The unease I have, Danae, isn’t because I went through each of these slow and monotonous months, but realizing this December, that we have been in a pandemic for almost a year. Those sentimental memories at the end of 2020 that, under normal circumstances, would be indifferent and even entertaining today make my heart shrink when I think: “I automatically survived for months; why did I do it?” Let’s blame the arrival of vaccines: after the euphoria, in the prelude to the eternal waiting for the medicine to reach your arm, I suppose there is an inevitable slump—a glimpse at the modern ruins that keep you standing.
How has December found you, my dear friend?
For my gatita earth, I have been reading things here and there by Yuk Hui, who, in fact, just a few days ago, published an essay on e-flux. I like that he warns how dangerous the idea of “progress” is when it implies a historical movement toward a unified goal, which refuses any notion of fragmentation and diversity. This kind of totality, the idea that the world is within reach of our complete knowledge and our calculations, is a way of reducing the world and, therefore, of losing it. And, by the way, it is also a path to an apocalyptic end.
In this sense, I believe, Hui speaks about the mono-technological culture, framed in the Anthropocene, which exploits “the Earth’s natural resources for the sake of profit maximization and prevents actors from adopting different paths or directions, that is, it blocks techno-diversity. ” Isn’t it that Yuk Hui speaks to green extractivism, which continues with that mono-technological logic but with better PR? For the rest, I think that mono-technological culture embraces apocalyptic logic to aggravate the end of traditional resources and thus to expand without much resistance its extractivist domain to unexpected horizons: human behavior -as Shoshana Zuboff in her concept of surveillance capitalism would study- and, why not, the space exploration led by transhumanist investors like Elon Musk, who, as Hui would put it, wants “to profit from the Earth losing its meaning, as if leaving the planet was a matter of leaving one spaceship to enter another.”
Anyhow, all of the above is better told (in English) by Yasnaya Elena Aguilar.
Reading Hui, I keep thinking of Langdon Winner when he said that changes and disruptions in modern life technology were perhaps accepted as inevitable, simply because no one bothered to ask if there were other possibilities. The mono-technological culture’s trick is to invest with the same energy in innovation as in the totalitarian takeover of the field of ideas. But there are cracks: I saw the example of a New Zealand minister of social development who, faced with an Artificial Intelligence pilot who ranked the social risk of children, abruptly ended the project because she could not allow people that someone from the government knocks on the door of a low-income family house to say, hi, I’m here because your son is going to end up in jail.
I say goodbye to 2020 with three little things to recommend to you because I know you will enjoy them:
– “Europe continues discovering America.” This story is excellent and sad, and it repeats again and again. The Guaviare’s cave paintings in Colombia were announced as a “discovery” in reputed international media in the first world even though they have been studied for 60 years by local scientists.
– This story of the Nikola company’s fraud (they said they’d produce fuel cell trucks but also wanted to build a network of hydrogen filling stations) is amusing. I highly recommend the fake promo video part.
– The best video in the history of Latin music, with the greatest singer-songwriter and la gran Pantoja (post-jail): to get moved to tears.
Kisses, D, and in next 2021 may Juan Gabriel and his cat be with us.
I just can’t, I cannot write after watching the video you sent. Nothing will top Juanga and Isabel. What if we turn this newsletter into a periodical revision of our favorite songs? It’s so clear that the only thing that matters is music and musical emotions. I truly believe that.
Maybe ecology is simply about positioning music in our horizon, a horizon in which we’re their dedicated servants. Then the most ecological thing we can do is to support and promote ideas such as the #4DayWeek campaign so we can have more time to use in the affairs that are really important and at the same time we’ll be able to significantly reduce the environmental impact indicators, researchers estimate that with an extra day in our weekends we could decrease carbon emissions by 24%. This is an idea that makes more sense to me because every day I become more hopeless about institutional solutions that seem to be purely symbolic, check for instance this infographic that Massive Attack shared the other day it shows that international inter-sectorial agreements help very little to reduce the effects of the climate emergency.
Really, let’s run and listen to some music, one videoclip after the other (hahah remember when we worked together and everyone at the office laughed at me because I said I could easily hit Justin Timberlake just using Youtube?). I mean it, it’s such a stimulating and rhizomatic instance, when you have speakers exquisitos, then you start theorizing and building connections across everything you’re listening and watching, and in the end, after a long night of music, you naturally reach this state when you just stop worrying about existing world stupidity. Did you see this douchebag ex minister of environment boasting his electric car? A car that costs a fortune that practically no one can buy? The car that also needs you to pay 5000 euros every five years so you can replace its lithium battery? The same lithium that is extracted in Chile, then travels all over the globe to finally return to its place of origin for the enjoyment of some mediocre politician? A couple of weeks ago I went with my friends to see an exhibition on lithium at the Nieuwe Instituut and I have to say that it was kinda crappy, I had lots of expectations but the works lacked a critical perspective on this huge problem. Well, you can tell that I’m frustrated when not even hip art excites me anymore.
Today I just want to listen to some music, especially during this season so I can get lost in the most perfect christmas songs that I don’t mind repeating every year On black friday (I’m embarrassed for even typing that concept), Greta Thunberg talked about the environmental problem caused by the absurd level of garbage that people buy on those dates Sofi Huaiquil, my favourite Mapuche tiktoker, also once made a video in which she addressed this topic and she said that buying unnecessary junk was key to enter western racist society. I’m also embarrassed about the tech industry and those who are supposed to be their watchdogs when they ignore this critical issue of the environmental and spiritual impact of consumerism (e-waste if we specifically speak about technological trash), it’s a shame to see that some people come with extremely dumb and counterproductive solutions that only a gringo could think about, this is the case of this ranking made by Mozilla that allows you to buy tons of tech crap while being mindful of your personal data. Because of course filling up the planet with trash that will never biodegrade in landfills of the third world is not a problem for these digital rights advocates. It is not a problem either the millions of obsolete devices that after a couple of years simply stop working because of the lack of firmware updates, Shoshana Zuboff also comments about this topic in her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism “As we are shorn of alternatives, we are forced to purchase products that we can never own while our payments fund our own surveillance and coercion.”
See? It is a world full of idiocy and I simply do not want to dialogue with it, I’ll be listening to some tunes far away from here and everyone can join, those who do not want to join, no problem at all, no hard feelings. I am carrying this nice gift made by my friend Annika Kappner who just released this guided meditation as a part of her work AKWĀ I feel super lucky to have been able to see her exhibition in Garage Rotterdam before they closed the museums here. I recommend all readers of gatito to take a moment to do this meditation as a form of closure of this weird year 🙂
And to finish this letter I also want to share a song. Well, this is a very different paradigm than Juanga’s who’s a demigod, but after watching the series of the old dudes of the rock latino I cannot take this hit out of my mind. Two important notes about it: first I want to publicly announce that as soon as I get the vaccine I intend to make out with all my crushes at the parks of the world, just as in the Zoom video; and second, I want to ask humanity to not use the Zoom video calls ever again, worst app of 2020.
Reading you next year bb,