What a month! Amid the comments of unbearable smarty-pants framed at the UN Climate Action Summit, I had an oasis finding very entertaining readings.
For some time now, what bothers me the most are neither denialists nor those paternalistic misogynists against Greta Thunberg, but rather the repeated indication of the deep and intricate scale of the problem. I’m somehow tired to hear those quite obvious comments saying that individual initiatives are not enough in the face of a predatory economic system. But why I’m bothered if they are pointing out to something real?
Well, because I’m a cranky person.
But, on top of that, Tim Morton gave me a way out of that forced dilemma, not directly from the idea of hyperobjects (where he dives into the absurdity of trying to understand the scale problem of global warming), but from the concept of ecological irony as a last-minute scape. We face a problem of such scale and complexity that, instead of paralyzing us, we must continue to act and accept, once and for all, that we’re trapped by our limits and reconcile ourselves with feeling weird and uncanny with them.
Morton says, paraphrasing Talking Heads (and now especially adjusted by me for “Gatito Earth”): ecological awareness is something like waking you up one day, realizing that, hey! this is not my beautiful house, and this is not my beautiful cat and, well, cope with those absurd turns.
But there’s little room for irony these days. There is, on the other hand, a lot of room for the solutions of people who take themselves very seriously. Or something like that is what I interpret from Joanna Zylinska who, in this interview, says that the beneficiaries of the apocalypse porn industry are always powerful people, usually men, who will find in those narratives the perfect excuse to continue accumulating capital to through “solutionism.” In the Anthropocene that we tell to ourselves as reiterated apocalypse, “not everyone will make it but only a group of “special ones.” They used to be the sovereign, the King or Queen, but these days it’s those who are in charge of technology and innovation, who define what technology and innovation are and how they should operate, that are positioned as the survivalist caste – a group that will have the means to survive and that sees itself as destined to survive.”
:O This seems so obvious when, only a few days ago, Elon Musk continued to feed his public relations with news of the Starship going to Mars! Oh, the tech and multimillionaire outstanding men, those who always take themselves so seriously (recent samples here and here), are not only thinking about definitive solutions for planet Earth but also in making a sort of smart terraforming and speculation tourism in Mars. What a relief.
By the way, I find this whole terraforming trend very entertaining (which I discovered thanks to your previous recommendation on Jussi Parikka), which states that, given the climatic emergency, we must think about terraforming our own planet before Mars. I like it because it could imply if it is not ending up monopolized by the cultural establishment, a purely creative, and short-term speculative power.
I know you berate my refusal to leave this desert/city, but speaking of terraforming, I want to invite you to my terraforming project in Santiago. Of course, for now, it’s just me, the cats (attached a pic of our last meeting), some friends who want to join me and not much else. But here comes the exciting part: on the one hand, it will be a terraforming located in a territory that has never left the orbit of rocks, mountains, and authoritarianism that stifle it. And, on the other, The Masculine Thought will NOT be present in solutions or, as I learned from Zylinska in this beautiful little book, in pretending a total and erect thought.
In what is small, confusing, and vague, and why not, in the low-tech, we will form an Earth, and we will all feel weird.
The weird ones.
Certainly everything has been very much hectic with the adventures of Greta in Babylon, in this regard, I have felt so much pleasure at seeing all these inculeables dudes lose their heads. I immediately connected this massive male delirium with an interview given by my idols Gayatri Spivak and Angela Davis in which Spivak says that in this society, men consider that a woman’s leadership equals to the absence of leadership. Consequently, that sexist assumption is the clear argumentative pillar for all the deniers of the climate crisis and for those who promote fake news about Greta and other conspiracy theories.
Because of this scenario I have thought a lot of a very dear person who converted to this absurd tech libertarianism a while ago. Obviously he started his madness doing cryptocurrency speculation and among the insane causes that he promotes of course a central one is the denial of the climate emergency. Why is there a direct line between these crypto-libertarian men and the neo-fascists? Could we affirm that the design of certain technologies is capable of producing hate narratives? The connection between fascism and climate denial was explored in this essay by Metahaven, they are excellent artists from Rotterdam, and they use the case of the Dutch extreme-right and their invention of the word klimaatminaretten to connect wind power mills with Muslim temples. Gross. The worst part is that these people are among us and social networks just amplify their idiotic messages. I think we have to do something about it but I don’t know what yet, in the meantime I wrote a poem to my friend at my blog.
I love your terraforming proposal, the Strelka link is very good too. However, the other day I spotted a cahuín: Lev Manovich wrote in their Facebook wall that he felt disappointed that such white readings were being so promoted in Russia. And well, I certainly agreed with him. As you know, I just returned from Moscow, I went with Javi to visit our friends Ilya and Anastasia and I had a great time, I missed them and it was a dream to know the city with them. I asked them if climate change was an important topic there and they told me that it was not, although I had to understand that this apathy was largely motivated by the enormous police repression they have there, I also realized that their environmental concerns differ greatly from those that we have in western Europe, for example, the city has a lot of smog, it is full of cars and they have problems like the burning of trash (I mean I even remembered when I was a child and I was in the car with my parents driving across la Panamericana and I felt that warm breeze with the smell of burnt garbage while we were passing by Carlos Valdovinos, Departmental, El Parrón).
So, of course, this postcolonial component must always be taken into account, this is the element that makes our experiences of the climate crisis so different depending on where we are. And this is why I happily accept your invitation to your project of terraformación (wow, reading your letter was the first time I saw the term translated, cacha la weá blanca po) I believe that we can invent something transoceanic, you in Calama, I mean Santiago, and me in Rotterdam. On the postcolonial turn of terraforming, I think this interview with my idol Achille Mbembe is a good resource, he talks about decolonization as a planetary task. Mbembe is very critical of the technologies that assign value to everything and therefore turn the entire environment into something computable, the problem is clearly that the non-computable ends up not existing. Can we incorporate all the factors of the climate emergency into a computer system? Does the problem of the non-computable implies that we have to be conservative about technological advances? I think not and that is our challenge: cyborg planetary decolonization.
I don’t have pictures of cats because in Moscow they were all hiding in their cold-dead houses but I can share this image of my friend Nastya who is basically a cat while she is watching a work by Jon Rafman in Garage, the museum of contemporary art in Moscow. There was an amazing exhibition on ecology as a political process called The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030-2100, the curatorship was rad, there were works by Martha Rosler, by Studio Drift, by Critical Art Ensemble, drawings by Le Corbusier, even some Dutch golden age paintings. Jon Rafman is an artist who just uses Google Street View images in his works. Is Google recording the visuality of humanity’s last days?
Tqm amiga, la gatito earth gives me life