New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future
Like an air control system mistaking a flock of birds for a fleet of bombers, software is unable to distinguish between its model of the world and reality — and, once conditioned, neither are we. (39–40)
There is a long-standing tradition of some of the most thorough and excellent critiques of technology carrying within them a grandiose deflation: the inevitable defeat that the machine is here to stay. …
The End of the Myth
By Greg Grandin
Whether that wall gets built or not, it is America’s new symbol. It stands for a nation that still thinks “freedom” means freedom from restraint, but no longer pretends, in a world of limits, that everyone can be free — and enforces that reality through cruelty, domination, and racism. (Pg 275)
The bravado of the colonizer, if you listen carefully, is often fragility displayed loudly enough that it might be misunderstood as power. Flag-waving nativist drum-pounding is never a display of strength, but a diversion. Much like the myth of the self-made elite, the idea of the self-made nation is a fallacy. …
This is the title essay of my 2018 book, Gathered Remains.
Out there walking round, looking out for food,
A rootstalk, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
Plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
Somehow getting by.
No good out there on dusty slopes of scree —
Carry some — look for some.
Go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
Bones hunger home.
Out there somewhere
A shrine for the old bones,
The dust of the old bones,
Old songs and tales.
What we ate — who ate what —
How we all prevailed. …
Originally written in 2014 and appeared in Black and Green Review no 1, Spring 2015.
The execution of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18 year old, by a white police officer on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, MO, was sadly not an anomaly. The response, however, has been.
Within hours, the streets had filled up and shortly after, businesses were in flames. And every night for weeks, it happened again. Each night spreading wider and farther.
The confluence of systemic racism and the feeble-minded, infantile bullying mentality of those drawn into the police force unsurprisingly creates volatile and deadly situations. Time after time, police murders occur with regularity and largely without consequence. The explosiveness of the murder of Michael Brown doesn’t arise from the particulars, but from the sheer crushing weight of this reality. …
In following the story of the killing of American missionary John Chau, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Sita Venkateswar. Rarely have I been so impressed by the thoroughness and depth of someone’s work and insights while also being completely shocked that I hadn’t come across it earlier. Sita’s 2004 ethnography, Development and Ethnocide: Colonial Practices in the Andaman Islands, is among the best ethnographies ever written and a thorough condemnation and examination of colonialism. The topics we touched on in this discussion are just scraping the surface of her work and it gets my highest recommendation.
I’m exceptionally grateful that Sita took the time for this interview and helping give more additional context about both Chau’s place in the history of the Andaman Islands and the colonial nature of contact — regardless of the agents and/or their intents. Sita teaches anthropology at Massey University in New Zealand and is the co-editor of The Politics of Indigeneity (2011). …
“Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”
-Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies
Agency is a tricky thing.
Long before the Pulitzer Prize-winning multi-disciplinarian Jared Diamond threw his hat in the ring, the study of the collapse of civilizations already had a long standing and devout trajectory of its own. …
It would be imprudent to deny, or even to play down, the profound change which the advent of ‘fluid modernity’ has brought to the human condition. The remoteness and unreachability of systemic structure, coupled with the unstructured, fluid state of the immediate setting of life-politics, change that condition in a radical way and call for a rethinking of old concepts that used to frame its narratives. Like zombies, such concepts are today simultaneously dead and alive.
– Zygmunt Bauman
Something has changed. Radically. And for the worst.
It is tellingly difficult to describe something without a name. And that something has quickly crept into our minds and psyche. We call it “social media” or the “social network,” but those words normalize what is a revolutionary change in our relationship to technology. We’re not talking here about a mere platform of technology, we’re talking about a mindset, a constantly flowing stream of information whereby a refusal to participate renders the human, now reduced to the status of a “user,” obsolete. …
There’s nothing we can say about technology that isn’t true for civilization in general. If you have social and economic power, you can do pretty much anything and say just about any kind of lie about it now. Maybe, just maybe, in time someone might question it.
Today’s empire, tomorrow’s PR blurb. That is, if anyone notices or says enough.
From the viewpoint of those currently with power, they’re here for us. Colonizers, civilizers, domesticators of every type have always been here for the little people. The commoners. The consumers. …
The Ecology of a Bubble
I have heard the sound of the Earth screaming. I have felt its heat, its burning. And it will forever be etched into my soul.
The sound was terrifying. It sounded like a thousand children screaming as their bodies were consumed by fire, or at least how I imagine that would sound. In a way that is how it looked too: a ball of flame shooting straight up into the sky. It was mesmerizing and terrifying in the way that only fire can lock you in. …
If karma were to exist, it’s hard to imagine what kind of punishment there could be for poisoning 97 percent of the children in La Oroya, Peru with lead.
To me, it seems equally likely that karma exists as it does that Ira Rennert puts much thought into it while enjoying an ocean-side view from his 100,000 square foot complex in the Hamptons.
Just for reference, that is one of the largest residential buildings in the world.
But before we get to Rennert, let’s talk about something you’re more likely to have heard about: lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan.
In August 2014, the city of Flint began a saga to act on a 2012 plan to switch its water source over to Lake Huron. What ensues is a rundown of the pollutants that come with industrial societies. We begin with fecal coliform bacteria, followed by massive influx of chlorine to flush that out: enough to cause corrosion in the engines being built by General Motors. Then we have E. Coli, followed by warnings over excessive amounts of disinfectants and their byproducts. This includes a chlorine byproduct, TTHM, a cancer-causing compound. Fear not, the Governor decides this isn’t an immediate health emergency since the impacts of TTHM takes years to compound and form. …