Isabelle Stengers’ new book available open access

the anthropo.scene

Isabelle Stengers’ new book, In Catastrophic Times, is available for free as a .pdf download at this site. Here is a description of the book (which you can also buy in hard copy as well following the link above):

There has been an epochal shift: the possibility of a global climate crisis is now upon us. Pollution, the poison of pesticides, the exhaustion of natural resources, falling water tables, growing social inequalities – these are all problems that can no longer be treated separately. The effects of global warming have a cumulative impact, and it is not a matter of a crisis that will “pass” before everything goes back to “normal.”

Our governments are totally incapable of dealing with the situation. Economic warfare obliges them to stick to the goal of irresponsible, even criminal, economic growth, whatever the cost. It is no surprise that people were so struck…

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Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things

Southern Nights

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After the leaves have fallen, we return
To a plain sense of things. It is as if
We had come to an end of the imagination,
Inanimate in an inert savoir.

It is difficult even to choose the adjective
For this blank cold, this sadness without cause.
The great structure has become a minor house.
No turban walks across the lessened floors.

The greenhouse never so badly needed paint.
The chimney is fifty years old and slants to one side.
A fantastic effort has failed, a repetition
In a repetitiousness of men and flies.

Yet the absence of the imagination had
Itself to be imagined. The great pond,
The plain sense of it, without reflections, leaves,
Mud, water like dirty glass, expressing silence

Of a sort, silence of a rat come out to see,
The great pond and its waste of the lilies, all this
Had to be imagined as…

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Anti-Islam Propaganda

Kenneth Harper Finton

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It is not so much that Islam is a peaceful religion designed to co-exist with others, but outright misrepresentations such as above is making its way around the world. Remember Christians war against Christians and all religions that believe they are the only truth are false ideologies.

Verse by verse, you can see the result of the attempt to make was on Islam. See: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=3&verse=85

At the above site you can read seven parallel translations of each verse and see the original Arabic in a word by word translation. This mistranslated propaganda is obviously created to provoke tension and war.

Verse (2:191) – English Translation

As above: “Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them.”

Shakir: And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until…

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The Universe from Nothing

Scientific GOD Journal | November 2015 | Volume 6 | Issue 10 | pp. 655-657 Pal, H. S., The Problem with the Universe from Nothing (Part II) 

ISSN: 2153-831X Scientific GOD Journal Published by Scientific GOD, Inc. http://www.SciGOD.com

The Problem with the Universe from Nothing (Part II)

500px-Wormhole_travel_as_envisioned_by_Les_Bossinas_for_NASA

Himangsu S. Pal*

* Correspondence: Himangsu S. Pal. E-Mail: sekharpal1946@rediffmail.com

ABSTRACT 

Scientists have shown how the total matter-energy content of the universe has always remained zero. If the universe appeared out of nothing, initially there was no space, time, matter and energy. However, we are not satisfied with this explanation and want to know how the total space-time content of the universe has always remained zero. Otherwise, scientists will have to explain as to whence appeared the extra residual space-time that was not already there at the beginning.

Key Words: Universe, nothing, substance, space, time, energy, matter, gravity.

When scientists say that the universe can simply come out of nothing without any divine intervention, they think of the universe in terms of its energy content only. In the book ‘The Grand Design’, page 281, scientist Stephen Hawking has written that bodies like stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing, but a whole universe can.1 The message is very clear from this: The total energy of a whole universe is zero and that is why it can come out of nothing; but stars or black holes will fail to do so, because their total energy is not zero. But universe means not only its energy; universe means its space-time as well. So if we now apply the same logic to space-time as well, then we can say that the total space-time of a whole universe must also always have to be zero, because in that case only a whole universe can appear out of nothing. Here my question is: How does the total space-time of an ever-expanding universe always remain zero?

As the universe appeared out of nothing, so initially there was no space, time, matter and energy. Scientists have successfully shown how the total matter-energy content of the universe has always remained zero. But we are not satisfied with that explanation, we want something more. We also want to know how the total space-time content of the universe has always remained zero. And it should always remain zero if the universe has actually appeared out of nothing. Otherwise scientists will have to explain as to whence appeared the extra residual space-time that was not already there at the beginning.

If stars or black holes cannot appear out of nothing simply because their total energy is not zero, then can a whole universe appear out of nothing if its total space-time is not zero?

The last question above will further boil down to this one: Do the physicists think that energy cannot just appear out of nothing, but space-time can, supposing that the total space-time of the present universe is not zero? Scientific GOD Journal | November 2015 | Volume 6 | Issue 10 | pp. 655-657 Pal, H. S., The Problem with the Universe from Nothing (Part II) 

ISSN: 2153-831X Scientific GOD Journal Published by Scientific GOD, Inc. http://www.SciGOD.com

656

Or, do they think that like life, mind and consciousness, space and time are also emergent entities only, and therefore, not directly coming from big bang nothing?

Something can appear out of nothing provided that the totality of that something always remains zero. Actually anything can come out of nothing if this condition is fulfilled. This is the principle which some scientists have relied upon when they have proposed that our universe could have arisen out of nothing due to a quantum energy fluctuation in a void. They have found that the total energy of the universe is exactly zero. The total energy being zero, the total matter will also be zero due to matter-energy equivalence. If the total matter as well as the total energy of the universe is zero, then why should they have to come from anything at all? They could have come from nothing as well. So these scientists have proposed that our universe has simply appeared out of nothing. But when they have proposed this theory, they remained totally oblivious of the fact that universe means not only its matter and energy, universe means its space-time as well. So, if the universe has actually appeared out of nothing, then just like matter and energy, space-time also has appeared out of that primordial nothing. So like matter and energy, the total space-time also should always remain zero.

However, if it is the case that space-time has not directly appeared out of nothing, then the total space-time need not have to be zero. No sane person on this earth will ever say that the total number of human beings in this universe must always have to be zero, because no sane person believes that human beings have directly appeared out of nothing. However if ‘x’ has directly appeared out of nothing, then logic and common sense dictates that the totality of that ‘x’ must always have to be zero.

Here it may be objected that there is a law of conservation of matter and energy in science, but that there is no such conservation law for space-time. So there is no violation of conservation law if nothing generates so much of space-time. Even if it is conceded that this is a valid objection – here I must say that I do not think so – it can still be pointed out that there is one more reason that can be given as to why the total space-time of the universe should always remain zero. This reason we find in Einstein’s general theory of relativity. As per GTR space, time and matter are so interlinked that there cannot be any space-time without matter. Similarly there cannot be any matter without space-time. If there cannot be any space and time without matter, then the total matter of the universe being zero, the total space-time of the universe should also always be zero. So we can say that GTR alone gives us sufficient reason to conclude that if the total matter of the universe always remains zero, then the total space-time of the universe should also always remain zero. Here the question becomes quite irrelevant as to whether the universe has originated from something, or from nothing.

So from GTR we come to know that the total space-time of an ever-expanding universe should always remain zero, but we do not know yet how it does actually remain zero.

If science cannot give any satisfactory answer to this question, then the naturalistic world-view of modern science will prove to be inadequate for explaining the real world. Scientific GOD Journal | November 2015 | Volume 6 | Issue 10 | pp. 655-657 Pal, H. S., The Problem with the Universe from Nothing (Part II) 

ISSN: 2153-831X Scientific GOD Journal Published by Scientific GOD, Inc. http://www.SciGOD.com

657

Reference 

1. S. Hawking & L. Mlodinow (2012), The Grand Design, pg. 281 (Bantam Books: New York).

Fascism

This week we have witnessed a phenomenal act of social movement-making in an era when many, myself included, have wondered if meaningful change in the U.S. still possible.

Some of that worry is about aging, I’m sure. As you get older and the people around you get older you are inclined to wonder if the kids can ever be as alright as the kids you were.

We overstate our youthful courageousness. Then, because we are wily from age, we defend that overstatement by understating the courage of the youth who displace us. That may be natural. But when a cross-campus coalition of student-athletes and student-citizens at the University of Missouri organized to force the retirement of the college president (and future “transition” of the university system chancellor) they did something remarkable.

These young people took on the growing, well-paid, powerful administrative class in corporate higher education and actually won a concession.

We can debate whether the concessions these students won are material enough for the hard-core Marxists, too symbolic for the crusty pragmatists, or replicable enough for the devout organizers. But we who believe in democracy as verb instead of noun should relish the moment.

We should also defend the moment against the inevitable media contortions.

Almost immediately the Mizzou student actions became a battleground over the first amendment, media and fascism when at a rally some protestors formed a human shield to block a photographer from campus media from recording the protestors.

Granted, my social media feed is heavily weighted towards media folks but you would have thought this moment was Tienneman Square for the media caterwauling. More than a handful of editors, reporters, and mainstream media organizations condemned the Mizzou students as spoiled, anti-democratic, ridiculous, and enemies to their own cause.

David Simon, a writer who was once a journalist, went further.

He told me (and Roxane Gay, a brilliant writer who can speak for herself) over an hours-long diatribe on Twitter that the Mizzou students were fascists in “intent”, the photographer was the real hero of recent events, and that these were the moments on the slippery slope to the decline of American democracy.

Fascism means something.

He also intimated that I lack intellectual rigor to engage with him about fascism or anything really.

I’ll respect his right to be protected from my undisciplined intellectual inquiry.

I want David Simon to have a safe space.

The rest of you aren’t so lucky.

First, let me put as fine a point on my position as possible.


The press is not a rational objective actor.

The press shapes as much as it documents.

All press benefits as much from social change as it benefits from the status quo. That means the press, especially corporate media, is always serving two masters.

The press has rights but so do persons and sometimes we define those rights by working through the moments when they clash.

This is a heavy moment for those clashes. The moment’s heaviness deserves attention because context matters to intellectual rigor, if not hyperbolic hand-waving.

The Moment For Movement-Making

The Mizzou student-activists are organizing in a moment of public, private and State surveillance unlike any ever before seen in modern history in a wealthy imperialist nation where a huge part of our conspicuous consumption is surveilling ourselves as a status symbol.

They are organizing within the most corporate driven era of higher education in the history of the United States with all that entails for curtailing citizen-building at the expense of making markets and more consumers.

These students were organizing against the major capital interests that can now purchase unprecedented access to politicians in a massive police apparatus that has virtually unchecked privilege to target, surveill, detain and murder in a media culture controlled by many of the same capital interests.

This moment requires a level of sophistication that I doubt even my elder cohort can quite grasp. This is not the 1960s. It isn’t even the 1980s.

Social media allowed Mizzou students to attract the requisite public attention for successful social action. But, media both social and traditional (and increasingly that’s a false distinction but it still means something discursively so roll with it) can bring as much harm as it can good given the political economy in which we all live.

The first amendment protects the press against censure but it does not delimit the democratic action of those the press covers.

All due respect to the man who gave the world Stringer Bell but what we saw at that student rally was democracy in action, not fascism.

Fascism means something more than a thing one does not like.

Fascism means a system of social organization that concentrates power and doesn’t just discourage dissent but organizes the State against it.

I don’t like to literalize metaphors for the most part. I like creative license. I use it from time to time with various degrees of success. Denying writers metaphors is cheap way to become a demagogue.

But sometimes the material reality subsumes creative licence and the moment at Missouri is one such moment.

It’s not just that the moment is important. It’s not just that the students are still very much in danger for doing something important. It is that hand-waving about a fascist state can confuse us about what making democracy looks like.


Democracy Is Messy

Historical narratives about Great Men can be a trap.

These narratives are important but they also have the benefit of hindsight. They can make events seem pre-determined. The actors in them appear uniquely gifted to bring about social change. Resistors always seem weak because we know from the outset that they lose.

These stories, which we love, can lull us into thinking that social change is polite when historically and presently it is anything but. Still, we clamor for polite protests that follow imaginary rulebooks for Democracy 101.

The complaints from well-meaning people around Ferguson were about the same as those around the March on Washington as those around Reconstruction.

Very few people want to be actual fascists or actual racists but they don’t want to be late for work or awakened by sirens either. So, people say in various ways, could protestors stay off of residential streets after 7 PM and during rush hour traffic and also not make the buses in Birmingham late or unprofitable because people rely on those jobs and maybe too if the students at Mizzou could just write a nice letter and be grateful for their scholarships.

Mizzou students may have seen that historical narrative because they resisted its traps. It’s the trap that leads the media to cover those well-meaning people in Ferguson like they covered them in Birmingham like they covered them throughout Reconstruction – as well-meaning harmless folks who just believe in rules.

The Media Is Complicit And Mizzou Students Knew It

The media rarely calls people racists.

Even when people’s fetish for rules over justice makes them complicit in extra-judicial murder of black men, women and children.

Even when these well-meaning harmless folks only want the “rules” of biological superiority of whiteness to prevail in policy-making and bell curves about the scientific inferiority of brown people to justify resource provisions for everything from schools to prisons the media rarely calls this racism.

Sociologist Bonilla-Silva talks about a U.S. culture where there is miraculously racism but no racists. He interviews people, across race and class, and finds that they can talk about aspects of racism but have a multitude of narratives that makes no one complicit really.

And the media – at least the mainstream media – by and large follows suit.

I’ve asked some of those same people on my media-heavy social media before if their outlets have style guides about when they will or will not use “racism” or “racist” in reporting.

The gist seems to be that the media relies on the “objective” rationality of its reporters to make that call. Perhaps in a diverse media industry this would lead to sparkling debates about what constitutes racism when publishing. In that alternate universe one might expect to see “racism” show-up as much as it’s many euphemisms (“racial issues” etc.).

The “No-Racists” Feedback Loop

Of course, media outlets don’t reflect the U.S. population as much as they reflect the demographic make-up of the nation’s power elite.

Just thirteen percent of newsroom employers are “minorities” defined here as broadly as possible to include anyone non-white basically. The figures are smaller when you break that category up by race. The numbers are slightly higher in television news at 22 percent but again that’s for every non-white category.

One way to look at an important axis of power in how news is shaped by the taken-for-granted editorial norms is to consider the diversity among media shot-callers. The Pew Research Center finds that with news directors you approach racial parity in a handful of large media markets but only 13 percent for the rest of the many newsrooms across the country. Again, newspapers are worse than television with just ten percent of those supervisors being a “minority”.

Digital media was supposed to blow this wide open. Greater access might fix that pipeline problem of minority journalism grads not finding that all-important first media job. So far, the National Association of Black Journalists are unimpressed with the reality: digital newsrooms do not seem to be building better pipelines than traditional media.

This only matters, of course, if you think diverse persons is in any way related to diversity of ideas. I’ll concede that’s debatable even as I admit that I think, with some margin of error, it’s the most efficient first step.

As it stands, most media people come from the same socio-economic background. They share a racial identity (white). And, they are often produced by closed of social networks and elite institutions. It is no wonder that they tend to share ideas about when something does or does not earn the label “racism”.

As one reporter told me, they rely on other people – their subjects – to call something racist. Given the research that shows that people also rarely call anything racist, even when acknowledging racism, we end up in a divine feedback loop: people see racism but no racists and media will only report on what people say is racist.

The feedback loop can feel like a noose when you are organizing against the very racism people might agree exists but that no one will name.

How do you describe why someone would draw a swastika in feces on a college wall if we preclude the discussion of racism as an act with actors?

How can you organize around acts of racism to do the work that well-meaning folk don’t do when we can call something fascist but can’t call anything racist?

That’s the media climate the Missouri students were navigating. They chose to do what social movement organizations almost always do: They tried to control their message.

Mizzou student organizers used social media because it allows some of that control, granting access to media organizations on their terms and sometimes denying it altogether.

They did this knowing that sensationalist headlines are used to generate revenue and sometimes the algorithmically driven choices can malign as much as they can report.

They did this knowing that the media may not have a great record with labeling racism as such but it does have a record of using the mugshots of black criminal defendants at higher rates than do those of white criminal defendants.

They did this in a media culture that can be the disinfectant but that has also historically been the infection. Given this, the rhetoric got heated.

But, we saw the video of the student photographer at the Missouri rally. Somehow ideas circulated. They may not have circulated for profit, but they circulated. And the police weren’t marshaled to remove the photographer, as would happen in a fascist state.

As a result of all of this, many of us now know a bit more about the machinery of modern organizing in our culture.

That’s how the democratic sausage is made and this week it was made by a group of young people whose safety, well-being and accomplishments trump creative license and metaphor.

tressiemc

This week we have witnessed a phenomenal act of social movement-making in an era when many, myself included, have wondered if meaningful change in the U.S. still possible.

Some of that worry is about aging, I’m sure. As you get older and the people around you get older you are inclined to wonder if the kids can ever be as alright as the kids you were.

We overstate our youthful courageousness. Then, because we are wily from age, we defend that overstatement by understating the courage of the youth who displace us. That may be natural. But when a cross-campus coalition of student-athletes and student-citizens at the University of Missouri organized to force the retirement of the college president (and future “transition” of the university system chancellor) they did something remarkable.

These young people took on the growing, well-paid, powerful administrative class in corporate higher education and actually won a…

View original post 1,880 more words

CHANNELING OUR WORLD

READ FIRST: https://heliosliterature.com/2015/02/26/does-the-universe-have-a-brain/

broadcast-communications-tower_318-38446.png

Have I confused you with information that you have a hard time processing? Bear with me while further explain.

We concluded the chapter about a universal brain with these words: “Experience is born in a timeless dimension and brought into the world by interconnected series of events that continued to experience being long before and long after our temporal existences became evident and actual. Ultimately, we are the experience and the experience is eternal. 

“Memory is a tool of awareness, a process that continually blinks in and out of existence with observation and relationship to other temporal events. Our world and universe is the physical counterpart of an infinite experience that never began and will never end.”

We can think of it this way: all time exists in the NOW. The fact that we view time as a continuous progression does not make it so. What we see is from our viewpoints in the dimensions we perceive, which is only one of many ways to scan existence.

For example: think of the universe and all the time and events contained therein as a television broadcast network that contains many trillions upon trillions of individual channels and stations. All the information that is broadcast already exists, but the tuner isolates one particular program, one particular set of frequencies, and we see a continuous program. That is what the world and our lives are in a simple analogy.

Consciousness is the tuner and the broadcast comes from zero dimension. Unlike television, there is no script nor writers and no schedule of events. Events and actions exist in potentiality until they are realized and made actual. The essence of the information is composed of vibrational waves like digitized pictures in computer code. Our personal tuners filter out anything other than what pertains to us. Our electrical fields and currents have interference patterns when they encounter one another.

The only reason that we are not someone else is because our personal ‘tuners’ or ‘self’ filters out the rest of the events and our unconscious deals only with that which it has experienced and felt in our dimensional actuality.

The NOW is always current in several senses of the word. It exists in the present and is only palpable when the current is flowing. When the current is not flowing we have a blank screen with no visible information. Like a television channel, we are limited to what is filtered for us and by us. A memory exists only as a thought and a remembrance. We cannot physically revisit the exact time and space of the recalled event because we have no access to the currents actualized in that time and space.

This does not mean the events are forever lost and stilled. They have made physical changes in our material world. What we are, in essence, is not the event, but the current itself that in the infinite zero dimension contains all that ever was and all that ever can be. All events and all time is in the NOW. They become actualized through the collapse of the infinite fields of probability into one course of action, a material decision that sends the flowing currents that define us into a particular arrangement and negates the other probabilities.

These other probabilities are not forever destroyed in this negation. They continue to be probabilities, as nothing is gained or lost in the zero dimension. The universe is eternal and recurring, so in the vast expanse of infinite time, other probabilities likely become actuated. Instead of a multiverse, we find multiple dimensions and multiple viewpoints existing within our own universe. We need only one world with infinite probability and multiple dimensions to create all that is and is yet to be and bring it into eventual actualization.

Our nightly dreams are considered unreal because they have not effected a major change in our material universe. Who we are in our dreams is formed of the same current that we are when we are awake, but in different patterns and dimensional viewpoints. We are the wispy ghosts of experiential beings, the products of the informational data that created us and brought us into an actual world.


FOR FURTHER READING:

https://heliosliterature.com/2014/12/10/whoarewe/

https://heliosliterature.com/2015/02/26/does-the-universe-have-a-brain/

https://heliosliterature.com/2015/11/13/channeling-our-world/

https://heliosliterature.com/2014/12/21/much-ado-about-nothing/

https://heliosliterature.com/2014/12/26/the-perpetua-lsearcyh-for-truth/

https://heliosliterature.com/2015/01/03/of-god-man-nature-and-zero-dimension/

https://heliosliterature.com/2015/01/05/metaphysics/

https://heliosliterature.com/2014/12/21/much-ado-about-nothing/

https://heliosliterature.com/2015/02/12/thought/

https://heliosliterature.com/2015/03/20/god-infinity-and-the-mobius-universe/

 NOTHING

Islam and Religion

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At best, any religion will be an effective vehicle for mystical revelation and an organ of charity and community. Confusing mystical revelation with civil law and science is malicious and regressive. Apples should not be used to comment on oranges.

For any religion or creed to have any value or dignity, it must be chosen freely. If forced or enforced, the exercise is mental slavery and extortion. Islam, in particular, calls for harsh punishment against anyone who leaves the faith. This threat is anathema to mystical insight.

My advice to any and all so-called Muslims: forget the Koran and Hadith, drop the label and threat of Islam and just read Sufi poetry. The mystical seed which should be revealed by Islam can better be found in Sufi writings. In fact, Allah has given you a heart and a mind, the finest instruments in the known universe, and they are all that is needed.

Dogma is for suckers and schmucks. The very best things in life cannot be uttered or described, this is why silence is golden and even the wisest axioms are silver; once spoken, once formulated into language, silver mixed with dross.

Proudly wearing the label of any faith is an admission of bigotry.Trading the ability to change one’s mind for the illusion of safety in the herd is not progressive or self-interested or altruistic. Accepting wholesale one blanket explanation of the universe (often from the stone age) and never questioning this explanation is a behavior that retards progress, thought and growth. This retardation harms the individual and the group.

There’s been a strange idea floating around popular culture for some time: You can believe whatever you want to believe. Have you heard this? Does this sound accurate to you? You can believe whatever you want to believe. This is obviously NOT so, no matter how sweetly it sounds to our ears. You cannot believe that fire will not harm you. You cannot believe that acting like an asshole will have no consequences. You can’t believe that praying for food is the same nutritional value as eating food. Okay, sure, you can believe whatever you want to believe if you don’t care about living and thriving on this planet with other people. If that’s not important to you, all the other people and living here in peace, then yes, you can believe whatever you want.

“Oh, so you’re going to tell me what I can and can’t believe?” the believer might say in righteous indignation.

Not me. Have you not already abdicated your right to choose? I merely remind you that you have the right to choose what you believe, and to change your mind, although you’ve given up that right. You silly Jew, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Baha’i or Scientologist.

People are just people, the world over, so drop the pretense of specialness. And whatever violence you are engaged in or support, stop using the lame excuse of your religion or nationality and just admit it: violence stems from simple human viciousness and ignorance. Honestly own your brutality and stop dressing it up in holy or patriotic garments. Any insistence that violence is righteous only shows desperation to hide immaturity and willful ignorance.

The question you dare not answer, dear believer, is why. Why do you believe such and such? This question is not about any twisted line of reasoning, this is about benefit. What do you get out of your profession of belief? What does it do for you? Honest answers to these questions may lead to a sudden Recto-cranial-ectomy. Side effects include momentary dizziness, better posture and improved respiration and perception. Life is much easier without your head up your ass.

Many seem to think than morality is impossible without religion. Not at all. Only by relinquishing dogma, only by stepping through and past all religions, is Morality possible. Only the free choice has a chance of being the moral choice. Be free.

JANUARY 1, 2019

http://futureswewant.net/simon-critchley-future-fiction/
An evening, sometime in the near future…
Banner Image: The International Business Center in Moscow. (Modification of a photo taken by Oscar W. Rasson on 14 March 2015, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.

Banner Image: The International Business Center in Moscow. (Modification of a photo taken by Oscar W. Rasson on 14 March 2015, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.

by Simon Critchley
KADASHEVSKAYA HOTEL

26 Kadashevskaya nab. 115035 Moscow

January 1st, 2019

I guess we could all have seen it coming a few years back. Things really started to get worse around the end of 2013 and then dragged on into the long, cold winter months. That whole business with that guy, what was his name? Mountain in Wales. Snowden. That’s it. He went underground for a while and then emerged as the CEO of Bozhe Moi! (My God!): the amazing Russian search engine that overtook Google early in 2017. Totally wiped them out. I find it reassuringly old world and Le Carré-like to have the FSB watching all of us rather than the NSA.

Shortly after the President’s death, events moved fast. Well, suspicions were raised when they declared it accidental. Everyone knew it was suicide. He lost face (and faith) after that awful video circulated. You all know the one I mean. That was just after the attempted toppling of 1WTC. Why did they build that thing? It looked like a huge robot schlong. It was lucky that only a couple of hundred people died in the rogue drone strike, but the building’s been empty  – cursed – since then, apart from a shelter for the homeless on the ground floors. The city began to go bankrupt after whatshisname, Di Blasio, was unable to raise taxes to pay for all the damage from the great storm of summer 2016. That was when the BBB movement (“Bring Back Bloomberg”) really got momentum. It turned out that people missed his bad Spanish at those press conferences. He’s been in power for a year now, even bringing back everyone’s pal, Ray Kelly. It’s just like old times.

Biden governed heroically, if ineffectively, until they called an early election due to the state of emergency. But he was never going to beat Chris Christie, particularly after Hilary had to pull out of the primaries because of that scandal with Anthony Weiner’s ex-wife. God that guy really embraced new technology. I think he’s still serving time. Chris Christie was a surprisingly popular president. It was like being governed by Tony Soprano. People love a benevolent despot. But I guess we weren’t surprised when the heart attack happened. He was inspecting the Acela line to Boston after it had been destroyed by floodwaters.

President Rubio has been in power for over a year now. He looks the very picture of health, glowing like the self-satisfied Miami sun when he speaks. Obamacare has been fully repealed, the rather minimal tax increases on the rich have been reversed, the federal budget has been slashed (his “War on Debt” campaign), and Rubio plans to implement the NRA’s proposal to arm all schoolkids. That’s equality. Everyone gets a gun. People seem to feel safer that way. Or they just stopped caring after that horrific school shooting in Greenport: the sixth one last year. I mean, who’s counting, right?

The truth is that national politics no longer seems to matter. Neither does the state. Cosmos is the new 1% international political force, set up by Jamie Dimon and other senior business figures from across the world. Its radical plan is to abandon all states and national borders and establish an independent league of mega-cities (initially New York, Shanghai, London, Tokyo, Mumbai, Moscow, but many others want to join) with its own police force and border agents. They’ve already begun to issue passports. It comes free when you sign up for their premium credit card. I have one here in my wallet. It has their catchy motto engraved on the titanium: “The world is ours. Make it yours”. They were initially called “The League of Rootless Cosmopolitans”. But they shortened their name: like the magazine, like the drink. The only political imperative was how to preserve the patina of liberalism while maintaining existing levels of inequality. Unsurprisingly, this is not that hard. It turns out that this is what we had anyway. A large proportion of the funding base for the Democratic Party has evaporated. Bozhe Moi! is also a big funder of the Cosmos party. Secession from their various states is expected to begin this year.

After the whole Google glasses debacle and the copycat suicides where people filmed their own deaths while wearing them, huge amounts of money were spent on lawsuits and the program was abandoned. Capital was poured into the development of what was called “inner space research.” There were various plans to insert probes under the skin at the wrist in order to internalize search functions with fingertip control. They also tried to develop an ultra-gossamer type mask where computer and skin surface would meet and merge. They called it “2 Skin”. It also failed. As did the plan to insert implants in the retina. The stroke of genius at Bozhe Moi! was realizing that the search engine and the whole apparatus could be run from a customized pair of headphones. People really like headphones. It turns out that there is still a huge difference between what you are prepared to stick in your eyes and your ears. I’m wearing mine right now to talk to you. The translate function means that everyone can speak any language they wish which is what I do here in Moscow. Rosetta Stone is already a distant memory.

Of course, we knew that the rise of Bozhe Moi! was a soft authoritarian takeover. Old-fashioned leftists would proclaim that the promised means of our emancipation (the internet circa 1996. Remember that?) had merely shackled us more tightly in virtual servitude. Boring! I mean we read Foucault too when it still mattered.  But the truth was that people didn’t really care about their privacy. Not really. Not even the Germans.

Wars came and went in the Middle East, huge populations were displaced and innocent civilians were killed. Business as usual. The pieces moved slightly on the global chessboard and then moved again. We stopped caring, particularly after the big broadcast networks began to fold – CNN was first. We knew less and less about world, particularly after all those attacks on BBC journalists. But life was just fine here. There is still no two-state or one-state solution in Israel and settlements are still being built. After the attacks on Iran following their nuclear tests, the Ayatollahs even took out a new fatwa on Salman Rushdie and one on Bono too, after he was involved in that hit musical about the Iranian Revolution. But I think they both still go to parties.

I guess the weirdest changes have been around sex. The omnipresence of the highest quality 3D pornography, combined with “sensorium” patches that went on sale in 2015, effectively killed it off. Together with the first cases of a fatal testicular cancer caused by a variant of the HPV virus that was said to be in 90% of the sexually active young male population. That got their attention.

This led to two trends. A sudden vogue, that summer, for reckless, public sex: in buses, parks, sidewalks, subways, everywhere. It became a kind of display of political indifference or even resistance among the poor, but it was picked up and imitated by a lot of college kids. They call themselves the “League of Lovers” or LOL as way of mocking the Cosmos. There continue to be many arrests and an African-American couple was shot last weekend for refusing to stop making love in Prospect Park. Not so much “Stop and Frisk” as “Stopping Friskiness.”

The other trend – less numerous, but much more influential – was the Cenobite movement, where people would pay significant amounts of money to live together but in such a way that they could remain apart and not constitute any kind of threat to each other. The first one was founded outside Warren, Vermont a few years back. But they have spread all across Vermont, New Hampshire and Upstate New York. After electing to withdraw from the world – what they call anachoreisis – each Cenobite is given an “anchorhold” where they can stay safe and warm with their devices and sleep. Any participation in public events is optional, but with the right use of a wonderful new anxiety medication called Atarax, cenobites are able to be together socially and even main eye contact without looking at their devices for up to two minutes. For fear of contagion, celibacy is the rule in all cenobite groups. This did not extend to masturbation, of course. That would have taken things too far.

People incapable of even this degree of social activity or who could not bear to be disconnected from their devices began to gather outside the Cenobite communities in more extreme group. They began to be called “Hamlet camps” or the “Inkies” after their customized black clothing, that was something between sports clothing and a Beneditcine habit. The sign up fee is prohibitively high in order to pay for the private police force and guarantee exclusivity. But I hear that some of the “Inkies” are beginning to produce some really high-level electronic music.

New York City began to feel too much like Alexandria in the late fourth century and I decided to get out when the right job offer came through. I’ve been living in this hotel in Moscow for the last 6 months working for a contemporary art space funded by one of oligarchs behind the Cosmos. It’s alright. The Russians make a generic version of Atarax and I have a bodyguard and a driver. But I stay in the hotel most of the time as it’s too dangerous to go out.

Critchley_Simon - portrait Simon Critchley teaches philosophy at the New School for Social Research and moderates The Stone, an opinion series in the The New York Times that features the writings of contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless issues. Among his many books are: The Ethics of Deconstruction (Edinburgh University Press, 1992, 1999, 2014), On Humour (Routledge, 2002), Infinitely Demanding (Verso, 2007), Impossible Objects(Polity Press), The Problem With Levinas (Oxford University Press, 2015). Author website: http://www.simoncritchley.org/