Photograph taken in Burgess Park, Summer 2020
Weak mortals, chained to the earth, creatures of clay as frail as the foliage of the woods, you unfortunate race, whose life is but darkness, as unreal as a shadow, the illusion of a dream, hearken to us, who are immortal beings, ethereal, ever young and occupied with eternal thoughts, for we shall teach you about all celestial matters; you shall know thoroughly what is the nature of the birds, what the origin of the gods, of the rivers, of Erebus, and Chaos; thanks to us, even Prodicus will envy you your knowledge – Aristophanes, The Birds
Hope resides in the trees…2020 did not see the third summer of love, although I spoke to someone who felt that the connections people had made this year, the decisions about who and what they valued, did in fact constitute a revivified mode of being – and after all, why should 2020 or 2021 look like 1967 or 1989? Perhaps our collective gatherings will no longer take place in fields and parks and outside, although I can’t really imagine that there are other ways of being together that could possibly be as meaningful. But, after all, there were raves aplenty in 2020, and some protests were ideologically sanctioned, while others were not. Nature and the outside were increasingly contentious: the anti-nature ideologies of our age were translated into further material contestation, further policing. Dystopian technophilia from both the left and the right (although after a certain point of madness this political distinction stops mattering), promises us to rid us of our own nature, our own history, our own relation to tragedy and comedy, even as it also claims to be able to solve all the problems it created in the first place…just a bit more…progress…please! But ‘online’ is not the solution: the internet disembodies, it saddens, it creates sad affects, even as it ‘connects’ us. Whatever modes of being-together it permits, it cannot replace them. We are proximate creatures. While there are beautiful forms of solitude, isolation, loneliness and atomisation are devastating, looping into a hyper-individualistic rumination that creates not heightened being but absolute ruination of the self.
they swear that everything can be controlled technically, that there is no need for either a new god or a new sky, only prohibitions, experts and doctors – Agamben, ‘When The House is On Fire’
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