Worldbuilding the real world: build good ruins – Part 2

Part 1 is here:

The first part concluded that we need to build from the bottom, that top-down, expert-led action is not enough anymore, that community work of everyday is the resilience we need to thrive in these interesting times.

When we pursue bottom up design and implementation, these still need to be guided by common principles that comes from a higher view – so yes, there is still space for urban planners, government, but it becomes more of a conversation. How can we imagine and visualise this, as a global community of communities? Metarkitex talks about public space in the digital world, and asks do these public spaces exist online? Are they accessible and welcoming to everyone?

Public space developed to a space where people can go without aim or arrangement

This post continues with clips from an interview with Vandana Shiva and Dougald Hine.

8:48 I think the celebrations in real living cultures become very important to create another vocabulary, another voice.

10:20 We can be talking about completely opposite things [e.g. that climate change is linked to the destruction of the biosphere, that to adapt to climate change we need to reduce consumption, rebuild the soil, strengthen local links, slow food, etc] to what other people who are talking about taking climate change seriously think that means and points to [spend money to “fix it”, adapt but not reduce consumption, export the developed world’s costs] and if they are much more powerful than the movements that we’re part of in the way that the world sees power just now, we have to be willing to try sounding foolish, starting from other languages saying these things that look too small to be taken seriously according to the logic of the world we grew up being taught by; these things are where we have to build from instead.

I want the metaverse to strengthen those foolish little voices, scurrying around at the bottom, doing the long hard invisible work of building the good ruins, planting the seeds and building the soil of healthy societies to grow in. One way I am thinking of doing this is through TLCs – three letter communities.

Funny 12:16:  it’s unbelievable every economical word means the opposite what its original word meant!

19:08 It is a way of life that we’re dependent on that is at risk. The kind of panic relates more to that sense of emergency of climate change than it does a real understanding of the transition that is obviously happening around us. It’s modernity-coloniality that is perhaps ending, not the planet. (And, Dougald adds, modernity is ending, how much else is it going to take with it? Because it has been founded on destruction from the beginning)

“Merge of real and virtual: Eventually, virtual worlds will function as “what-if machines” that we can use to answer questions about things so that we can go from a society that is often stymied by complex problems to one that can learn how to better manage complexity in the real world.“

Quick diversion into socio-ecological systems as an example of a robust system that can manage this transition…

social-ecological systems (us, in our world)

Robust design often involves a trade-off between maximum system performance and robustness. A “robust” system will typically not perform as efficiently with respect to a chosen set of criteria as its non-robust counterpart. However, the robust system’s performance will not drop off as rapidly as its non-robust counterpart when confronted with external disturbance or internal stresses.

The idea of enhancing the robustness of SESs is appealing in the present context of rapid change and increasing uncertainty at and across various scales. 

The first step is to develop a framework to study the robustness of SESs and then to posit broad design principles for robust SESs that may be improved with further research.

Any such framework must address three issues: 1) cooperation and potential for collective action must be maintained within the social system, 2) ecological systems are dynamic, as are the rules of the games that agents play amongst themselves, and 3) ecological systems can occupy multiple stable states and move rapidly between them. 

The innovation in this paper is that we propose a framework to address these three issues (the resource, its governance system, and associated infrastructure) as a coupled system. 

By robustness, we mean “the maintenance of some desired system characteristics despite fluctuations in the behavior of its component parts or its environment”

A SES is robust if it prevents the ecological systems upon which it relies from moving into a new domain of attraction that cannot support a human population, or that will induce a transition that causes long-term human suffering.

The ability of a social system to persist in the face of an ecological collapse is a sign that that system has a low adaptive capacity in relation to that ecological resource. Rather than searching for mechanisms to prevent the collapse of a resource base, the social system maintains itself and looks for another resource to exploit.

Eventually, we hope to be able to offer some useful suggestions for how to avoid this sequential destruction of natural resources. – This is what I want the metaverse to help with.

Getting back to the conversation with Vandana Shiva and Dougald Hine:

17:06 The more they say listen to the science with a capital S they’re basically saying listen to corporate propaganda, which has no content in scientific terms. So in a way there’s a scientific vacuum on the top and there’s an emergence of the multiple sciences, the plurality of science.

18:26 It seems to me that this reliance on journalism that it’s in these short clips and fast ways of of talking about complex issues seems dependent on mechanistic language and mechanistic thinking to survive.

22:38 The problem with this way of thinking it’s not that the science is wrong, it’s how much gets left out and how suited particular versions of science are as you say to the interests of those who currently exercise political and economic power.

During the drought my loyalty to science, and knowledge in the way I understood it and have been trained into it finally died. Afterwards I realised I struggled with this since at least in my undergraduate studies. It caused an identity crisis that I still struggle with. At this time I started talking about “complicating the narrative”, and toyed with the “decolonising” narrative but populism ripped that out of context. I’ve left academia, but I don’t yet know where to call home next. Science as it is applied currently is not good. It’s not humane.

25:35 If governments and corporations are not going to make the actual shift then we need to make that shift. Everyday people must make that shift.

 25:55 What is the dynamic that we need to embrace in order to see the kinds of changes that we know we’d like to see? … 26:20 “a biodiversity of of movements”

31:18 Western politics became framed by about the 1840s inside this box of industrial society. Politics is now spread out along an axis that is about how we organize and divide the spoils of industrialization – but the whole framework is no longer in question and the destruction on which it was built. We forgot that industrialisation may not be framework we need or want.

34:49 Actually the real divide that is running through the world today is no longer the divide between those who believe climate change is happening and we need to do something about it and those who are in denial about it. It’s the divide between those who see the Anthropocene as a humbling, as an encounter with endings and consequences that means we need to start listening and be ready to turn away from the projects of modernity, and those who see it as legitimating a new global project, which just becomes the next colonialism in the name of saving the world.

Well, that hit me right in the feels. I’m very much in the humbling camp. I get very pissed off when people say, oh but you engineers will fix the sewers, you will fix the drought, you will fix the climate. No, you cunts. We fix and you just use! You just absorb all the grace we bleed out for you! Stop! STOP!! Just. Use. Less. Radically less. Stop trying to consume the emptiness in your heart. Sit in that discomfort and ask yourself the hard questions. Do the work. We can’t do the work for you anymore.

36:40 The arrogance of the anthropocentric idea goes along with the mastery of nature, and now using and appropriating the technocratic part of environmentalism [Think, electric vehicles rather than robust public transport, along with a redesign of our cities to be more humane]. But, maintaining that Web of Life is our work that’s what I see as work in the ruins. That little seed that grows is what the future is about, and this humbling in fact enlarges our space to be relevant.

I’m also listening to Bella Ciao a lot these days. Ti Amo just popped up and got me out of a slump. If we’re going to do the hard backbreaking work, literally at the grassroots, I also want a kick-ass soundtrack. I also want the plot and the characters. I want the metaverse to provide the dramatic backdrop.

37:31 Part of what we are being asked to do is look at systems as a whole not just the consumption end because at the consumption end is where tricks get played to maintain consumerism with higher footprint with more injustice.

 38:22 For a lot of people it’s unimaginable that things could be other than how they are and therefore attempts to perpetuate these trajectories of modernity as experienced from the modern colonizing end of the spectrum, the consuming end of the spectrum is, however desperate, however implausible, that’s imaginable in a way that the idea that things could go otherwise without it just being the end of the world is unimaginable.

40:30 But it’s one thing to experience that and have a sense of kind of rage often half articulate a sense of things not being right. But to give people a story, a sense that might be another chapter, there might be a turn away from this road that was meant to lead to the future as modernity imagined it I, that seems to me to be the hard thing.

This, THIS is why I want to build peduncle. To allow people to imagine something different. In small ways, slowly, gently, with the people around them, while having fun.

the right to useful unemployment – Yvonne Ilitch

41:43 “Zuckerberg said in the future 99% of humanity will be useless because artificial intelligence and robots will do all our work”. We don’t exist to work, and I really want to break this mindset in my own head that my worth is attached to how much I get paid. I think there is an argument for attaching worth to how much value we add, but that is not (just) financial value.

42:23 Reclaiming our place on Earth as creative beings co-creating with the Earth so that we get out of this cost of living nonsense. We are part of the earth, everyone has a right to breathe, eat, live, have shelter, and how do we get systems that lower our footprint and enlarge our well-being? That possibility is ecologically there, it just has to be communicated.

43:12  The peculiar helplessness of the kinds of human beings bred by modernity. We don’t have the capacity as communities to grow our own food, to build our own houses, to care for our own sick and dying, that creates all of these new kinds of scarcity and crisis. A lot of what we experienced during the pandemic was actually the the consequence of that peculiar new scarcity.

43:50 So long as households and neighborhoods had the capacity to care for the sick and the dying and bury the dead, if you had a winter where there was a 20% increase in the number of mostly elderly people dying from a nasty virus that was going around, every family mourns those they lose, but the society as a whole does not have to be brought to a halt.

Once you’re in this situation where it’s very hard in a modern Western Society to die without passing through a hospital, and a hospital is a thing that is staffed by people who have years of training as doctors and nurses, then neither the skill nor the time is there for the work of care to be part of the life of a family and a community, then suddenly a 20% increase in the number of people dying that winter is a system crash which justifies needing to put whole societies into lockdown.

Make the suit a faux pas

Vandana also talks about the sari as an example of reclaiming the perennial:

45:37 The rise of modernity in the time of colonialism: This sari is a perennial in India but the fast fashion won’t be able to sell junk clothing unless they get the young people to think the sari is primitive and obsolete and so suddenly this perennial clothing has become of the past, and wearing throwaway clothing has become of the future.

I want to flip this script. I want it to be so culturally unacceptable to show up in those damn uncomfortable dark blue pinstripe penguin uniforms, that to me just represents capitalism and patriarchy and kak, that you would not even think entering the world stage wearing one. That you won’t be taken seriously wearing one. In the beginning, we can play with, wearing funky socks, a loud tie. A dress. Then, full cosplay. Fully celebrate your hand-made creations that you are comfortable to express yourself in.

But why build good ruins? Why not good foundations? I use the word ruins to evoke a sense of romanticism, of unfinished potential. We look at ruins and imagine what was, what could have been, what could be. When we look at foundations, we think, someone is busy here, best not get in the way. When we look at foundations we think someone knows what’s going on, there’s a plan, someone is in control. And we don’t have that, we don’t have a coherent plan. We can’t build a plan, a foundation, something that will survive intact without us. We can fool around and make half-finished prototypes, things that start decaying even as we work on them. Looking at where we are now, during late capitalism, in the climate crisis, we’re fucked. And, like someone who is dying, in palliative care, we can tell stories, spend the last of our time playing, feeling good things. No one feels good building a foundation. But we do enjoy making transient things, not having to worry what happens to them.

One Reply to “Worldbuilding the real world: build good ruins – Part 2”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML Snippets Powered By :