2009/07/11

Question: Can We Design The Next-Evolution of Community?



Nova Spivek had an interesting post on Twine:(a smarter way to keep up with what you’re into) that I could not resist commenting on.

Nova Spivek diagnoses:
- Loneliness, social isolation, and social fragmentation are huge and growing problems
- Our present communities are not working and most are breaking down or stagnating.



in a comment on Nova's post Scott Newell observes that "Community is at the heart of civilization. Without a strong sense of it, civilization begin it's inevitable decline".


I personally believe that all living species are governed by a set of immutable rules:
- without a community the individual can't reproduce and his species dies out.
- without a dose of individualism the community is bound to stagnate and then to collapse.

The balance of the tension between those two polarities within all living species seems to act as the ticking clock on their evolutionary roads.

From humanity's long haul history we observe that societal forms go hand in hand with the sharing by the individual atoms of a common view about reality (worldview).
- animism within tribes over tens of thousands of years.
- religion and/or philosophies within kingdoms and empires over a few thousand years.
- modernity within nation states over a few hundred years.
Do you observe, as I do, how one zero is taken away from the length of any successive societal epoch?

Animism, religions and traditional philosophies balanced the tension between the two polarities (societies / individuals). Modernity, in stark contrast, favors the individual over the community. This was true in the time of the merchants and "discoverers" fighting the edicts and interdictions of Christianity and this is true today in the fight of Western modernity against the edicts and interdictions of Islam or in the fight of Chinese modernity against the edicts and interdictions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Force is to observe that anywhere the idolatry of individualism has rooted this has led to the demise of the religions / philosophies that were shared by the individuals. Individualism is a powerful force indeed. In testament to this force that was perceived as destructive religions and traditional philosophies anywhere on earth devised the same kind of answers:
- material possessions don't bestow happiness nor contentment
- happiness and contentment result from the sharing of the accepted worldview among all the individuals of any given time.

Modernity departed from this idea to balance the tension between individuals (atoms) and community (grouping) and favored individual enterprise over societal cohesion. More precisely it subordinated social cohesion to the individual enterprise of its triumphing entrepreneurs who in the process of their accumulation of capital gained the levers of powers within their societies.

Practiced extremely successfully over less than two centuries, during high modernity, this process unfolds today in late modernity when we observe two concomitant forces at work:
- ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION: Financialization, Outsourcing, Institutional lag, Eradication of all particularisms and traditions (languages, belief systems,..., etc.)
- SIDE-EFFECTS OF MODERNITY, a converging set of Crises:
+ Environmental Chaos: Climate Change, loss of bio-diversity, poisoning of land, water and air, etc.
+ Resource Collapse: Oil. Water. Topsoil. Fisheries. Seeds. Arable land. Minerals. Copper. Food, etc.
+ Societal Atomization: Loneliness, social isolation, and social fragmentation acting as the symptoms of a grave societal malady. Cause: the loss of a commonly shared worldview is thinning the societal glue to the point of societal atomization.

Nova's "Question: Can We Design The Next-Evolution of Community?" has to be understood and answered in this particular context.

My personal take is that "The Next-Evolution of Community" is out of our hands. It will result as a new realignment or balance of the near infinite load of factors interacting in the "whole earth ensemble" or "whole earth system": climate, resources, species, humanity, etc. This in no way implies any determinism. We are faced with many possible outcomes.
Our dreams and visions of a better tomorrow will eventually bring us to act as a nano-push on the unfolding balance between those many possibles.
"I believe that what we do today depends on our image of the future, rather than the future depending on what we do today. We build our equations by our actions. These equations, and the future they represent, are not written in nature. In other words, time becomes construction. Of course, we have some conditions that determine limits of the future but within these limits are many, many possibilities.
Therefore, since no deterministic prediction is likely to be valid, visions of the future--utopian visions--play a very important role in present conduct."
(quote of Ilya Prigogine from an interview by NPq of Fall 2004 titled "Beyond Being and Becoming")

As the posts on this site attest my paintings reflect on my dreams and my visions of the future understanding of what is reality.

Nothing is clearly delineated in my works. I can't paint the body of an elephant on the legs of a giraffe as Daly did. Nor can I paint an open window of my room in the sky as Magritte did. Nor can I attach a toilet seat on the wall as Duchamp had the audacity to do. Nor can I monkey VanGogh, Picasso or anyone else in impressionism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism or any other "ismic" fashion. The reason is not that I can't technically execute such works. No the reason is simply that I find that those ways of painting are not longer making any sense in our age, My dreams and visions of the future have no clearly delineated contours nor explanations nor imagery of reality.
In other words I don't know the text nor the imagery nor the sound of our coming worldview. It's more as if I had flashes of intuition or a vague sense of the patterns, rhythms and colors of a more evolved understanding of reality. Ilya Prigogine very presciently told "since no deterministic prediction is likely to be valid, visions of the future--utopian visions--play a very important role in present conduct". I consider my painting as an utopian vision. A vision of the beautiful patterns unfolding along the changing nature of a global system called reality.

As I many times have written we'll never be able to acquire a photographic like image of the global reality in which we are such tiny particles. At best we'll have the chance to express a glimmer of its patterns or a little piece of the infinitely vast puzzle of its always changing nature. That's what I'm interested in. I don't know how to express in words the last thought that came to my mind. It's something aking to the sub-title of this blog "Without technique what we express seems unfinished and without intellectual content it is as if what we express were shallow." I no longer suffer unfinished creations, it's as if they were dirty to my eyes, and I no longer suffer shallowness it's as if it was a waste of my time. I'm interested to understand myself and how I fit in the whole in which I feel such a tiny speck of dust and that's what I try to illustrate.

2 comments:

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