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the Intersection (Superflux, 2021)
If you can accept that we’re already steeped in the metaverse, that our bodies remain in the physical world while our brains are increasingly minding a digital life… then it only follows that there needs to be some type of protocol to establish ownership, goods, and property in cyberspace. The apt currency to trade in this galaxy of virtual worlds are crypto[currency] coins like Bitcoin, Cardano, and Doge… Planet Earth has been slow and cautious in accepting Jedi cash, so in the metaverse, NFTs are commodities and utilities to spend cryptocurrency and accrue value with digital investments. Even my grade-school sons appreciate how a fist full of Robux (Roblox) or V-Bucks (Fortnite) enhances their life over a $20 USD bill at Target.
Like its disdain for fashion, tech’s myopically optimistic take on the metaverse exposes its contempt for public space. What companies have touted so far is an effort at, in Merchant’s words, “creating and uniting more immersive digital environments in which entertainment might be consumed and work carried out – and advertising displayed, workers surveilled, and branded NFTs and loot boxes sold.” That is, the “metaverse” serves as would-be branding for this more robust facsimile of public space where a broader range of social expression can be more readily captured and monetized. Instead of a departure from atomized, feed-based social media, this version of the metaverse aspires to be its apotheosis, an environment where “presence” itself is proprietary.
The state is on fire, and the CEOs are pushing mindfulness on their employees while presumably both buying their own bullshit and also preserving enough old-fashioned practical rationality to keep their “minds on their money” as well, and on the escape pods they’ve constructed to evacuate them to New Zealand, should that become necessary… What is interesting about Facebook mindfulness, or Berkeley Bayesianism, or Stanford Girardianism, is not the content of the claims, but the illustration these provide of the longue durée dynamics of California history: a history of vapid curiosity, always skimming just over the surface of a process of immeasurable destruction.
Ancient astronomers had no way of measuring Mercury’s real orbital speed. They could only observe its apparent motion. And while Mercury bounces from one side of the sun to the other more frequently than Venus, their apparent speed isn’t much different.
China wishes to maintain a discreet military presence in Africa and avoid at all costs being seen as a new colonial power. The [Private Security Companies] may be the tool it needs to prevent the defense of its citizens and assets from forcing it into military interventions that, for the time being, remain out of its reach. But it is to be feared that the increase in military aid and private security may lead Beijing to move away from its principle of non-interference.
While using existing old weapons and ammunition in the 1990s [Hamas] also had an urgent need to obtain weapons to arm their partisans, whose numbers began to increase daily. [The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades] found they had nothing to arm their men with except for a few old weapons – the most famous of which was the “M/45 Carl Gustaf” 9×19mm submachine gun (from which they later copied the operating mechanism from to produce their improvised Carlo SMG, this also indicates where the Carlo took its nickname from). From these humble beginnings, the Qassam brigades quickly began to think about manufacturing their weapons.
Like the stone lined canals in Kyoto, the terraced rice fields of Java allowing for millennia of continuous rice growing, the sandstone aqueducts of Italy still able to transport water after two millennia, the ancient Greek amphitheater still in use for plays and concerts, the cobblestone streets of Copenhagen that haven’t been resurfaced in five hundred years, we need to go back to thinking about our infrastructure not in terms of five year plans and technical efficiency, but in long term sustainability. If a bridge cannot be built that will last a thousand years, why build it? Why not build one that will last, even if it will be a less efficient or more expensive in the short run?
As a lifelong consumer of end of the world fantasies, I can appreciate the allure of the narrative this slick zine is selling. As a teen dungeon master, I had tremendous fun mapping out the post-apocalyptic ruins of my otherwise boring Midwestern hometown on huge sheets of hex paper. I couldn’t find many who wanted to visit them with me. Which makes sense, because these narratives are really the ultimate expressions of our alienation from each other, fantasies of solitary dominion and personal rewilding that reveal far more about the social structure of life under contemporary capitalism than they do about what its collapse would really be like.
A society’s progress depends on whether significant numbers of people are working toward goals that have never been achieved before and on whether they are able to mobilize resources toward them. People need to be able to act as founders, not just as members of existing institutions. The first step is to embrace modes of life that are conducive to vision and mastery. This cannot, for the most part, come from within existing institutions. They have neither the incentive nor the ability to create them.
The popularity of the high-tops – which come in instantly recognizable white-and-blue boxes – is something rarely acknowledged aloud. But they are often inconspicuously displayed among the pairs of walking and running shoes, boots and sandals, a single sneaker sitting at the front of many vendor tables that line the bazaar’s dimly lit alleyways.
In a proposal published in 2014, Sansha City’s delegation to the Hainan Province People’s Congress admitted that the city was training fishermen to guard the islands and reefs within the city’s jurisdiction. The proposal further explained that “regardless of whether they are fishermen operating in distant seas or fishermen engaged in aquaculture or other activities, they can all become well-trained militiamen and receive corresponding subsidies.”