I have started using raindrop.io as a social bookmarking tool, but really a to read later tool. I have four identities journal tabs up that I don’t want to put them raindrop and I dont want to close the tabs and I am a COMPLETIST so I am just going to binge read/comment on them right here!
Lets do it! Its TLDR – but I will reward you with a virtual shot of tequila at the end so have at it. The texts I am mashing up are Writing Theory During a Pandemic by Joao Florencio, Animality,Metaethical Judgements and Predictive Justice by Ekin Erkan, Self-Lockdown by Andrea Peto, My favorite (and shortest) Zarathustra (Un) Vaccinated by Zlatomir Zlatanov, and Dreams about Time by Adriana Zaharijevic.
Mashup Time! We have a subject(often us) and an object/other (covid often)- we have a way to mediate between them (time, capitalism, death), a way to turn them into each other, a way each affects the other, and then our whole framework are we just looking at this incorrectly and there is no subject/object. This is sort of the history of all western philosophy – you are welcome!
I really enjoyed Peto’s article, which is about what theory (feminist theory) can learn from the covid19 pandemic. Everyone is theorizing the covid19, but lets infect theory! What does this infection do? We get three things, 1) covid dismantles theory. Similar to the way that a virus injects RNA into a cell and rewrites the way that cell functions, covid19 has a way to force us to rethink how we do theory. I am not sure how – but on a structural level it does introduce/replace mediums (zoom/live stream/etc), and it makes us grapple with questions of probability, scale, statistics, and symptoms.
2) Globalism and scholarship. I have been thinking a lot about globalism and capitalism (thanks to the planetary mine class at MEP), and globalism and the virus (how the virus spread so quickly), but not really globalism and scholarship. The dual nature of globalism both creates permeability and immobility. But, namely that using certain languages and lexicons as a requirement for peer reviewed journals are a method of exclusion. And this is an echo of the viral RNA lexicon of G, U, A, C which is another gate keeper (as well as a homophone with guac, the delicious Mexican food that I miss dearly during this pandemic). Theory must open its language.
3) Third, what does theory learn from defeat. From no longer being the position of power, the colonizer, the imperialist, the center of knowledge production. What does a theory that does not have a center look like? What is a defeated theory? (I sort of think theory is already defeated – so maybe this should be like theory wakes up to its true ontological status)
Erkan also brings up feminist authors as those that challenge that traditional modes of philosophical system building (Kant, Hegel, etc). He also addresses ethics and judgement (how do we act!).. This happens to be the next subject, sort of, of my next newsletter – so sign up if you so desire.
How do traditional philosophies (often anthropocentric and often male-centric) create world view/transcendental categories/language/logics that exclude other modes of though. It closes the space of possibility and imagination that allows us to act nimbly to unexpected events such as a mass pandemic (covid), and perceive solutions beyond economic destruction, destruction of social fabric, and interior life (mental health)? Perhaps as Haraway has us become chimeras and network with otherkin, perhaps we should include beings at different scales of existence. What does it mean to be otherkin with a rainstorm, or a bacteria. Is this even possible? Can we enter into a relationship with something that we dont interface but form whom we are a milieu (covid), or in whose milieu’s we live (rainstorms). I can explore this in the book I will never write – Socializing with scale.
Again we have self hatred on theory during a pandemic by Joao. I just have to say, you do you – engage in theory as a mental health exercise. It is useful to reflect on how we got here, on what it means to be in this massive global quarantine. For those people who are judging others for their pandemic theorizing – like .0001% of the population even care about this stuff, so I am pretty sure theorizing on covid19 is a path to fame and glory.
There is some actual due diligence in the philosophy of science and of statistics that could contribute to better treatment of the sick and management of the spread of the pandemic. In particular, understanding the limits of current epidemiology, the relationship between populations and individuals, the nonlinear dynamics of various viruses (covid19) – and their various phases (cough, fever, intubation etc).
Many years ago I participated in a project to collect malnutrition data in Malawi, for epidemiology. This huilt for a time where there was a 3-6 month lag between data collection, analysis and deployment. However, with current technology you can collect and analyze the data in real time, and you can act on individuals and not populations. You look at the data in a strategic way to understand how to long term change situations in order to prevent malnutrition, but you no longer need populations as a statistical tool to treat this, because you can know immediately whether or not someone is malnourished and immediately determine a course of action. This is similar to the situation we are in regarding the covid19 analysis. So theorize away I say -haters gonna hate.
Finally Space and Time, our favorite categories. Zaharijevic says that covid19 destroys time and preserves space. I sort of agree, my kids keep asking me what day it. But space is ever present. My space in quarantine, the space of the people in my zoom, and as Zaharijevic mentions, the space of hospital beds (or space dividing the well and the sick), the space of 6 feet. This week there were numerous holidays – I celebrated passover and I felt a qualitative difference in time. Not of what day it is, but what kind of time it is. We have the binary categories of sacred/profane, or work/play, but what does a spectral view of time look like?
Zaharijevic calls for a reinvention of time. That what this pandemic reveals is a rupture in our normal experience of time (however dysfunctional it may be in the service of capital). We cannot go back to our old notion of time, but must grasp for a new time. Perhaps this is the realm of dreams or the realm of poetry. Perhaps yes, it is perhaps the realm of all these things, and more.
Cheers – have a shot of tequila – on me.