Seven Artists of the Week – cut my life into piece, golf is my favorite sport

This week’s picks from Ryan:

Raphael Garnier, Thickbox

Raphael Garnier, Thickbox

Baptiste de Bombourg, Turbo 0

Baptiste de Bombourg, Turbo 0

Merijn Hos, Implosions

Merijn Hos, Implosions

Stephanie Pryor, Jag

Stephanie Pryor, Jag

Nicole Cherubini, Black Flower

Nicole Cherubini, Black Flower

Pedro Bell

Pedro Bell

Joanne Greenbaum, Prom King

Joanne Greenbaum, Prom King

suffocation, no reading

Comments 1

  1. Audrey wrote:

    Dxrey, there’s certainly a case to be made for a later peak than 1850-1900. The porlbem, of course, is that there’s no direct way to quantify the peak of a civilization, and the avaiable proxy measurements peak at different times. One reason I tend not to use strictly technological measurements such as energy per capita, though, is that past civilizations have peaked in technology long after they were clearly on the way down in other ways. Roman technology, for example, continued to improve long after the Empire was visibly crumbling and its economic basis was approaching rigor mortis. There’s also the risk of confusing a mode of production with a specific civilization. When you talk of “industrialism,” you’re discussing a particular mode of economic production. When I talk of Western industrial civilization, I’m talking about a particular institutional and cultural assemblage that emerged in one corner of Europe in the 1700s. The latter evolved the former as its distinctive economic framework, but the two aren’t the same and their respective declines, though related, are not identical. The measurements I use for the decline of a civilization are the extent of its political control and the vitality of its cultural forms. They’re not the only possible ways of measuring decline, but they do seem to work well. In the case of Rome, to return to a familiar example, the point in time when the empire’s borders began to contract, and its population abandoned traditional cultural forms in art, religion, etc. for forms imported from other cultures, happens about the same time that the factors that eventually dragged Roman civilization down became solidly established. Mind you, I don’t see political contraction and abandonment of cultural forms as the causes of collapse — they’re proxy measurements that help track less measurable changes, nothing more. In the same way, western industrial civilization reached its peak political expansion between 1850 and 1900, when European nations and their colonies controlled most of the planet; European cultural forms also peaked around the same time. The twentieth century saw the collapse of European empire and the widespread abandonment of European cultural forms in favor of other cultures’ forms imported from abroad. I suspect historians of the future, looking back on that same century, will be able to trace the causes of our final collapse very clearly. Toynbee’s analysis, by the way, is a good deal more subtle than the notion that the creative minority’s elan gives way! My post tries to take a stab at it, and even so it’s an oversimplification. From a Toynbeean perspective, which is by no means entirely mine, btw, the creative minority of Western civilization became a dominant, and merely coercive, minority well before 1900, leading to the schism in society between rulers and internal proletariat that he saw as a central force pressing toward ruin. The fact that some members of that dominant minority drew their power from the economic rather than the political dimensions of modern society, in his view, is immaterial. TRB, it’s a perfectly reasonable question. Few people today realize that health care is one of the most energy- and resource-intensive aspects of industrial society. Pharmaceuticals in particular require huge investments in capital plant and energy to make, transport, store, and use. In a deindustrial future, many current pharmaceuticals will be so costly they might as well not exist at all, and many others will have become useless due to the spread of resistance among microbes — already a massive porlbem, as you may well know. The advantage of herbal medicine is that it’s reliably low-tech. You don’t need a billion-dollar factory with clean rooms and expensive gear; you need a patch of dirt, some seeds, and the very simple gear needed to process the results into medicines. Now of course not all health conditions can be treated effectively with herbs, but in a deindustrial world, a lot of health conditions won’t be treatable, period — and the great majority of the common health issues that take up the bulk of all doctor’s visits today do respond well to herbs and other low-tech health care modalities. In the deindustrial world, people who get very sick will die more often than they do today. Nothing we do will be likely to change that. The question is whether basic sanitation and some of the other low-cost elements of modern medicine can be combined with low-tech healing methods such as medicinal herbalism to produce something that will prevent and cure a significant amount of illness, and I think the answer can be yes. Dan, I don’t argue with your assertion at all. The community, not the individual, is the basic unit of human survival, and a community is built by acts of generosity. I’m not a great fan of Kropotkin generally but he makes some extremely good points about mutual aid as the foundation of any human culture worth having.

    Posted 26 Aug 2015 at 3:48 PM

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