reality as commons
Andreas Weber (@biopoetics) tweeted at 5:06 AM – 7 Feb 2020 :
Reality is a “vast ecology of selves”. Brilliant Blogpost by David Bollier on the emerging worldview and world practice of “New Animism” and its role in commoning at https://t.co/uNZGuJonNv @RobGMacfarlane @GeorgeMonbiot @SchumacherColl @debidanowski (http://twitter.com/biopoetics/status/1225752594058031109?s=17)
article jan 2020 – the new animism and commoning – by david bollier
common\ing et al
animism: 1\ the attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena. 2\ the belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe
biology of life points to reality itself as a commons. – andreas weber (on david and silke’s book – patterns of commoning – Reality as Commons: A Poetics of Participation for the Anthropocene)
Reality as Commons: A Poetics of Participation for the Anthropocene
Seeking a new concept of what is human, numerous thinkers are doing away with the separations between humans and “nature,” “nature” and “culture,” and body and mind, which have dominated our self-understanding since the Enlightenment.
I argue that reality, from which we are descended and through which we experience and engender ourselves, is itself a commons that must be understood and connected to as such.
This process also encompasses what has recently been described as “conviviality” – “an art of living together (con-vivere) that allows humans to take care of each other and of Nature, without denying the legitimacy of conflict, yet by using it as a dynamizing and creativity-sparking force” (Alphandéry et al 2014).
I seek to shatter the familiar categories of “culture” and “nature,” which are invariably seen by moderns as separate and distinct. The two realms are in fact one, if we can recognize that reality is founded upon aliveness as the critical, connecting element.
Enlivenment is an ontology of aliveness, of coming to life, that is at once physical and intangible, and scientific and spiritual. It calls people to live in an unfolding natural history of freedom and self-realization.
Dualism is an invisible colonization of the soul..t
Dualism has appeal because it is a method for asserting control by dividing the world in two: an inanimate sphere (“nature”) that is to be dominated and a sphere of human subjects ordained to assert control..t
From this perspective, there is no difference between enclosure, commodification, and colonialization. All three not only attack living systems that have no single owner, they at the same time trample on the psychological and emotional identities connected to these resources. They are all attacks on “aliveness” itself – a capacity of life that is unavailable and incomprehensible to the dualistic mind. Therefore, they are also attacks on reality…t
making/keeping us .. whales in sea world
In this vein, political scientist David Johns (2014:42) observes, “Colonialism is nowhere more apparent and thriving than in the relationship between humanity and the rest of the earth.”
Actual action thus is always preceded by a tacit enclosure sanctioned by the deep assumptions of the mind. Enclosure usurps the categories of existence and disparages the concept of aliveness as well as the dimensions of experience linked to it
Enclosure occurs through a type of thinking that ignores creative processes and the meanings of emotions, both of which originate in the body. Enclosure instead subordinates these feelings to “rationality,” “stewardship,” empiricism, discursivity and control.
This reality is denied by our cognitive frameworks and language, resulting in what amounts to mental and spiritual enclosure..t
This colonialization of our innermost essence inescapably results in an “empty self,” as biophilosopher David Kidner (2014:10) predicts. This de facto “empty self” is indeed diagnosed by many as a current psychopathological “civilizational narcissism” that marks our times.
Italian philosopher Ugo Mattei believes that even the act of dividing the world into subject and object results in commodifying both (quoted in Bollier 2014). The commodification of the spirit inevitably finds a warped expression at the real and political level. “Nature” is banished to the periphery of the human world even though it still nourishes and sustains us, produces everything we eat, and remains the wellspring of creative energy. Every separation into subject and object divides the world into two realms, resources and profiteers. This boundary is not necessarily between things and people (or between matter and creatures), but between that which is used up, and those who benefit from that consumption.
Thus, we are suffering not only because of the commodification of the natural and social world. We are suffering because our conceptualization of the world itself allows commodification as the sole way to relate to it. It is no longer possible to speak about the world in the categories of subjective aliveness. We are suffering because of the enclosure of the spiritual through myriad cultural fictions of separation and domination that falsely parse the world into an outside (resource) and inside (actor).
Yet hardly anyone is aware of the profoundly misleading taxonomic screens of our language and worldview. We can barely imagine the extent to which our view of reality is distorted by spiritual enclosure..t
whales in sea world – we have no idea
We do not realize that the self-organizing nature of our everyday lives has disappeared from view..t.. – a dispossession far more radical than the one experienced by commoners locked out of their forests a few hundred years ago.
We do not appreciate how conceiving of our own selves as biomachines has impoverished us as humans, and how treating our emotional feelings chiefly as “chemical imbalances” (to be corrected through pharmaceuticals) denies an elemental dimension of our humanity..t
getting us back/to an undisturbed ecosystem ‘in undisturbed ecosystems ..the average individual, species, or population, left to its own devices, behaves in ways that serve and stabilize the whole..’ –Dana Meadows
Cutting living subjects off from participating in the commons of reality and its mixture of practices and emotions, objects and aspects of meaning, is destructive in another serious respect: It blinds us to the nature of enclosure itself. As psychologists Miguel Benasayag and Gérard Schmit (2007:101f) observe, the overarching ideology of enclosure is an ideology of control and dominance, and a denial of enduring relationships. This systemic worldview is not simply unjust and dangerous, it brazenly defies reality. It is cruel because it violates the web of relational exchange which reality is..t
The ideology of enclosure is inhumane because it generates a hierarchy in reality, ostensibly for human benefit, by installing humanity as custodian of the rational, the protector of the ordered, the knight battling chaos. Yet reality is not chaotic. On the contrary, it simply embodies an order that we are not always able to discern. Reality is structured as a creative expression of living agents, both human and more-than-human. Its structure, however, is sometimes invisible because its systems cannot be universalized, regimented or monetized without destroying life itself..t
letting go of the poisoning hard won order et al
a genuine posthumanism would recognize that we must imagine the deconstruction of the machines as functional essence of what is human.
The point is that commons are not only entities designed by humans. They are an existential, self-created necessity of all living exchange – i.e., of life itself.
Every commons is a rhizome – a material and informal network of living connections which constantly changes as it mutates and evolves.
It (commons) is an attempt to echo the forms of order implied in the self-creating wild through acts of creative transformation, in response to the existential imperatives of the wild.
The concept of the commons helps bridge – and transcend – the dualities that otherwise structure our self-awareness.. It helps us see and name our biological and our social aliveness as an indivisible whole conjoined to the rest of the world.
Our identities are rooted in the uncontrollable wild and in creative self-organization, neither of which can be entirely subject to control or “stewardship.” Such control (even when asserted through enclosure) cannot prevail ultimately because the instruments of control that we devise are themselves built on “uncontrollable forms” – wildness – which remain beyond strict control and understanding. So while humans may “dominate” “nature” in ways that posthumanism celebrates, conversely, we humans are grounded by forces of wildness that ultimately cannot be subdued and mastered through cultural control because culture relies on them as the basic principles of creation, self-organization and co-creative relations.
In our time, the great discourses – empirical rationality, human freedom as a rational actor, instrumental reason in economics – are being exposed as deficient, provoking a mad scramble to salvage them as coherent perspectives. The real issue of our time, then, is to activate a new language…t
the challenge is to redefine aliveness and humanity within it by complementing techné with the concept of poiesis. Techné means explainability, analysis and successful replication. Poiesis, by contrast, means creative self-realization – an element that brings forth reality, that cannot be suppressed, and that can never be sufficiently understood to be successfully controlled.
A creolization of thinking requires “peership” between empirical reality and feeling. All processes take place inside and outside an organism simultaneously; they are always conceptual and spiritual, but they are also always real in space and time. Taking the step across the abyss between the two cultures means understanding and reevaluating creative aliveness as the center of reality. Creative action is the experience of what is alive, as experienced from the inside, subjectively. One might call it “affective objectivity” – a universal and real phenomenon, but one that is also evanescent and resistant to measurement..t
self-talk as data et al..
stop measuring things
Commoners, one could say, follow a poetic reason that has emotive substance, but also material manifestations in people’s bodies, community life and local ecosystems. The poetic moment of their action manifests itself when the living forest and social community flourish together, in entangled synergy. This is something that can be perceived by the senses and experienced emotionally through the forest’s opulent biodiversity (and yes, also measured, but the measurements will invariably fail to grasp the animating power of the human affect).
If such a commons is colonialized – which today would mean to be reduced to a mere resource by industrial agriculture – the emotional needs of the people involved – belonging, meaning, identity – can no longer be fulfilled.. t
and then we have people thinking they want/need things they don’t really want/need
The emotional work of caring for a commons, however, is both an ecological necessity and a material reality, as well as it is a psychological need
Theodor W. Adorno (2013) is claiming when he argues that any art worthy of its name does not copy nature’s objects but rather follows its deep process of creative unfolding, freedom and “non-identity” – the impossibility of reducing an agent to just one substance, be that a causal mechanism or language-games.
We must shape our selfhood according to the needs of a larger whole that is necessary to all life. Autonomy is always inscribed within a larger whole and only possible through it. Paradoxically, autonomy is possible only through relation.
Internal, first-person insights that were ruled out by a worldview that accepts only the empirical/objective point of view – because they are not “real” in the material, physical sense – become valid..t
As living organisms, we must learn to experience and describe the world “from the inside” (emotionally, subjectively, socially) while at the same time treating it as a physical reality outside of us..the practical test is how to bring this ontological sensibility into the world and make it real..t
self-talk as data
by listening to every voice everyday.. via tech as it could be
The idea of working with the forces of nature and the social dynamics of living communities – rather than trying to deny them, bureaucratize them or forcibly overpower them – is a key principle of commons-based governance
Money is a means to objectify and separate. Putting a price on something reduces self-contained purpose to mere function.
ie: ubi as temp placebo..
They hail market creativity as the key force for inventing planet-healing technologies. This alone confirms that the postdualism of the Anthropocene is in fact still entirely anthropocentric; we are still enacting Enlightenment principles, but this time it hides behind a different mask.
masks and measures et al
This is why the tendency of certain sustainablity thinkers to hail “green economy” ecological economics and “green accounting” is questionable. To “factor in” natural services may be a quick, expedient amendment and it may in fact help otherwise-endangered ecosystems. Still, it deeply misunderstands the nature of our relationship with reality. As explained above, it fails to recognize that any exchange process is always and inevitably happening on many entangled, mutually dependent levels that reciprocally co-create one another, from the physiological to the spiritual. In a reality that consists of a dynamic and mutual unfolding of transformative relations, or existential commoning, that inescapably transforms both sides of an exchange, an economics and policy regime based on anthropocentric dualisms, including “posthumanism,” can never truly heal.
Epilogue: The Affirmation of Belonging
to connect, a separation is needed in the first place. It is a oneness achieved through the conjunction of two distinct unities. Identity is not wholeness, but “interpenetration,” as the Canadian literary critic Northrop Frye would have put it.
reality is revealed as a commons of those perceiving and those perceived, and their ongoing interactions. Its objectivity is not simply an academic discourse. Nor is it invented or constructed by human culture. Instead, reality is both a way of describing the world as it is and as a set of experiential practices. Like Aristotle’s ethical ideal of a mediation between the “wise and the many” (Nussbaum 2001), the ontology of the world is never fixed and unequivocal; it is always process, always birth, always becoming. The goal lies in participating in the enterprise of creative aliveness in order to make the world more real..t
We can overcome the misunderstanding of the Anthropocene that celebrates itself as the “era of humans.” To do so, however, we need an attitude of inclusivity, of mutual acceptance between attitudes, bodies, identities and sensations. We need the affirmation of belonging and a willingness to engage in an ongoing negotiation within a reality that we recognize as a commons.
we must acknowledge that the fertile wild ultimately cannot be denied, suppressed or enclosed without a profound constriction on our own freedom..t
let’s do this first: free art-ists.. and trust that dance