Exploring New Territories: Only a Dream Until It Isn’t

The usual has occurred yet again, and there doesn’t seem to be any hope that this will be changing any time soon. The drudgery of modern western life, having arisen from a model for aspiration that hasn’t been updated for two generations, has reached a point of supersaturation which permeates all the life one finds when stepping out their front door, a life which seems impossible to escape, to step outside of in order to behave differently from what has been presented and represented for fifty years as the model for comporting and conducting oneself in an appropriately pro-social and politically correct way. It is the model for participating in the social, period, and, if not followed, bars one from access to the mainstream social, which possesses the remarkable ability to shape reality as it sees fit, like a river flowing, forming canyons, or like a glacier running, flattening everything in its wake. And every person one meets knows the stories from those fifty years, which is what gives the mainstream social the inertial force to continue its operation: it is the incessant talking of nothing else but the grinding development of those stories which are at their tail-end, having endured long enough to shape an era which some have termed ‘late capitalism’, which makes it unlikely for the course of the social to be diverted, to arrive at any place other than what it has been pressing toward for the past few decades. The language spoken among the inhabitants of this late capitalist world has become super-saturated as well, laden with terms which feel thick and cumbersome and exhausting to articulate because their repetition for years and years have made them dull, even meaningless. They are ineffective terms the newer generations feel pressured to use to communicate even the visions and ideas for a world not motivated by the same goals which the language only remains to articulate, not set into motion by the same industries and the same socio-economic tensions and international relations which defined the last century. Yet, because those terms are still the only ones which are recognized as suitable for intelligent discourse, new words introduced cautiously which might evoke a different social climate are relegated to the genre of ‘fantasy’, or to what would be condescendingly referred to as a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ manner of speaking. To refuse to speak the sanctioned vocabulary would be naive at best, and easily a cause for alienation.

This is a political problem, but it is also one of language as a means for self-expression and community building, so is more fundamental than party or economic motive. That these four prerogatives—self-expression, community building, party, economic motive—are readily made equivalent, or at least understood as terms belonging to the same discussion, is an example of the problem: simply put, not everything one says for the sake of their community has to be political, nor does all that an individual has to say have to be understood within the context of their social position. This imperative to state the position from which one is about to be speaking, before speaking, is a motivating cause for why everyone wears their social and political identities on their sleeve—it is more efficient to do so. What comes from this, however, is that, when moving through the public sphere—the modern western world—one is never not their claimed social and political identity.

This, again, is exhausting, as well as ineffective, and counter-productive, for a spirit excited by things not yet understood, by territories—be they mental or physical—which have not yet been charted, to which by definition they do not belong, and for the sake of which they begin to tentatively speak, though unwitting of the political or social ramifications of the new territory. Somehow, maybe in the interest of self-preservation, it has come about that everyone presupposes, before engaging in any public discourse, that all things and all places on this Earth have been charted—they speak as of this is the case. For areas in this universe which have not been so charted, and so exist in a nebulous, extra-political realm, suspended in a state prior to being appropriated definitively by socio-political forces, the possibility of their exploration has been constrained by the sensitivities of those with an interest in maintaining the global map as it currently exists, who would not welcome new discoveries which would change the landscape dramatically. Such things as, for example, the human brain—what has really shaped it; what next it yearns to be shaped by—or else things which exist at the scale of the very small—molecular—or the very large—cosmic—have been prospected by those commandeering the advanced infrastructures needed to reach them, insofar as they have been accepted as territories which need be expanded into, and mined for new riches. They have been made so that access to them, by the enterprising and spirited folk who hold within them a passion for discovery, can only be gained via passage through territories controlled by those institutions which someone like Eric Weinstein might describe as having ‘legacy interests’: universities; banks; military complexes. Such institutions which in much the same way have controlled navigation through the turbulent waters of global trade via the Panama Canal, for example.

How does somebody who was born within a world systematically bounded by these legacy interests developed over the last four centuries hold out any hope of one day stepping outside those borders defined long before they even learned to speak the language that was given to them in order to—as it has been phrased before—further ‘colonize their mind’?

The above is no longer a question which only those of a certain race, or of a certain class or a certain gender, are allowed to ask. It has become a problem of global consequence for everyone at all levels of social interest, because everyone has been made subject to institutions whose presence sucks the oxygen right out of the room, thereby making it impossible to breathe, much less find confidence to speak on anything not already sanctioned by those whose interest it is to control the narrative.

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Author’s Note: There is of course an irony in couching the whole argument for ‘another mode of being and speaking’, etc., in terms best suited for imperial and economic expansion.

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