Is this course for you?
The recent IPCC report of the UN – the sixth of its kind – lays bare in its pages a grim conclusion: if we don’t pull back from the brink of a 1.5 Celsius degree change in global average temperatures, the world as we know it will inevitably be destroyed by runaway transformations of our environments. In private, many of the scientists who are narrating this tale of civilizational endings do not think the current assemblage of nation-states, policymakers, and institutions “have it in them” to rush in and defuse the climate bomb about to go off: there is a quality to the countdown that strikes a note of inevitable doom. As such, they adduce a popular, activist-led response to the structures of the familiar might be our best chance at shaking off the complacency of the status quo.
But our struggle is also a co-production of the very structures we seek to dismantle, sourced within the same algorithms that keep the gleaming towers rising and plumes of industrial yearning dancing in the skies. As such, the Anthropocene seems to be a constricted space within which one might address the impasses of modernity: its circuits and cartographies are meticulously formulated and well-laid, corresponding with the effect of entrapping the individual subject in a self-repeating intensity. Like ants in death spirals.
It would seem that we must call into question the primacy of the Anthropocene as a foundation for accountability, agency, and action – and, together with that, the reductionism of climate justice, the metaphysics of climate change, and the need for something more than solutions. From the posture of other world-making rituals, death is not the threat: sustainability is not at stake. What’s at stake is the exquisite sensorial openings lost to the closures of the modern. What we need is some kind of rupture that distresses the embodiment projects of racial-climatic-geological entanglements. We need a break.
The pedagogical goal of this animist course is to theorize the breaks, to stay there, to serve those disarticulated by, distressed with, and disenchanted from, dominant politics and its counteroffensive activisms – those tired of usual ways of speaking, exhausted with forced compliance, and longing for other ways of becoming response-able to these interesting times. The course offers reframes inspired by traditions and insights and readings that present a fugitive break from the usual. In other words, the curricular focus of this course is to put wounds to work, to treat them as portals and cracks connected with larger territorial shifts instead of matters to be eradicated by a dominant mode of being.
But the aim of the course is not helping people “get it” or arrive at a fixed consensus – the aim is not even to find solutions to our problems; the unique invitation of this festival is to compose a celebratory trans-local politics of going invisible, a postnationalist/posthuman aesthetic of meeting the world differently, a falling-apart-together, a coming alive in another way. We want to track new senses, share recipes of eating and being eaten, invite new smells and sights.
Here are some of the broader themes that will inform our co-exploration:
- A Pedagogy of the Cracks: Dr. Akomolafe has new things to say about cracks as sites of excess, as coagulative forces, and as instigators of exploratory experiments. Are cracks human things? In what sense do cracks birth postactivism?
- Postactivism: Is postactivism just another feel-good “bypass” of real and urgent accountability? How do we understand the invitation to “slow down” in a time when to accelerate presents simultaneous considerations? What might response-ability look like now, where hope is in short supply?
- Play: We are inviting children to join us: we will work with them and their invitations to play as geophilosophies of our times.
- Becoming-black: Becoming-black is not taking on black skin; it is the often pre-intentional/local flow of processes that enlists bodies of all kinds into the undoing of hegemonic stability. It is the choreography of matter in the unfurling of colonial coherence. Is there a different politics here – something to consider, to contest, to practice, to sit with?
- Trauma as Capture: How do our discourses on healing become forms of entrapment that reinforce colonial lines of sight? That reproduce Virtuvian bodies? What if justice gets in the way of transformation? What corporeal forms are reinforced with our commitments to healing?
- The Afrocene in the Anthropocene: The paraterranean is Dr. Akomolafe’s recent conceptualization of a different public arrangement that can inform accountability today. We will explore the contours of this seditious mythopoeic space and how it reconfigures responsibility, privilege, and movement.
- Asé as Embarkation: Dr. Akomolafe tells a story that names Simondonian pre-individual flows as the crossroads vocation of the trickster god, Èsù
- Making sanctuary is cultivating nourishment for the monster, the cracks.