TURBULENT TIMES— Covid-19, Crisis, Reboot?

Katsushika Hokusai, Woodblock Print, Showa period

The unpredictable forces unleashed by the current Covid-19 pandemic have revealed the vulnerability of an entire global system. Covid has lifted the veil of what was long concealed behind projections of never-ending progress and capital growth: We have shifted far from equilibrium, demanding vast amounts of energy simply to maintain fragile stability. The current crisis is a consequence of the long latent fragility within our system. We have driven our global order from international connection to international interdependence. At the same time, we have removed natural and human-made buffers from ecological, geopolitical, and financial structures in order to run on a more efficient short-term schedule. We have violently pushed our ever-expanding cities and industrial complexes into the vulnerable landscapes for (supposedly) more and faster profit. The forceful forward and upward motion of Homo Economicus has left a turbulent slipstream behind.

A growing list of issues is cropping up daily during this crisis. The virus neither respects regulations nor territories demarcating anthropic organization. It crosses thresholds and bodies with increasing speed, shattering the assumed human unity under the umbrella of capitalism. It tears open unhealed wounds. Our emotional experience of the world and its rational explanation are in bizarre misalignment. We witness a deep chasm between models of analysis and personal reality. Data models express very little about the individual experience of this pandemic. Everyone has a different local story to tell. The thought of being replaced by an abstract number in the system overlooked and forgotten causes shivers of discomfort to run down our spine. Philosopher Alfred N. Whitehead describes this division as the „bifurcation of nature“ — the bifurcation between our experience of life on one side and our understanding of nature through the lens of mechanistic positivism on the other side. This crisis plunges us deep into a state of affective and cognitive instability, a disturbance of the established static order of the ego and its environment, of figure versus ground. We are forced to face how we are embedded in a larger context, dependent on minute changes in our environment, a fate intimately shared with every other organism in our ecosystem.

Yet unstable ground leads to heightened awareness. This global moment of precarity provides a chance to feel deeply, to experience the world from the inside, to encounter the beautifully entangled nature of our reality, to appreciate the fine balance of ecological assemblages, and to acknowledge our individual responsibility. We ourselves are a large polyphonic assemblage of organisms, ​The number of genes in the microbiome in one person’s body is 200 times the number of genes in the human genome.​ 8% of our DNA
itself is of viral origin. Our planet is a fascinating game of complexity — a large plane of immanent energy and complex relationships that our brains and bodies are embedded in: a beautifully diverse world in motionful resonance with itself. We live in a world of life that constructs itself.
Many secrets of this world lie in the motion of life rather than in the inertia of things. When the elements of life are withdrawn, its “propositions die like fruit removed from the tree of life.” (Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Ages of the World) Instead of deifying prevailing market forces and data pools, which leave us with nothing to live for than personal desires, we should aim to transform ourselves and the prevailing thoughts of our time to overcome stultifying reductionism of nature, body, and mind, instead of cutting the world up into isolated static objects that neither live nor change, we should focus on the limitless potential and power of life by asking what it CAN do and what our bodies and minds CAN do — Indeed, what it means to be alive on this planet now as human beings. Everyone’s engagement has an effect on this reactive field, our world — everyone’s engagement matters. Like a pilot who learns through intensive experience and becomes one with his plane in the action of flight, we have to find ways to acknowledge our oneness with the environment, to move forward, to reboot
the system.

Because your health is my health.

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Viktoria Luisa Barbo

Viktoria Luisa Barbo

Designer/ Creative /Thinker. Interested in the cultural and spatial effects of perception and ecology. https://www.resonantmatter.space/