Touching the Earth
The 21st century is likely to be the most eventful century in human history. This coming decade will set many of its long-term trends and determine whether we thrive as a planet or collapse into ruin. Either way, a new world is about to be born.
That new world can't come too soon for the current one doesn't work for most people and the situation is even worse for all the non-human beings caught within its web. In short, we have less than a decade to create a new civilization. Which means everything has to change: business, relationships, tastes, beliefs. Everything.
Many people are overwhelmed by dramatic transformation. I embrace change even as I suffer from it like everyone else. That's the reason for Twentitude.
Perhaps the single biggest transformation is the fundamental relationship between humans and the non-human world. I hate to say the term 'nature' since that has the connotation of a uniform substance, when in reality the nonhuman is infinitely more diverse than the human.
We have much to unlearn, to replace our anthropocentric language of 'history' and 'society' with terms that include the many beings that aren't human. Arguably, the first unlearning step is sensory, of toppling vision from its perch at the top of the hierarchy of knowledge. Consider how we talk about things we see versus things we hear or smell.
I say 'the sound of the drum' with the tacit understanding that
- there's an object and
- there's the way it sounds to me
- the two are different.
But we don't treat vision that way; the 'seen' drum is the drum itself, not the way the 'drum looks like to me.' As visual creatures we easily fall into the trap that vision reveals objects as they are - fixes them in our gaze, making them available for classification and control - while the other senses play supporting roles in this visual drama. After vision comes hearing, which has less prestige than vision but still plays a major role because of its close association with language and music.
With this issue, I am going to inaugurate an exploration of the 'minor' senses: smell, touch and taste, senses that are opaque to conceptual elaboration for now.
There will continue to be a regular dose of random things that catch my fancy.
A Receptive Mind
The decisions we make during the 2020s will impact us for centuries and arguably determine whether we survive as a species. Thoughtful and creative decisions won't happen on their own; we need to train ourselves to hear the muse's whispers. Twentitude is a receptive state of mind which helps us hear the future.