Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ruben Mendoza's response

Well, when I was growing up in the 1980s, I remember trying to imagine what my life would be like as an adult living beyond that magical Year 2000. I would calculate how old I’d be when 2000 came (which for me was twenty-eight). I’d kind of roll the numbers around in my head, trying to attach them to some kind of sense of how I would experience the world in, say, 2010, or, 2015. I’d be like, Okay, so in 2032, I’ll be sixty years old…what will that mean, you know?

But it was less important to me who I would be in 2032, than what kind of technology would shape my life at that point, and how it would shape my life. Everything I pictured was through an imagination fed by stacks of science fiction books and hours of sci-fi movies like the Star Wars series, Star Trek, and Blade Runner.

But now that I’ve passed that 2000 mark, and I’m coming up on the end of the first decade of this new century, what really strikes me the most about it all is not all the fancy technology and stuff, but how much mundane experience of everyday life has in some ways remained remarkably similar over time, even while it’s taken on this kind of strange layer or veneer of hyperreality that kind of flattens everything and turns everything into a kind of media, like the world has become a two-dimensional television screen, and our experience of it is like a series of shows and commercials. Even just trying to describe it, I have to use the simile of media, you know? We think that “Reality TV” shows are something that we watch on screens, but I think that Reality TV is actually what we’re living, every day, every moment. It’s all around us. This big “reality” show is what we now understand as our lives.

But what I think is most important about this whole thing is that this “show” that we’re living is made up of all the same shit I remember in the 80s, when Reagan first took over—poverty, exploitation, violence, war, this sense of dread and fear. Only, it’s worse now, it’s all multiplied exponentially now, and all those spaces I remember where you could retreat to, secret spaces in the urban fabric where you could play, or hide, or just sort of create or imagine a different reality, seem to be disappearing as space is shaped and regulated more and more completely.

So…Trying to imagine what a moment of revolution would look like in 2019, I think that involves understanding that 2019 will not look very different from 2009, or 1979, or 1989. The weapons will be more efficient, the spaces we function in will be more regulated and pre-structured, but the poverty, the desperation, the continuing accumulation of wealth upward into the hands of the rich, the violence, and the feelings of hopelessness, that all come from capitalism—all of this will still define everyday life experience for the majority of people in the world for a long time to come.

But at the same time, what will also still be the same is the way that people continue to find and develop and use tactics of resistance to oppressive systems. And those tactics, even if they change to address specific technologies or situations, are really, at the core, always based on the same principles of human connection and love.

So, I think that really, a moment of revolution in 2019, then, looks a lot like a moment of revolution in 2009, or 1969, or 1789, or 2129. In any year, I picture two or more people getting together and working to imagine and create a space in which they can relate to each other, and love each other, and transform and communicate, in ways that do not serve oppressive systems of control, that are not domineering, and that are therefore antithetical to those oppressive systems. That, to me—that kind of micro-political focus on interpersonal relationships—is where the potential for radical, total freedom is, in any year or any moment. In fact, to me, what makes it truly radical is that it doesn’t matter what year we’re talking about—the struggle to transcend oppressive ways of inter-relating and to really love each other is really, I think, the eternal struggle of this human existence, and it takes place every moment that passes. It happens perpetually, right here, and right now, at this intersection of time, space, and body.

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