“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Enervation and Ecological Awareness: Cultures of Energy

Joseph Campana, Rice

“The Age of the Enervation? Energy, the Arts, and the Future of Affect,” paper given at the Cultures of Energy 2nd Annual Spring Research Symposium, April 19–21, 2013

enervation instead of energy
Renaissance as discovery and wonder
Showalter, “Our Age of Anxiety” book about depression review
information overload and cellurization of labor (Berardi)
increase in mental pathologies: attention deficit, panic, suicide
hybrid melodrama NBC Revolution: permanent blackout seizes Earth, turns off and never turns back on
falling airplane
>> medieval life: feudal powerbroking, sword fights
question the show raises is not what would you do? 
glut of post apocalyptic sci fi
but rather: if the lights go down what will you feel
terror, shock, uncertainty...but for Revolution panic gives way to anger and longing for revenge
“When the world lost power, I found mine”
>> alternative form of energy, affect heightened by righteousness
emergence of militias; families united; people rise up to conquer
blackout not << consumption but energy zapping military nanotech
righteousness, devotion to family, power to overcome evil
not sociopolitical nor technological
problem is about how representations of future energy landscape depend on violently oscillating affective patterns
>> continuous growth of affective intensity
one minute the world thrums, then it collapses
then cycles back as people power
might there be something wrong with this range of affect
fantasy of easy conversion of energy systems to people power
Heinberg, The End of Growth. Panic in these works
Stoekl: happiness is not << meager conservation. Stuck in a homeostatic loop of sustainability or stuck in cycles of feast and fast. Unable to avoid apocalypse of violent doom. 
regimes of energy (Berardi). Exhaustion always anathema to modernity. Limits denied and forgotten. Entropy despised. 
Consequences of overpopulation and overconsumption
flattened body of socius giving way to revolutionary zeal
exhaustion has no place in western culture; as a new paradigm for social life
>> new perception of wealth and happiness
states of affect <> late capitalism
states of affect that are in and out of sync with the current moment
it is an age of enervation
Mecocosm (Zurkow)
flattened styles
skeptical take on endless loop
could revive affect studies
as a consequence of performance of dance
Morgan Thorson’s Heaven. An exhausted heaven. At Diverseworks
accompanied by music by Low
a kind of flattened affect about the performers
walking in a square for fifteen minutes
signatures of damage and repair in clothes
tenuous relations between life and death
soundscape produced by miked up fan
seeming unison but not quite
odd rituals of greeting; dead or alive, life or afterlife
organ, electric guitar in corner
series of hymns provided by Low
“listen to the still small voice” (Kings): lord is not in earthquake or fire 
lower sustainable degrees of affect
inventing gestures, movements, gaits appropriate to an enervated landscape
artists help us imagine the consequences of energy practices <> enervation
vs slip into language of crisis 
fantasies of scarcity or endless growth or approaching doom
contemplative choreography
you start to feel quite a lot in response to it
heaven that is not heaven: not a bliss alternative to hellfire
alternative to being frozen in panic
Barthes: linguistic state of “the neutral” “that which outplays the paradigm”
“suspension of narcissism, no longer being afraid of images”
not fatigue

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