Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Hope Beats Fear 3 -2- 1 - (a piece written and performed at Edgelands Flash Conference, Forest Fringe, Edinburgh on Sunday 21st of August 2011)

I was invited to be one of the Provocateurs at Forest Fringe’s Edgelands event - a flash conference - designed to allow people to engage in the flesh and on the Internet. The organisers Hannah Nicklin and Andy Field wanted to open up a space for everyone in the arts to be able to come together and reflect upon where we are in the world and how we are engaging with it. There were 4 starting points explored during the day:

What is digital innovation in the arts and why is it important?

Artists. Audiences. How can we do this better?

Why have we failed to convince people the arts are important? Are the arts still important?

And finally, the question I was asked to engage with - How can we stop making Capitalism?

Which is quite a question to find yourself facing.
Below is the text of what I came up with. If you’re interested in finding out more about all the provocations / conversations that came out of this quite wonderful and extraordinary day you can go to Flash Conference or search #Edgelands on twitter.

Hope Beats Fear 3 -2- 1
How Can We Stop Making Capitalism?
I have 5 ideas to share with you but admittedly only one sentence of certainty. To keep your attention, I have saved it till last:

Thing 1: If we slow down we may stop killing time.
Lets stop rushing. As the urge to ‘do something’ about capitalism tightens in our gut, lets not have a rapid, robust response. Instead, as often as we can, lets slow down. Because to know what to do, first we must know where we are. When we move so fast isn’t movement all we know? If we slow won’t we begin to know and be known? I think. What do I think? I think this may be the first step to creating a life that is not acquired, consumed or styled but present, authentic and inhabited. That feels like a foundation to build from.

Thing 2: Birds and Electricity cables.
Why don’t birds die when they sit on electricity wires? It turns out it’s because while charged, they are not earthed. They touch but they do not make a circuit. They are one with electricity but they survive because they are not it’s conduit. Or the little ones aren’t. Big birds fry all the time. It’s a dangerous game. But still, it’s possible. And so, could it not also be true for us? Can we be in this world and of it, but find ways to stop making circuits with capitalism?

Thing 3: To help us work that out, lets ask ourselves ‘What would Harry Potter do?’
Because, Harry and chums know a dark time when they see it and they don’t worry about depressing their friends at parties. Hermione would not be frightened to say the word ‘capitalism’ in a social situation? No way! Those Hogwarts’ kids not only name their foe they fight it. And they never give up. And neither do we!
Only… Actually.

Thing 4: Sometimes we give up.
Because we all know we are at an apex where neo-capitalist fiscal insanity, zealous religiosity of all flavours, growing populations, peeking oil, disappearing water, bio genocides and climate change are building a holistic-hell-fire-gauntlet that we will all at some point have to face. We all know this. We know it even if we are in denial. And it makes it hard not to give up and give in to linguistic footsy instead of real conversation, nihilism instead of love and self for selfism instead of all for one and one for all...
Even so. Despite this…

Thing 5. Today we are here, together…
Via flesh or the interweb. Today we did not give up. We came. Today we are not killing time or making work we don’t believe in. Today we are not worrying if you know, that I know, that you know, that I’m a player too? Instead, we’re doing the unspeakable thing of slowly considering the word capitalism in public.
We’re not saying I am too tired. We are not saying ‘I just want a fucking laugh. Or actually? No… A fuck… Ok a fuck and a laugh’. Because everything else seems so pointless and fast and over there. Everything, always over there. And if we had more time?.. Because isn’t over there always better? Hurry up. Lets do this, then…
That isn’t us today. Today we are breathing in and out and time is with us. And because of this we may find it in our head and hearts to speak and feel a truth instead of our fear. And we may notice that in this space, time morphs and an hour becomes a minute and a minute an hour, ebbing and flowing to buoy us, not reprimand us. And flowing in this time, the things we do may become energised and real. We may find a new kindred spirit or make plans with an old friend. We may. We may have a conversation that comes from love. We may change a mind or have ours changed for us. We may find people and inspirations which lead us to make something new and true, and through this we may find a strength to face the fear. And perhaps that will be the time when our work stops making the circuit with capitalism?
Because I think, what do I think? I think the power for good in fearless work is exponential. I think a thing done with love and truth and fearlessly (even if we are scared) shines 3-2-1 brighter than all other known brands. And in this way we may make hope. Which feels important, since the only thing I am certain of is this. There is no hope in capitalism.