Ephemeralization, a term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller, is the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing”.
Some futurists think only theoretically and wax philosophically about the possibilities for humanity from the comfort of their libraries and leather chairs, rarely, if ever, testing their assumptions. Others only read the directions on the box, if that, and head out into unknown territories with little more than power tools and some rope to answer such questions as “Is ephemeralization possible?”and “If climate change causes global flooding, could me and 10 of my friends live on a boat?”
Hundreds of years of literature (Lord of the Flies, Robinson Crusoe ), movies and television (Survivor, Cast Away, The Book of Eli and obviously Waterworld) have traditionally concluded that, with limited resources, human nature eventually retrogresses into an Orwellian unfun form of protective tribalistic survivalism, not any kind of Utopia. But most futurist works do not take in to account the emergence and determination of modern survivalism-IS-fun types who take such conditions as a meta and physical challenge to investigate the possibility of non-violent ephemeralism (one exception being Huxley’s Island, a specifically written utopian counterweight to Brave New World, the pair of which I encourage every Burner and Ephemerialist and Futurist to read).
The term “futurist” is also misleading, as many current prognostications about the future involve a complete lack of computers and robots and are not unlike the happy, healthy, self-sufficient cultures of indigenous tribes and vikings of yore (only a light sprinkling of which still exist today). As many dystopian novelists and revolutionary, countercultural and experimental communities of the 1960s have asked: could we ever get back to a balanced, natural state if necessary, or have we gone too far?
Anchored just outside of Stockton, CA in the expansive and windy network of natural and unnatural waterways of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the most important question the floating festival Ephemerisle, now in its third year, wants to investigate — besides whether you would live or die — is this: Can being trapped on an island be FUN?
On June 9, 2011, False Profit sent a recon team to this local real world test of such theories and questions regarding emphemeralism in the particular context of seasteading. About 20 boats were tethered together to form an island, thereby forming a community of approximately 200 residents of various ilk. Community and connective platforms were built, and collective energies and resources were pooled. The result was 4 days of sunning, swimming, dancing, diving, teaching, sharing, and learning within an enthusiastic, ambitious and industrious community bent on creating their own world. As a contribution, we brought a boat full of speakers and DJs.
- “Missing the boat” isn’t an expression for no reason. However, if you do happen to miss the boat, do not give up. There are other ways to reach your destination. Having a stash of cash or other highly valuable tradeable goods helps. A lot. River people can be very helpful if properly persuaded.
- Driving a boat isn’t hard, but you do have to pay attention.
- Dropping anchor sounds easy — you just throw it overboard and your boat stops moving, right? WRONG. Due to collective ADD and inability to commit, we moved our boat approximately 7x, so we are experts on how hard it is to drop anchor.
- If you want freedom, do not tie yourself to anyone. Literally or figuratively. Otherwise you may end up listening to lectures when really you’d rather be having a danceparty in your underwear on the roof.
- High speed watercraft are highly enviable and worth procuring.
- Pirates are easy to distract. See item 1.
- Blasting other boats with a wall of sound is an effective method of takeover, so if you don’t have cannons, have subwoofers.
- Aquatic wildlife is way easier to catch and avoid than mainland predators (e.g. the prismatic leopard of the temperate rainforests of northwestern america). The only non-avian fauna spotted were river otters, and they’re just cute.
- Put sunscreen on your ass if you’re going to lie around naked.
- I’m On a Boat is not that hyperbolic. It really is like that. If you’re on a boat with us, anyway. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
Conclusions: Ephemeralization seems possible, but we will still need GPS to figure out where the hell we are unless we all learn how to read starmaps.
Recommendations: Invest. More boats + more people = more fun at Ephemerisle 2012.
Sidenotes: Growing up in the Great Lakes State on the shores of Lake Michigan surrounded by inland lakes, you would think I’d have spent a lot of time on boats as a child. But alas, no one I knew had a boat, or, at least, invited me to come on it. I recall being on boats only once or twice as a child. So I know nothing about boating. Particularly, I did not know that I would still feel the world rocking gently back and forth two days after disembarking, but perhaps that is specific to the workings of my inner ears and not a global experience. Secondly, I realize that this is not so much a summary of the experience as a literature review. But honestly: you don’t do a lot while on a boat. That’s the point. So other than the above there’s not a lot to report that would make any sense at all if you weren’t there. So if you really want to know what happened, join us next year on a motherfucking boat.Filed in friends, things you can do, travel | Tagged with dystopia, ephemerisle, false profit, orwell, utopia | Comment (0)
“In a time of universal deceit, to tell the truth is a revolutionary act.”
— George Orwell
(aside: my first brush with this quote was on the Antibalas t-shirt i got in NYC in 2001.)
re: the current wikileaks situation : everyone i know seems to be amused by the situation and rooting for the hacker, possibly because the theoretical repercussions are so frightening you can only laugh, combined with heated debates about free speech and serious conversations about what this reveals about global government security, accountability and transparency.
my childhood friend who works for the State Dept. shared this:
“There have been examples in history in which official conduct has been made public in the name of exposing wrongdoings or misdeeds. This is not one of those cases. In contrast, what is being put on display in this cache of documents is the fact that American diplomats are doing the work we expect them to do. They are helping identify and prevent conflicts before they start. They are working hard every day to solve serious practical problems – to secure dangerous materials, to fight international crime, to assist human rights defenders, to restore our alliances, to ensure global economic stability. This is the role that America plays in the world. This is the role our diplomats play in serving America. And it should make every one of us proud.
The work of our diplomats doesn’t just benefit Americans, but also billions of others around the globe. In addition to endangering particular individuals, disclosures like these tear at the fabric of the proper function of responsible government.
People of good faith understand the need for sensitive diplomatic communications, both to protect the national interest and the global common interest. Every country, including the United States, must be able to have candid conversations about the people and nations with whom they deal. And every country, including the United States, must be able to have honest, private dialogue with other countries about issues of common concern. I know that diplomats around the world share this view – but this is not unique to diplomacy. In almost every profession – whether it’s law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business – people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it. And so despite some of the rhetoric we’ve heard these past few days, confidential communications do not run counter to the public interest. They are fundamental to our ability to serve the public interest.”
that Orwell quote has been a favorite moral rudder of mine for years, and i also agree (gasp) with Ron Paul’s tweet today that “In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble.” but while i wholeheartedly support the maximum amount of government accountability and transparency as is possible without compromising security, i have to say i agree with HRC and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, who said that an “open and transparent government is something that the President believes is truly important. But the stealing of classified information and its dissemination is a crime“.
despite the fact that Wikileaks has done admirable, award-winning work for human rights in the past, if i had to vote one way or another right now today i’d say the “free speech” argument doesn’t apply here, that Assange should be prosecuted, despite the fact that people say if the State Dept./Dept. of Defense had better security this wouldn’t have happened, therefore it’s their fault, not his (common hacker defense).
However, even though i believe he should be prosecuted, i still deeply respect him for what he has done.Filed in politics and news, QOTD | Tagged with orwell, wikileaks | Comment (1)
First, they took on the political establishment in Congress. Now, tea partiers have trained their sights on a new and insidious target: local planning and zoning commissions, which activists believe are carrying out a global conspiracy to trample American liberties and force citizens into Orwellian “human habitation zones.”
At the root of this plot is the admittedly sinister-sounding Agenda 21, an 18-year-old UN plan to encourage countries to consider the environmental impacts of human development. Tea partiers see Agenda 21 behind everything from a septic tank inspection law in Florida to a plan in Maine to reduce traffic on Route 1. The issue even flared up briefly during the midterms, when Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes accused his Democratic opponent of using a bike-sharing program to convert Denver into a “United Nations Community.”
In the tea partiers’ dystopian vision, the increased density favored by planners to allow for better mass transit become compulsory “human habitation zones.” They warn of Americans being forcibly moved from their suburban dream homes into urban “hobbit homes” and required to give up their cars and instead—gasp!—take the bus to work.
now, this is from Mother Jones, so yes, a huge helping of salt and hyperbole with that, so what’s interesting to me about this (particularly since i just watched The Book of Eli) is not so much the “tea partiers are total nutjobs” aspect but that as an extreme minority, this point of view provides a definitive shadow of overlap with extremely left wing conspiracy theorists who have been suspicious of all forms of government planned anything. it’s possible the extreme right and left have each gone so far around they are now meeting face to face (is that part of the 2012 prophecy?), which is either hilarious or terrifying, depending on how you look at it. in fact it reminds me of Marin County NIMBY planning conflicts, where the conservative ultra left fight over things like whether or not Habitat for Humanity should be allowed to build homes n their communities.
or maybe this is nothing new…politics as usual…yawn…trumped up for ratings/publicity, and in that case, isn’t Mother Jones just as guilty of misinformation and rabble rousing as the Tea Partiers are for spreading this around?Filed in culture and random linkage, politics and news | Tagged with dystopia, NaBloPoMo, nimby, orwell | Comment (0)
are we in a military state where violence is used to control the masses and media, or one where everyone is so distracted by their wealth, their abundance, that the criminals operate without resistance? (social control through indulgence – give them everything, get them hooked on what they have, and they’ll let you do whatever so they can keep it….) i think it depends on what country you live in. Iran? Orwellian. the US? Huxlian. the result: fear and violence vs apathy and disintegration. for the future of the human race: both are bad news.
+ a whole lot of well presented points on this here.
h.t. to ill gates for this link.
“Liberties are not given, they are taken.”- Aldous HuxleyFiled in culture and random linkage | Tagged with dystopia, orwell | Comment (0)
the other day a friend of mine sent out an email to a grouplist giving everyone the link to deleting their friendster profile because it’s “useless”. i wondered why no one was sending out a link to their facebook profile because it’s “orwellian”:
When one of America’s largest electronic surveillance systems was launched in Palo Alto a year ago, it sparked an immediate national uproar. The new system tracked roughly 9 million Americans, broadcasting their photographs and personal information on the Internet; 700,000 web-savvy young people organized online protests in just days. Time declared it “Gen Y’s first official revolution,” while a Nation blogger lauded students for taking privacy activism to “a mass scale.” Yet today, the activism has waned, and the surveillance continues largely unabated.
Generation Y’s “revolution” failed partly because young people were getting what they signed up for. All the protesters were members of Facebook, a popular social networking site, which had designed a sweeping “news feed” program to disseminate personal information that users post on their web profiles. Suddenly everything people posted, from photos to their relationship status, was sent to hundreds of other users in a feed of time-stamped updates. People complained that the new system violated their privacy. Facebook argued that it was merely distributing information users had already revealed. The battle–and Facebook’s growing market dominance in the past year–show how social networking sites are rupturing the traditional conception of privacy and priming a new generation for complacency in a surveillance society. Users can complain, but the information keeps flowing.
Facebook users did not recognize how vulnerable their information was within the site’s architecture. The initial protests drew an impressive 8 percent of users, but they quickly subsided after Facebook provided more privacy options. Today the feed is the site’s nerve center. Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said that when he speaks on campuses these days, students approach him to say that while they initially “hated” the feed, now they “can’t live without it.”
i’m always on the edge of deleting my facebook profile because a) their widgets drive INSANE and b) their privacy TOU is horrible, except almost every other day someone from my past emerges and connects with me via the network. damn facebook’s functionality!!Filed in blogging | Tagged with facebook, orwell | Comment (0)
The Enlightenment Visa Reward Card was founded on the idea that money is energy and if used with positive and integrative intention, can have the power to affect change in our lives and the world.
the site goes on to talk about all the wonderfully enlightened things you can do with the points you earn while contributing to america’s debt crisis, and fails to mention that Visa, the company who profits most from your activity, is evil, just like all credit card companies who are funded by large banks and reap the benefits of careless compulsive spending by consumers and take advantage of those with financial problems or weaknesses (like college students). that phrase “supports my conscious lifestyle” is totally misleading – sure, it supports the cardholder by providing funds for all the over-priced products and services (have you BEEN in a Whole Foods?) needed to create a “conscious lifestyle”, but how in the world could any credit card actually support a GLOBALLY “conscious lifestyle”? it simply can’t. credit cards and sustainability don’t mix. Visa earning hundreds of dollars a year in interest and transaction fees (every time you use your card, Visa collects money from the merchant) because of your activity is not “putting your money where your heart is”.
i mean…ack. just like with all the current greenwashing going on in ads (like THIS toxic crap being marketed as “natural”), corporate use of popular spiritual and social values to market products that are only pretending to be aligned with those values in order to make money off of that demographic makes me totally ill. i mean, i know that’s what marketing *IS*, but it seems to be getting more and more Orwellian as the days go by.
~ via social-creature, who also notes an interesting concept in robotics psychology that plays into marketing (and, i would argue, perception of art): the more something approaches who we really are, the less appealing it becomes (e.g., the reason that Visa ad is so repulsive is because it’s so fucking spot on in terms of our actual culture) until it fully assimilates and becomes unrecognizable as an ad, such as the guerilla marketing done by some agencies wherein you don’t even realize you’re being marketed to, and then it becomes favorable and we like it.
humans are weird. as smart as we are, we are also totally dumb and utterly impressionable. our cultural evolution has included the nurturing of this tendency to accept things which are naturally illogical because they are presented to us by what have been established as ruling forces/sources of life, even if they’re totally negative. it’s as though we’ve lost any innate ability we might have had to use logic to foresee negative consequences, and now even the smartest of us still mostly just listen/respond to what we’ve been taught. sure, the marketers have to get more and more creative to keep us fooled, and i’m sure it took a lot of work on the part of whoever created that ad above to find a way to market credit cards to the so-called “enlightened” consumer American. or, maybe not.Filed in culture and random linkage, environment | Tagged with dystopia, greenwashing, orwell | Comment (1)
johnny h’s comment on my freedom post about Thoreau’s essays being more and more relevant as our political world gets more and more complicated reminded me of another great quote. i noted back in ’02 that i have a t-shirt from one of my favorite socially-conscious bands, Antibalas, with this quote on the back:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” –George Orwell (more great quotes by Orwell)
the truth is, of course, relative, and many like Clarke are telling their version of the story. it’s not objective – can any such testimony be? – it’s one man’s experience. but for him, he’s telling HIS truth, and as i commented, i didn’t post the link here because i think he’s telling unbiased truths and i support his statements 100%. it’s his personal experience that he’s reporting, and i think america should listen and then make their own conclusions.
sidethought: for us Gen Xers, our minds are only just coming around to the helix of political scandals. those older and wiser of course have seen this over and over, since television was invented especially: Vietnam, Watergate, Iran, Russia, Cuba – who’s keeping what a secret, what the White House is and isn’t telling you… it’s neverending. And I know a great many people who have more life-experience in these sorts of matters are sitting back and reading blogs like mine and other young lefties thinking we’re just a bunch of naive daydreamers who don’t understand how the real world works and that we should just shut up already and stop talking about things we don’t know enough about to argue over.
i’ve been told more than once in the past few years since i’ve been online that i don’t know what the hell i’m talking about, that i’m “oblivious” or “blinded” by my own personal agenda and that i’m not in any position to be making opinionated statements on matters such as international warfare. to that, i say, my experience arguing with people on and offline about political matters has been incredibly educational and i can’t think of a better way to learn about such things than to make incredibly uninformed opinionated statements and have others controvert them. and so i must continue.Filed in politics and news | Tagged with orwell | Comment (1)
the Antibalas and Transmission show last night at the Fillmore was phenomenal. of course, jay and shannon and i got our kicks before the show even STARTED just knowing transmission was opening up. the fillmore was pretty empty at 8:00 when tmission started playing, but with a good number of the “hardcore” tmission fans there and ready and excited. and, being the sweet guys that they are, they walked out and said “this one’s for jay and amy” and went right into Hoover Dam, one of our favorite tunes of theirs. they even wrote a setlist for the show (which i guess they only do for really *special* occasions… haha) because they only had about 45 minutes to play. that of course left out most of the improv, which is what they do best, but they still sounded great. so if you’re reading this boys, GREAT JOB!! we’re so proud
on to antibalas. outside of the fact that the whole 12 member band is really TIGHT and they’ve really come together as a group in the past year, i have to add that Antibalas’ message is SO IMPORTANT!!!! my antibalas t-shirt that i got last spring in NYC (may 2001) has this quote on the back:
“In a time of universal deceit, to tell the truth is a revolutionary act.” — george orwell.
of course, after 9/11, this is even more true than it was when i bought the shirt. Antibalas (literally: anti- bullets) has a combined message of both the fact that so much important information is being silenced in the world by those in power, that we are often all political prisoners because of the media and our governments, along with the message that in order to respond to that oppression, we need to speak out, but with dignity, humanity, and global non-violence, not with war. every single one of their songs urges community and respect. it’s so good to have bands out there who aren’t afraid to stand up and actually SAY what they are fighting for instead of so many bands who just allude to their “good works” but never really take a stand in public. i did notice a lot of silence on the part of the crowd when the band introduced songs and talked about things like blood, bodies, war, killing, global corruption and crime. the silence of the crowd, to me, just reiterated the message: that we all, for whatever reason, feel we should be silent and not speak out against what is happening. i wished more people at the show would have made some noise and showed their support instead of standing there silently.
it’s so amazing to me that the music, even without words, is so calming. the smooth, fluid afro-cuban rhythms are so inspiring in themselves and move the body in such a healing way (much like indian music is for me); towards the end of the night when i was getting tired, i was just smiling about the fact that i could just stand there and the music just FLOWED over me in such a beautiful, full, warm way, that even though it’s hard to understand their spoken words sometimes it doesnt matter because you felt what they were trying to say…. it just makes my heart glow.Filed in music | Tagged with antibalas, orwell | Comment (0)