The fried egg poppy. It is fun, beautiful, organic, and invasive as all politics should be. It’s the perfect metaphor for the sort of democracy-solution that can remake the city. This solution to the urban crisis that plagues every single city in the world in different ways is that citizens (whereas homo sacer or one without “papers” is a citizen by virtue of residing there) must imagine plan and fabricate the city, as opposed to mass culture and what passes for democracy. Some may call this democracy, I consider a turn from the incapacitated human being to renewal of meaning to collective life.
What we know is that we’re now mind and body plunged into the depths of a crisis announced countless times, that of a polity that has forgotten that the only sustainable polity is a cosmopolity, where the human being and human collectivity is more important than the market. Yes, human collectivity can lead to misery and genocide but let us not forget that it is in our power to intend and achieve productive human collectively grounded in love and beauty. Instead, mass culture has incapacated the human being plain and simply. It has done this through its appropriation of manufacturing, politics, cosmology, imagination, education and the list goes on. Each of what I have just listed (education, etc) has a particular battle in every single society in the world linked to capitalism and a state that reflects capitalism and oligarchy. In LA, from the UTLA school strikes to the Tejon Ranch battle, the culprit is the same and the facilitator adept at navigating the waters that it has itself damned.
The homo faber, or the fabricating human, once produced own technology: clothing, stories, and other objects for modes for traditional and even chosen modes of living. Economies as we know them today did not exist though the financialization of everything was coming because, in the end, since the Renaissance, the banks and bankers had begun to be all powerful. In other words, what precedes and quite frankly attempted to preclude us was better than we live today, despite myths of progression. This is because there is no such as thing as progression through simplification, consolidation, and commodification, instead of liberty, education, community, and translocal solidarity.
Even the factories no longer exist. What is being made by everyday people in cities? Very little. What is being made outside of capitalism by everyday people? Even less. Just look at rebellion in the city today, or at least signifying it. The commodification of dissent as contemporary rock and roll has always blown my mind. How else does one explain how it went from an existential answer to dread and despair to being part and parcel of the producer of dread and despair, neoliberal social order? It was once rational to dance and consume rock and roll yesterday, and the centrifugal force that is still persuaded audiences to dance and consume it. Produced in social isolation and then marketed to modern cities and suburbs as modernity, as identity, it continues to make sense as youth, beauty, and music, amidst massive social upheaval. It evens passes for objective youth in some parts of the country, whereas hip hop always passes for subjective expressionist youth. It exists without philosophy, apolitical, with spine or morality, the expression of eventual irrelevance and its importance to the market which is fine because all that is solid melts into air.
Social Isolation in the production of culture as we know it today is a byproduct of capitalism and the need to survive or prosper. It is a predatory practice, one wherein on protects one’s thoughts from others in order to sharpen them for further use. It certainly existed before the advent of capitalism but given the cephalopodic nature of neoliberal global capitalism, how else does one explain the thoughts one has when alone today? Social isolation is at the center of production today, as if the commons, common feeling, is inspirational and quite frankly too political.
What must be done? The human being must fabricate the world again and this must be principle and definition of both citizenship and democracy. More than making ceramic bowls and trinkets, streets and parks, economic systems must the product of demos that is socios, a lab that takes in a vast amount of information and through social interaction decides on a course of action that is true to a very ancient question “what do I make or my presence in this world”. The expression of this will be the music, objects, architecture, and is no longer a sidewalk to capitalism but the world itself that we live in, a world deeply engage in being, where our cosmology in no longer grounded in accumulation and its adulation but instead of meaning, infinity, and dwelling in that infinity with others.