There’s a lot to process these days. Too much to take in piecemeal. With art, what one loses in factual detail one gains in overarching sentiment. And this visual tour through Detroit’s abandoned Packard Automotive Plant, set to a poem by Pulitzer-winner Philip Levine, extends beyond its subject to tell us what, exactly, is going on.
Architect and writer Keller Easterling (Extrastatecraft, 2014) spoke in Toronto this week on Special Economic Zones, the politics of infrastructure, and how to meaningfully interact with systems. She warns of how such "nested forms of sovereignty" muddle regulatory jurisdictions, engendering an “Esperanto of quality management" that stifles discourse. She speaks of global cities, but we can infer parallels to the corporate world, the walled gardens of the internet, or any “platform” that captures our imagination. Easterling encourages us—as architects, designers, and citizens—to use narrative as a means of resisting not only the individual bits, but the dispositional forms of such technocratic frameworks.
Disney built a “city of the future, built to look like the past,” super-rich doomsday survivalists won’t settle for bunkers and beans, and the White House breakfast buffet is freshly stocked with an elegant assortment of Lay’s and Doritos. Know the home, know the soul.
In the stuck-in-time quasi-state of Transnistria, politics have given way to apathy and dimly-lit memories.
For The Towner, Gillian Terzis takes on San Francisco’s naive new utopianism in the shadow of the Salesforce tower. “There seems to be a view of progress that defines it not as an ideological ethos, but as logical and inevitable outcome of ‘disruption’ and market upheaval. An overarching fetish for newness induces a kind of cultural amnesia, framing historical and cultural memory as an encumbrance that must be overthrown.”
We should probably just institute a standing obituary section here to mark the ceaseless passing of the thinkers we need most. This week we remember sociologist Zygmont Bauman, who died earlier this month at a respectable 91. Bauman, as this Guardian obit outlines, escaped Poland to fight the Nazis on the side of the Russians, and then bore close witness to the multitude of totalitarian horrors and purges that followed in Europe through the remainder of the century. His work, in total, was a warning against the terrible tragedy, not consigned to the past, that can be wrought by a poisonous mix of populism and inequality. He did not live to witness the final weeks of January, 2017.
Medical professionals band together to build the tool our society needs most right now: the Goopshit detector.