Change your life
Today the alert is circulating that after the pandemic nothing will be the same as before, that we will have to change our lives. You must change your life is a verse by Rilke that Peter Sloterdijk used as the title of one of his books. According to him, you must change your life is an imperative of moral elevation that has crossed the history of the West as a whole, from Socrates to Foucault, through stoicism and Christianity. But after Nietzsche, and the death of God announced by him, any ascencional yearning could no longer be sustained by an ideal of transcendence. The author of Zarathustra persisted in the quest for self-overcoming, but driven by something other than a superior «attractor». This is where Sloterdijk’s philosophical imagination comes in, not unrelated to today: only a Catastrophe, among others, of the climate, in its sublime dimension (inapprehensible and unrepresentable), would be able to give men an ethical imperative equal to its incommensurability. After all, «my life» is linked to the lives of all beings on Earth, human and non-human, including the bats and pangolins sold in Wuhan – hence the proposal for a «co-immunism» and a «co-immunity». The resonance with «communism» and «community» is obvious, but it’s not certain that it’s justified. For it is unlikely that Rilke's verse will be used today in the sense that the poet, or the philosopher, gave it. On the contrary, the formula will certainly be used to promulgate economic recovery under even more draconian demands, largely preserving, in a worsened version, the prevalent form of life before the pandemic.
It’s the danger that Alain Brossat and Alain Naze called Restoration. The history of revolutions shows that their exhaustion is generally followed not by a return to the previous status quo, but there’s a doubly aggressive and regressive advance. Restoration today would mean the resumption of the train of progress at twice the speed, in order to compensate for this «accidental» interruption, but always in line with the axiom of productivity and profit, in favor of corporations and the financial system, in an even more brutal attack against the labor rights, social protection, preservation of the environment, etc. It’s the equivalent, at least in our case, to the deepening of what Vladimir Safatle called «disaffection», the predominant affect in a fascist context.
In Tolstoy’s War and Peace, there are two contrasting characters in the midst of the Napoleonic army’s invasion of Moscow and the catastrophe it represents. The first of them is Governor Rostopchine. He does everything with great excitement, and makes the most extravagant and contradictory decisions in the midst of chaos: «sometimes he distributed weapons to the drunken people that were of no use, organizing street processions, and at other times he prohibited the metropolitan bishop Augustin from doing so... he both declared that he would set fire to Moscow as well that he had set his own house on fire, while in a proclamation to the French, he solemnly censored them for looting the children's asylum he founded».
The second character is the commander of the Russian army, Kutuzov. As Stéphane Hervé and Luca Salza mention: «Kutuzov is presented as the precise opposite of Rostoptchine. If the governor preaches action, Kutuzov is distinguished by inaction. Rospotchine is alive, energetic, whereas Kutuzov falls asleep during war councils, walks with an uncertain step, has no control over a horse, sees almost nothing with his one eye. He’s always distracted, tired. An inactive field marshal is, let us admit it, an unusual figure. Tolstoy seems to take particular pleasure in describing this old man. Through him, he wants us above all to reflect on the attitudes to take in the face the event. When a great event occurs, when history materializes, when we see it pass before us, to use the words of a famous German [Hegel seeing Napoleon pass by], what can we do? In this case, it’s about knowing who, between Rostoptchine and Kutuzov, grabs the event. The narrator asks the question and gives the answer. Count Rostoptchine’s activism is not up to the task: the count thinks of himself as a man who can act in history, can intervene in history, as someone who can do, while the abandonment, the desertion, the non-doing that Kutuzov ‘personifies’, in this precise case, according to the narrator, is the only possible answer to History. ‘Patience and time’: it’s by replying in these ‘inoperative’ terms to the question of ‘what to do’ that Kutuzov develops a winning strategy against Napoleon.»
Strange theory about inoperability. At first glance, it seems to be of the order of mere passivity, or giving up. Blanchot was the one who taught us to see «passivity» as something totally different – a different attention to Disaster. We know that the interruption, the stoppage, the suspension, the brake on the train of progress is, for many, the condition of possibility for a real displacement, in face of the blind trampling of what Jünger had already called «infinite mobilization». This is true for a war, an earthquake, an atomic accident, why wouldn't it be for a pandemic?
Svetlana Aleksiévitch describes thus, the world of Chernobyl: «What had really happened? There were no words for new feelings, and there were no feelings for new words, people did not dare to express themselves yet, but little by little a new way of thinking emerged from the atmosphere; that’s how we can define our current state. The facts were no longer enough, it was necessary to look beyond the facts, to penetrate the meaning of what happened.» Hence our current babbling, despite the unprecedented proliferation of accurate words and pertinent analysis. It is an «atmosphere» that still remains «ungraspable».
The author confesses that the measure of horror in the former Soviet Union was always the wars, but one has to distinguish between war and catastrophe. In Chernobyl, the presence of soldiers, the evacuation, the destruction of the course of life made it difficult to understand that «we are facing a new history: the history of catastrophes has begun». Cows retreated from the water, cats stopped eating dead mice. «Man was not prepared, as a biological species because all of his natural instruments, the senses created to see, hear and touch, didn’t work... The senses were no longer useful for anything; the eyes, ears and fingers were no longer useful, they were of no use, because radiation is unseen, it has no odor or sound. It’s incorporeal. We spent our lives fighting and preparing for war, we knew it so well, and suddenly, that! The enemy's image was transformed... We entered an opaque world, where evil does not explain itself, does not reveal itself and knows no laws.»
Taking into account the proper proportions and unique contexts, we cannot fail to see though, the similarities and parallels. As the authors of the commentary on Tolstoy say: «The current epidemic teaches us irreversibly this: we live in catastrophe. The catastrophe is not tomorrow, as our leaders tell us in order to demand from us what they call ‘adaptations’ (to earn less, to work more) or to blame us for our habits. We’re here already. This time, it is a virus that reveals the disaster. In reality, it is a whole social, political, economic, moral system, which is in deep crisis, that ‘suffocates’ us.»
In a context of full acceleration, the halt is tantamount to a catastrophe far greater than the epidemic and its heap of dead people. It’s not by chance that any interruption in production is experienced as a disaster since the only universal evaluation criterion, supposedly objective and measurable, is the relationship between time and profit. But what if a turnaround in that equation was still possible? What if it was only after a sudden stop that we would able to glance into the range of possibilities still available to us, or imagine other ways out that were so far, unthinkable?
We know how removed we are, with that question, from the political board on which we move. Let’s look at this statement by Stéphane Hervé and Luca Salza, which will certainly raise the most varied accusations, from defeatism to escapism. «We are not fighting for a counter-power, but to affirm the void of power. Like Kutuzov, we step back. We are backing down because capitalism will continue to advance and distance markets (distance learning, distance medicine, distance consulting,... distance learning) are opening up due to this epidemic. We don't take refuge in huts in the forest, like hermits or utopians. We disappear from the game but we are here, ready to do nothing. Retreat is part of the war, as we learned from another great defector, the general Spartacus. It was because he did not cease to retreat, in his inoperative wandering, wanting nothing but demanding everything, that the power of the Roman oligarchy faltered, and it is because he was convinced by his comrades to engage in frontal struggle that he was overcome, as Plutarch teaches us. Inaction is dangerous, as it is not private and makes us feel the infinite pulse of the world. It is in inaction that the multitude of forms of existence is perceived, that other worlds are invented».
Such vital room for maneuver does not appear to be desired or tolerated by current chronopolitics. This is what André Lepecki points out in a recent article, by establishing a difference between interruption, on the one hand, and withdrawal on the other. Interruption imposed from above is what occurred with the pandemic in most countries. Another thing would have been, if it had happened, the withdrawal, «driven by the desire to act in mutual support and a slowdown in the public rhythm of everyday life in order to express the fundamental and absolute respect for the life of the other.» Unfortunately, it wasn’t such an ethical tenet that came to pass, neither here nor elsewhere.
According to Lepecki, the kinetic political unconscious imposes a social choreography on the population in general. Any suspension or stop or pause makes capitalism freak out. But, as he notes, capital compensates for physical paralysis with digital hyperactivity, and in favor of productive mental acceleration. That is, everything stopped, but nothing stopped. Not only did nothing stop, but, in a sense, everything accelerated. Neoliberal kinetics, adds Lepecki, no longer imposes movement from outside or from above, but colonizes it from within, commanding it according to its own purposes. They are, as the author says, «total extractive activities on individual movement experiences. There is no limit to this colonization and monetization of the neoliberal individual’s kinetics.»
If the tyranny of speed has shaped politics as an activity, nothing prevents the political from being redefined from another dimension of movement: the pause. As the author puts it: «The task now is to find another physics for movement; to find, in the pause, the sources for an unconditioned and immanent collective movement. A movement in which stillness is simultaneously refusal, potentiality and action. Another choreopolitics, anti-choreopolicing, where the choice between moving and not moving becomes secondary, tertiary, irrelevant. A movement that knows from the inside that, in the non-universal non-law of the microphysics of the ‘little dance’ [referencing Steve Paxton’s contact improvisation], movement merges with immanence as the total intensity of contactual sociability. A slow movement that moves fugitiveness and amplifies contactual social mobilization.»
For that, however, it is necessary to be able to breathe. And that is less and less guaranteed. In Brutalismo (Brutalism),Achille Mbembe describes the reconfiguration of the human species, that took place, among others, by changes in the biosphere and the techno-sphere. Ultimately, says the author, the project of «brutalism» consists of transforming humans into matter and energy available for extraction, as happened with the discovery of shale gas in the United States: drilling, cracking, extraction. As if we were re-actualizing what characterized a period of colonization, to «recreate the living from the not livable». The current not livable, however, has new characteristics: toxic, neuronal, molecular, given the state of «combustion of the world» that we have reached.
It’s worth to recall Sloterdijk’s indications on the same issue, in the third volume of Spheres. «The twentieth century dawned in spectacularly revealing fashion on April 22 1915, with the first large-scale use of chlorine gas as a warfare agent by a specially established ‘gas regiment’ in the western German armies against French and Canadian infantry positions in the northern Ypres Salient. In the preceding weeks, German soldiers on that part of the front had, unnoticed by the enemy, assembled thousands of hidden gas bottles into batteries of a previously unknown kind along the edges of their trenches. At exactly 6pm, pioneers of the new regiment under the command of Colonel Max Peterson opened 1,600 large (90 lb) and 4,130 smaller (45 lb) bottles of chlorine while a north-northeasterly wind was blowing. This "blowing off" of the liquefied substance caused the spread of some 150 cans of chlorine in a gas cloud almost four miles wide and roughly half a mile deep. An aerial photograph captured the spread of the first military poison cloud over the Ypres front. The favorable wind carried the cloud towards the French positions at a speed of between six and ten feet per second; the concentration of the aerial poison was around 0.5%, which caused severe damage to the airways and lungs upon extended exposure.»
The author thus distinguishes between this logic of extermination and all previous techniques. It is about making the enemy’s survival impossible «by submerging him for long enough in an environment without living conditions». The goal is to attack vital functions, especially breathing, central nervous regulation, temperature conditions or radiation that are unsustainable for the human body. It is about changing the enemy's environmental conditions of life. It is a war of «atmospheres» (atmoterrorism), in which one dies solely by «the breathing action» – which led some to make the enemy responsible for their death, since the one who activates breath is the victim herself (!) Breathing people become involuntary accomplices of their own extinction – as if, in the end, they committed an attack on themselves by breathing, which would exempt the executioners, including those of the concentration camp, of any responsibility.
Hence a whole military climatology, a science on toxic clouds, and by extension, scientific studies on the use of toxic gases in the extermination of mice in public buildings, in the elimination of insects and mites in schools, barracks, ships, etc. In 1924, Zyklon B was released and widely marketed, given its advantages in closed spaces, its lethality, its odorless character, in short, its anti-parasitic efficacy. How not to see that the extension of these techniques in the context of National Socialism resulted in the elimination of those who began to be considered insects to be decimated, or parasites of the German people, or natural carriers of epidemics? The path to the gas chambers was open.
The artificial creation of «microclimates», the large-scale experimentation of «negative air conditioning», became a veritable industry of death. Until then, Sloterdijk recalls, being-in-the-world was being-in-the-open, or more precisely, being-in-the-middle-of-the-breathable – a whole «aerology» that came about, sometimes of a poetic or philosophical nature. For the author, this only foreshadowed the «atmoterrorism» to come and the historical caesura present therein. Henceforth, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the question could be translated as follows: what are the conditions for the breathability of air? American military research focused, in the 1990s, on «climate domination» as a condition for future military superiority. The control of the battlefield would be due to the production of meteorological conditions – ionospheric weapons. In any case, as the author says, air has lost its innocence.
In a speech made in 1936 around the work of Broch, foreseeing what was to come, Elias Canetti writes: «The greatest of all the dangers that arose in the history of mankind, however, chose our age as its victim. It is the helplessness of breathing. It is difficult to make it too big a concept. The human being is as open to nothing as to air. It still moves in him like Adam in paradise. Air is the last communal property. It belongs to everyone at the same time. It is not distributed with advantages, even the poorest can take a breath... And this remaining good, which was common to us all, will poison us all together. Hermann Broch’s work situates itself between war and war, between gas war and gas war. It could happen that some toxic particles from the last war can still be sensed somewhere. But surely, he, who knows how to breathe better than us, is already choking on the gas that, who knows when, will take our breath away.»
Of course, we not only breathe air, let alone clean air, but also the toxic gas that we exhale, in communications, in politics, in hate. Generalized asphyxiation has the mark of a crepuscule. Karl Kraus, in the same period, said: «Everywhere, manure gases (estiercol) penetrate the brain of the world, culture can no longer breathe».
This is what happens to us today, when we breathe the poison that we spread, or that which comes from political groups, media militias, more or less hidden economic powers, in addition to the actual viral contagion.
We can finally ask ourselves the question directly. The catastrophe we face today, what does it consist of? Is it the pandemic, with its dead piled up? Is it the confinement, surveillance and monitoring measures taken by some governments, with their likely effects on our ways of life? Is it the neglect, assumed as an official policy in Brazil, with its consequences? Is it the government itself that took possession among us? Is it the technocapitalist system and monoculture that invade protected ecosystems, multiplying the risks of zoonosis? Or even, going back a bit, is the Anthropocene itself already the Catastrophe? Or Colonization? Or the West as such? Or, at the other end of time, the inevitable outcome of the climate disaster?
It is very likely that we are at the simultaneous point of convergence of these various images of the Catastrophe, hence our immense distress. The most visible, exceptional and spectacular, extremely recent, sanitary image – the pandemic. The most naturalized and commonplace, which arrives from far away – the well-oiled world machine spinning at least since the industrial revolution. But there is also the risk that out of this crossed context, of exceptionality and normality, the opportunities for deviation will escape from our hands: «Catastrophe – to have missed the opportunity», wrote Benjamin. In other words, the most disastrous thing would be for us not to take advantage of the loopholes that we see. We’re so confined in presentism, that we can barely imagine how to counter it. Because it’s not enough to want to go forward instead of backwards. A present is always composed of crossed procedural lines, not only singular temporalities, but also discordant directions, and therefore, possible detours. Instead of insisting on putting the multiple modes of existence that populate Brazil in a single evolutionary and cumulative line, and fall into the false dilemmas that oppose modernity and archaism, we must sustain such a temporal rhizome, despite the hegemonic discourse. It’s the anthropologists who show it best. They help us to think bifurcating, boiling, thresholds that are not dependent on a supposed timeline.
As for a catastrophic event, psychoanalysts like to compare the terror that a feared, always threatening future catastrophe to come, causes and the relief that comes from seeing that it has already happened. Unfortunately, that is not given to us. Probably due to what Benjamin intuited: «It [the catastrophe] is not an ever-present possibility but what in each case is given.» It’s probably the most difficult thing to see, what is under our nose, or under our feet, or ongoing in our most alive/dead present.
Nietzsche considered nihilism «the most sinister of guests». It was not a catastrophe striking us from the outside, and in the distant future, but part of the most intimate history of the West, and since its origin. It’s what a thought of the Catastrophe could not fail to note – it’s not only our future but the content of our own present, and which reaches us from afar. In other words, the Catastrophe is not only the sudden Hecatombe, natural or historical, but everyday banality (Arendt). The same reasoning would apply to our national fascism. Catastrophic is not only the election, but the everyday banality of a colonial and slavish nature that far preceded it and that remains intact.
«That things are ‘status-quo’ is the catastrophe,» recalls Benjamin.
And, what about it? Again, will we leave empty-handed, carrying our agony in our hearts, our mask on our faces, our sanitation alcohol in our hands, our nightmares in our sleep? What is the use now of any philosophical proposition however lucid and subtle it may seem? To map our misery, in denunciation and whining? Or to finally prophesy the imminent end of capitalism? Perhaps we are condemned to move between the two extremes, on the scale of the affective tonalities that the present offers us. The Catalan psychiatrist Tosquelles noticed that in psychotic crises, the feeling of an imminent end of the world, where nothing seemed possible, was followed by a turnaround in which suddenly everything seemed possible – a radiant dawn. Our present state is not very different, we oscillate between the feeling of a terminal collapse and a glimpse of euphoria. From nothing is possible to everything is possible and vice versa. The feeling of the end of the world, on the one hand, and that of the end of a world, on the other, with a possible flash of an other world.
In the midst of all this, here is the question that keeps coming back: how much damage will the different measures taken during the pandemic have on individual and collective affectivity? On loving or solidary ties? On the relationship with death and grief? What effects will they have on the vital role attributed to women, given the undoubtedly greater burden that falls on them in domestic confinement, from the care of children, the preparation of food, cleaning tasks, not to mention occasional distance work, when that is possible? Didn't the naturalization of this «function» prove aberrant? Shouldn't a care that consists of creating and maintaining life itself belong to everyone? And what consequences on student life, whose disappearance Agamben did not hesitate to declare, categorically, given the growing and rampant predominance of distance learning? And what effects will it bear on forms of cultural transmission, ethical training, socialization, given the predominance of algorithms and teledistance in practically all spheres of human activity? In short, what will remain of the multiple modes of existence, which even before the pandemic barely managed to survive, given the predominance of a hegemonic and already separated life-to-market?
But at the other end, the question arises: how much damage will the measures not taken during the pandemic have on us? For if in some countries, all sorts of regulation, control, monitoring, digital, police and military surveillance were used, in what by some was considered to be a kind of general rehearsal of the new forms of exercise of power or exacerbation of the state of exception to come, on a planetary scale, in a society of control elevated to the umpteenth power, the reverse is also true: there, where the deregulation of conduct, the systematic opposition of federal institutions to all types of care, individual or social, the alleged preservation of the freedom to come and go, to work, to conglomerate, to wear or not to wear a mask, all of which, under the alibi of preserving freedom, is not only the most cynical lack of responsibility of public authorities in relation to the health of what is still called «population», but simultaneously a deadly intoxication that bears upon the most elementary social affect.
So, what kind of mobilization would be appropriate in the face of such a catastrophic context? Or, on the contrary, what kind of demobilization, desertion, abandonment, immobility, human strike, combined with a reinvention of sociability, would be adequate before the imperative of generalized remobilization that reaches us from everywhere?
A little bit of possible
We referred, with Sloterdijk, to the ascending verticality that characterizes the history of Western anthropotechnics – the «hominization» technologies applied by humans to themselves. We see this with the various exercises that since the Greeks at least, allowed an individual or minority to withdraw or retreat, in any case to execute a departure from worldly life or the spirit of the flock in favor of a philosophical, spiritual contemplative elevation – of the order of detachment among the Stoics, of the religious spirit in Christianity, humanist in the Renaissance, later revolutionary, or, closer to us, artistic. But the generalization of such ascending acrobatics ended up, in our context, in its opposite. A competitive entrepreneurship has ceased to characterize beings of exception (the exercisers of yore) to become the imperative of an era: planetary athletics. It's a situation that reminds me of Alice in Wonderland: you have to run to stay in the same place, and run more and more to achieve it. With the particularity that, following Lewis Carrol, the supposed elevation, is, in the end, a descent, a demotion. In fact, the higher you think you are going (for example, towards progress, or in a «social ladder»), the lower you are descending: opportunism, imposture, cheating, dullness, social fragmentation, sensory shielding. High and low, therefore, get mixed up, reaching what Nietzsche feared most – platitude, undifferentiation: when «nothing has value», then «everything is the same», and «nothing is worth it», and «anything goes»: Nihilism. Or postmodernity? Or ultraneoliberalism? Or algorithmic capitalism? Or just another episode of a long historical-philosophical, or political-metaphysical, arc of detachment from the Earth? In this case – is this an ironic avatar of transcendence? – there’s the virtual detachment of a world plutocracy, which leaves most of the population in the dark and in the social swamp, as Mbembe says. It’s planet Exit as defined by Latour, which has in the figure of the multi-billionaire Elon Musk, who finances the colonization of space but also, apparently, the coup in Bolivia, its greatest symbol.
Besides so many worrisome but necessary diagnoses, it would be worth thinking as well from the gaps, where the fractures appear, where the boat creaks, as Kafka would say: «We live not in a ruined but a bewildered world. Everything creaks and rattles like the rigging of an unseaworthy sailing ship.» As Deleuze and Guattari remind us, it is sometimes from fissures, even molecular ones, that a molar ensemble collapses. Potency of the micro, of the small, of the deviation (clinamen).
The fact is that many types of deviation and desertion call upon us today. Spontaneous (as in the recent protests against the asphyxiation of George Floyd) or organized (self-organization in the favelas, settlements, occupations, groups that work in food distribution networks for people living on the street, for example), of collective flight (villages that take refuge in the forest, far from any possibility of contagion) or isolated attacks (Glenn Greenwald and his bomb on the Lava Jato, Krenak and his words that were never before heard as much and finally finding interlocutors), or zones of temporary autonomy (Notre -Dame-des-Landes was a territory destined to become an airport, and it was occupied by many people with alternative methods of life and production) – not to mention experiments on a different scale, such as the zapatistas (how much we have to learn from them, men and women alike!): the defection of capitalism, the demonetization of existence, the desacralization of work or productivity, the non-private ownership of land, the avoidance of armed confrontation coupled with military deterrence in the defense of an immense «liberated» territory, the refusal to «take power», non-personalist sub-leadership, democracy as infinite conversation, performatic imagination in connection with Mexican population or with planetary networks, the coexistence of communities with their various temporal layers - in short, a political, social, subjective, ecological, communicational, historical grammar that is totally original.
Some differences notwithstanding, Guattari also tries to say this through his triple, social, mental, environmental ecology. In my view, it has not lost any of its actuality. «An immense reconstruction of the social gears is necessary to deal with the wreckage of Integrated World Capitalism. However, this reconstruction involves less top-level reforms, laws, decrees, bureaucratic programs, than the promotion of innovative practices, the dissemination of alternative experiences centered on respect for singularity and the permanent work of the production of subjectivity». This eco-friendly turn invites the creation of the most dissensual existential territories. To conceptualize such practices, the author of The Molecular Revolution used or invented expressions that were not very common: group eros, machinic animism, autopoietic focuses, incorporeal universes, chaosmic scales, pathic apprehension, logic of non-discursive intensities, procedural escape lines – and claimed «an unconscious turned towards the future whose screen would be none other than the possible itself, the possible as hypersensitive to language, but also the possible hypersensitive to touch, hypersensitive to the socius, hypersensitive to the cosmos...» It’s a whole landscape of thought that unfolds in this way, in favor of a deterritorialized unconscious, a constructivist ontology, through an intensive and affirmative cartography, always pointing to the proliferation of differences – heterogenesis. This unusual terminology may seem difficult to digest. However, our context is so unusual that we should not be afraid of concepts that are also unusual, as long as they can face one of the most urgent challenges: conjuring up «the entropic growth of dominant subjectivity» – the mental, subjective, axiological monoculture.
All of this goes far beyond what was left to the Left as a task – how conservative and timid it looks in the face of fascism: to defend the institutionalism of such a formal «democracy», or to mitigate the effects of creative-destructive capitalism. It's too little – too little. Against the chaos produced by the extreme right, we become the party of order and progress! We need more, much more! And something else!!! More tactical invention, more effective insubordination, more devices able to manufacture other values, more body-to-body, more artistic, communal, ethical war machines, more boldness in thought, more philosophical, political, erotic irreverence, more feet-on-the-ground, more feet-on-the-street, more feet-in-the-stars, more free association, more assumed dissociation, less normopathy and servility and cowardice, another softness (Guattari), another sensibility, another affectivity, another welcoming of traumas and collapses, more common spaces, more sexual, racial, generational hybridization, other forms of care for the elderly, children, crazy people, animals, plants, stones, mountains, waters, the entire earth’s crust, the skin of the Earth. And also, more belief in the power of things and the living, libido and speech, lightness and rapture. How can we not see that this list is infinite, and that it is able, with favorable alliances, to inflect social affectivity, redistribute the cards, perhaps turn the game around, perhaps even helping to turn the table? We need a new board where another game can manage differently the available living forces. For in the war between forms of life that is now spelled out like never before, amid the cult of brute force, virile impetus and the toxic resentment that fascism spreads, what they try to kidnap from us daily is the source of the possible – «the eternal return to the nascent state» (Guattari).
Against the transcendental jaw that devours everything (capital, said Mbembe), a potency asks for passage, just as in the midst of catastrophe and suffocation, a black man’s whisper affects the world by simply saying, and with that making himself the spokesman of an era: «I can’t breathe». Is this not one of the figures of the catastrophe – and of its contrary – that someone is deprived of its vital breath, and at the limit of his existence, provokes a tornado of planetary dimensions? We speak of George Floyd, but the same is true for João Pedro or Ágatha Felix and thousands of others who did not even have had the time to say, while playing or sleeping, that they were losing their breath.
Against the dreadful disaffection, widespread defection! To desert the wars that are not ours, to chew our coca in the slow climbs, and like the Aymará rebel who sits in the middle of the way, to wait for our soul to arrive.
We thank the publisher N-1 the permission for publishing this text.
Such a text would be unthinkable without all those who preceded it in this «critical pandemic» series. To its authors and authors and authories, my thanks.
Affectionate review by Mariana Lacerda