Occulto Fest 2012: Text
[Here below some notes and ideas regarding the talks. To apply with your own project click here]
Let it be a giant asteroid hitting the earth, the ultimate economical crisis, the third world war, the return of the big reptiles due to the Earth overheating, or a bunch of helicopters dropping napalm accompanied by Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries: Apocalypse is indeed not just a specialty number of religious fanatism and more or less articulated esoteric discourse. One or more of its possibile declinations – the end of the human species, the end of the Planet Earth, the end of a small or a big part of the universe as we know it – happen to be options considered and studied by people like astronomers, economists, biologists, historians, visual artists and fiction writers, to name a few.
Occulto Fest would like some of this people to come and tell us about these considerations and studies: where they come from, where they are possibly going, how they are connected to the past or present history and to other fields of study.
“The time is coming”, writes and rewrites John in his Apocalypse, also know as The Book of Revelation. The Greek word „ἀποκάλυψις“ (apokalypsis)means infact “lifting of the veil” or “revelation”, the disclosure of something which is hidden or misconcepted by most of mankind. Revelation: again a word often connected with the belief in a fatal destiny, in one ultimate (revealed) Truth, and yet again a word that can be given a quite different inflection. Revelations can be many, and they can be the results of research, hypothesis, facts and data which can be shared and intepreted. In this sense the search for „revelations“ might be an elightening way to approach reality.
If we look at contemporary history, the Arab Spring movement has exemplified in an astonishing way the possibility of quick and radical change, as if all the past years spent “exporting democracy” had been just a Role Playing Game - a very expensive one. In the meantime financial markets have showed its highly sick and irrational face, and people have started wondering who the real enemy is.
If we look at economics, Capitalism has always acted as if its institutions - public debt, taxes, free market…- had been there since the beginning of History, suggesting the risk of Apocalypse – general collapse, irreversible regression of the civilisation - in case a disruption of the system occured. On the other hand David Graeber writes that “It does seem strange that capitalism feels the constant need to imagine, or to actually manufacture, the means of its own imminent extinction. It’s in dramatic contrast to the behaviour of the leaders of socialist regimes, from Cuba to Albania, who, when they came to power, immediately began acting as if their system would be around forever […] Presented with the prospect of its own eternity, capitalism - or anyway, financial capitalism - simply explodes. Because if there’s no end to it, there’s absolutely no reason not to generate credit - that is, future money, infinitely”.
If we look at science, as Professor Enrico Bellone pointed out in his interview with Occulto Magazine, Albert Einstein said that Time doesn’t exist, and one of the main challenges of contemporary physics is indeed to demonstrate it, to rewrite physics excluding the notion of time. Meanwhile the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, called LHC and located at CERN in Geneva, is being used to answer some fundamental open questions in physics, involving other big challenges: how the universe was born, what dark matter is, if a unique theory intersecting quantum physics and general relativity is possible. Yet the LHC is not a giant crystal ball and the professionals working at it are no oracles: the experiments might end up giving unexpected answers to questions that nobody posed.
It’s quite clear though that the average ability of imagining the future has decreased over time. Simon Reynold repeats redundantly in Retromania how weak current social, artistic and cultural movements appear nowadays in comparison with the past. Sci-fi literature from the 50s and the 60s imagined hundreds of alternative future worlds and societies, invented from scratch hardly believable achievements of technology, eventually convincing quite a lot of enthusiastic teenage readers to take up scientific studies and make some of those dreams - and nightmares - come true. In 1969, year of the Moon landing, people really dreamt of a new society that would eventually live in the outer space: only in such years Sun Ra Arkestra and their magnificent Space is the place could have existed. The fear of nuclear doom, Cold War paranoia and the related concept of Enemy – possibly a disguised one - produced during the 80s several masterpieces in film, music, literature and the visual arts – the obscenely trembling Michael Ironside’s face in Cronenberg’s Scanners might work here as a good exemplification.
We are now more and more assisting to the past haunting the future as far as the production of culture is concerned – sometimes in a productive way, sometimes not – with the invasion of collections, the obsessive and systematic use of repertoire materials, down to recent music hypes such as „hauntology“, that clearly got inspired by the past in a mutant, unpredictable way.
Simon Reynold says that the future is not coming yet. What if he’s wrong? Or what if to pose such a question is in itself fallacious or even irrelevant? In the meantime scientists get proton beams to collide almost at the speed of light trying to recreate conditions similar to the Big Bang, some folk might be considering to rise up asking for social radical changes and practicing direct democracy, and the whole Europe looks at Italian spread in fear, mostly without being sure of what it precisely means. Probably because it is actually meaningless. We might as well put ourselves at work.
The universe will never be extinguished because just when the darkness seems to have smothered all, to be truly transcendent, the new seeds of light are reborn in the very depths. That is the Way.
Philip K. Dick, „The Man in The High Castle“
(in case you want to trust a talented writer who confined himself to bed being terrified by the outer world after a life of mental disorder and drug abuse. We do think he put on paper some extremely brilliant stuff.)