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poem

Jonas Guigonnat Poetry Sybrand Veeger TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOCRATS - December 2018

What Would A Technecracy Look Like?

Written by Sybrand Veeger and Jonas Guigonnat

Sybrand:

There is something romantic about an etymological voyage,
Something utopically revealing –
The feeling is akin to tracing back your genealogical roots:
Familiarizing yourself with familiarity,
Fathoming alternative familiarities:
Unearthing roots
To imagine trees.

Let me share a genealogical log with you:

This time Heidegger was my guide,
That German Virgil of meaning –
We sailed down into the etymological piths of technology,
That timeliest of concepts.

Currently, he said while descending,
Techno means something radically different from its Greek root:
Techne signifies something other than
Instrumental manipulation,
The obsession with means,
The encasing and concealment of nature.

Techne, rather, is not opposed to nature –
The craftsman, artisan, manufacturer,
Akin to the poet and the painter,
Brings forth a creation,
And, like nature’s disclosure of light,
The technecrat reveals,
un-conceals.

From this root, I imagine a tree,
I utopize:
What would a technecracy look like?

Jonas:

What would it be?
A possibility
A rhetoric answer to the didactic –
What would hell look like?
A travel through the world of words,
Might not be worth the bet:

Forgotten corners
Of human abysses.

It is now my turn to share something with you:

This time is not different than any other,
Chaos shall be our only friend –
Time and words are no sea to be sailed on,
For near those places there are no grounds to be found.

Mistakingly, heading toward nowhere,
Techno means the same as any other word:
Techne suggests the dream of
Human’s manipulation,
The creation of means,
The enchaining and impairment of nature.

Techne, then, becoming an arm of nature –
The charlatan, conman, mindreader,
Attached to the same fear that drives the righteous one,
Brings forth an illusion,
And, similar to nature’s inexistent logic,
The technecrat steals,
Mis-reveals

From this abyss, I shall see no tree,
I temporize:
What could a technocracy look like?

Sybrand:

Surely, from the hellish wells of history,
From the depths of human chaos,
At least one meaningful bucket can be drawn,
To pour upon ourselves,
To awaken us from present drowsiness?
To quench our thirst for hope?

Techne – that hellenic understanding of technology,
Reinvigorates our relationship with Gaia:

Re-embedded in the natural,
Technological production
Mutates into technelogical creation:

Re-embedded in the natural,
Productivity re-evolves into an essential craftsmanship,

Re-embedded in the natural,
Power as coercion becomes
Power as potential:
Common statecraft replaces
Distant democratic delegation,

Desperately in need of reinterpretation,
Let’s unearth the roots of our technological foundation,
To give birth to an earthlier sense of future procreation.
Poetry Sybrand Veeger TRANSFORMATIVE TECHNOCRATS - December 2018

To Whistleblowing

Written by Sybrand Veeger

“Living comfortably yet unfreely –
That is something many are willing to accept.”

“Not me,” he says.

He spotted abuse and recognized its accumulation –
He could observe, from within,
The architecture,
Intricate and infinitely pervasive,
Of the Orwellian Leviathan:
Big brother’s eyes and ears multiplying,
And multiplying,
To see and hear all things communicated.
The most intimate of conversations – recorded,
A sensual exchange of images – surveilled and documented,
A google drive of private poetry – filed and stored.

The panopticon turned almighty,
Turned God?

“Don’t you realize you’ve helped create this monster?
Blow the whistle or I will end you!
You filthy animal!
I will eat through you like a worm and you will die a slow, painful death.”

His conscience made him an offer he couldn’t refuse…

The whistleblower, the bureaucrat,
The coggest cog in the omnipotent machine,
Turned martyr of some sorts,
Sacrificing his freedom for democracy? For the people?

I’m not sure.

His conscience simply played Don Corleone on him,
Threatened him with capital punishment.
Did he act out of heroism? Out of courage? Noble valiance?

Did he transcend his individuality to reach out for something greater?

I’m not sure.

One blows the whistle to self-preserve,
To survive;
Like a meerkat, in panic, calling out for the predators that nobody else can see.

The predators are dangerous, surely,
They’ll invade, sack, kill and eat up till stuffed.

What if the meerkat remained silent?
Wouldn’t conscience, then, become the most threatening,
The most dangerous of predators?

The whistleblower’s cry is the sound not of courage,
But of necessity:
Instinctiveness,
Biology.

I unsurely conclude:
Conscience defies the line drawn
Between nobility of heart and primitivity of gut;
Between what is deemed exclusive to a few higher spirits,
And what is common to all creatures,
Base or brave,
Courageous or cowardly.
Poetry Sybrand Veeger THE BODY AS A PRISON - November 2018

That Godly Chord That Strikes My Ear

Written by Sybrand Veeger

That godly chord that strikes my ear,
Pounds me down to beastly state:
A punch or blow that meets no fear,
That sends me through a holy gate.

My eyes drown, my hairs erect:
A scale of notes can madden – paralyze!
Yet, music-shock means to resurrect,
To lift off and hear God or Nature’s cries.

Happiness, joy, excitement: words insufficient
To describe the beautifully invasive mania.
Description: to do justice insufficient
To the perplexity of clarity: experienced contradiction.

A mental ascension? A bodily hijack?
Chopin’s ballade is psycho-physical kidnap:
Is it accurate to distinguish body and mind?!
Not when music strikes – when I yield to the sublime.

Contributor THE BODY AS A PRISON - November 2018

To Only Exist As A Mind

Written by Marten Bart Stork

Some say that the body is the temple of the holy spirit.

Others say it is a prison for the soul.

 

But however we may see it, we seem to be stuck with it. (At least for now)

 

Or is there somewhere else we can go?

 

What if we could leave our body before we die?

 

In the future we probably will be able to have a fully functional isolated brain.

Separate from our body.

(Free from physical pain?)

 

Or will consciousness be digitized?

 

Either way, it seems likely that we will at some point be able to leave our bodies behind.

(While we are still alive)

And exist only as a mind.

 

Try to imagine what that would be like.

 

To exist only as a mind.

 

Will it be like a dream?

An everlasting dream?

 

For time would no longer matter when we could (potentially) live forever.

 

Will technology enable us to transcend to beings of pure consciousness?

 

Could we create a complete universe inside our mind?

A perfect non-physical (virtual) reality for every one of us.

 

A place where we can do and create anything we can imagine?

 

Maybe god did not create the universe, but the universe is creating gods.

 

Gods that in their turn create new universes.

 

That in their turn create new gods.

 

Infinite realities.

Infinite possibilities.

FILTERED RECOLLECTIONS - October 2018 Max Muller

In Memoriam Ourselves

Written by Max Muller

You may think our disposition towards having a good reputation and being remembered fondly is the foundation upon which we base our actions. In this article, however, I will argue that this is not necessarily the case. I aim to show that it is not so much the idea of being remembered well that guides us through life, but that we are in actuality more concerned with being remembered. Period.

This can be inferred, in my opinion, by examining the lives and opinions of various historical figures and certain current cultural phenomena. I will try to unravel why being etched into our collective memory is so important to people.

A Lasting Legacy

First, let’s focus on the idea that everyone aims to leave behind a positive legacy. It can be illustrated well with the story of Alfred Nobel. As a precocious chemist and engineer, he invented dynamite in 1867. He patented his invention and made a fortune out of it.

When Alfred was 55 years old, his brother Ludvig Nobel passed away. Due to a misunderstanding, some writers for a French newspaper came to believe it was Alfred Nobel himself who had deceased. Thus they wrote an obituary of him, entitled “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” When he read it, he was appalled by the idea that he would be remembered as an opportunistic salesman of deadly weapons.

After he recovered from the shock of this discovery, he devised a plan to change his reputation. Alfred decided he would donate the majority of his wealth to the Nobel Prize (including, ironically, the peace prize). His legacy is nowadays largely viewed in positive light because of this generous decision.

A Higher Calling

Alfred Nobel was not alone in his aim to leave a positive legacy. Whole religions (with billions of followers) are centered around the idea of behaving well and reaping the benefits after death. In Christianity, for instance, sinners may redeem themselves to be allowed to go to heaven. Likewise, Hindus try to obtain good karma during their current lives in order to reincarnate as a better person in their next lives.

Thus, many people indeed wish to be remembered well, and will try to behave accordingly. They cherish the wish to have had a positive impact on the world. However, not everyone shares this kind of moral compass. Some are driven by other motives.

A Poète Maudit from Leeuwarden

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898 — 1936) was arguably one of the most important Dutch poets of the 20th century. In addition to his literary qualities, he was also a notoriously difficult person. Tragedies and quarrels marked his life. Additionally, he was a womanizer of both married and unmarried women, and was chronically sick.

Towards the end of his life, he wrote his famous poem “In Memoriam Mijzelf” (“in Memoriam Myself”). The last two stanzas are worth quoting at length.

IN MEMORIAM MIJZELF

Ik laat geen gaven na,

Verniel wat ik volbracht;

Ik vraag om geen gena,

Vloek voor- en nageslacht;

Zij liggen waar ik sta,

Lachend den dood verwacht.

Ik deins niet voor de grens,

Nam afscheid van geen mensch,

Toch heb ik nog een wensch,

Dat men mij na zal geven:

‘Het goede deed hij slecht,

Beleed het kwaad oprecht,

Hij stierf in het gevecht,

Hij leidde recht en slecht

Een onverdraagzaam leven.’
IN MEMORIAM MYSELF

I leave no last bequest,

Smash life’s work at a stroke;

No mercy I request,

Curse past and future folk;

Stand tall where they now rest,

And treat death as a joke.

I look fate in the eye,

Have said not one goodbye,

But want men when I die

To say just this of me:

‘He did good very ill,

Served bad with honest will,

Succumbed while battling still,

Undaunted, lived his fill,

Intolerant and free.’

Slauerhoff had come to the realization that he would probably be remembered as an insufferable person after death. What is interesting in this regard is that he did not seek forgiveness: “No mercy I request.” He did not strive to make one last attempt to redeem himself. He simply admitted he was essentially a villain throughout his life who “served bad with honest will.”

So in Slauerhoff we have found a person who wasn’t driven by the idea of leaving behind a positive legacy. And yet, the man was driven, and left behind a considerable body of literary work.

If he was not interested in leaving behind a good legacy, we could wonder what else drove him in life. In my estimation, the answer is embodied by the poem itself. Although he states that he leaves “no last bequest,” Slauerhoff is lying. The poem does not represent the idea of being remembered well, but of simply being remembered.

Slauerhoff aimed to solidify his legacy by means of his writings. In a sense, his malevolent ways endure through this poem.

Achieving Immortality

“Don’t forget me, I beg.” — Adele (Someone Like You, 2011)

We seek to extend ourselves to the future. As one of the few species that is aware of its own immortality, we aim to combat death by all means necessary. One of those means is having children. Our DNA is thereby passed on to the next generation, allowing us to, in a sense, continue to live on through a new body. Although we all die eventually, our genes are safeguarded this way.

However, the biological continuation of our being is not the only method through which we can “survive.” There are other ways to live on after we die. One of those is continuing on in the minds of others.

Ever since the invention of writing, human beings have had the unique capacity to precisely transmit vast amounts of complex information to future generations. Our values, fantasies, and even identities can be recorded efficiently for posteriority. Every writer seeks to endure through his or her literary creations. They extend and preserve a part of themselves through their writings.

Photo: Jonas Guigonnat

A Common Desire

It’s not just writers who seek to be remembered. The desire for endurance is arguably the most primal drive of all creative endeavors. Scientists hope their theories replace the old ones and that they are forever acknowledged for their discoveries. Rulers demand the erection of statues and other monuments as a solidified sign of their dominance. Graffiti artists leave their mark on walls to pay an enduring homage to themselves and their ideas.

The will to be remembered is not even restricted to those with creative or coercive powers. Everyone seeks to endure in the minds of others to a certain degree…most of us shiver at the prospect of being forgotten.

In Hannah Arendt’s treatment “On the Nature of Totalitarianism: An Essay in Understanding” she mentions that some tyrants acknowledged the terror of being discarded by history, and utilized it themselves. For instance, prisons under despotic rulers were often called places of oblivion and at times forbid the family and friends of a convict from even mentioning his or her name – to the extent that they could even be punished for breaking this rule.

Now that the possibility of materializing memories of oneself has become democratized, the fear of being forgotten has become more visible. Many immortalize even the most remotely interesting events of their lives with pictures on Instagram or bite-sized stories on Twitter. Furthermore, in the early 1990s, the memoirs written by “ordinary” people experienced an upsurge. Even more recently, people have started frantically tracing their heritage with DNA ancestry tests, such as 23andme. People wish to pass down their own heritage and legacy due to a fear of being forgotten amid a society filled with technological advances and increasingly rapid development. At the same time, these tools aid people in finding their place in a confusing, fast-changing world.

Thus it seems there is a one-to-one correspondence between our desire to be remembered, and the preservation and extension of ourselves in various forms. It is connected to the idea of making an impact on the world. We wish to to make a dent in the universe, a mark that will forever be connected to ourselves. It’s not just a dent, it’s our dent.