Categories
Talk Slow

”Focusing on the here and now – as in a therapeutic or meditative situation – may be the most vital part of the concept of slow life.” – An interview with artist Gideon Horváth

Many scientists agree that the pandemic gives a new opportunity for humankind to lead a slower and more sustainable lifestyle. Do you agree? 

 It makes sense these days to think about what might work differently in the novel state after the crisis – if we can talk about sharp boundaries at all. In spite of this, I don’t think it is worth speculating about what returning to the future will be like in a present so hard to liveFocusing on the here and now – as in a therapeutic or meditative situation – may be the most vital part of the concept of slow life. In order to return to an eventually accelerating social life one day and avoid immediately reviving our old habits, we need to start to make changes now both individually and in small communities. Of course, we should not confuse this with this years quarantine productivity pressure concerning so many of us, which can also be traced back to the production pressure of the capitalist system. The point seems to be to pay attention to ourselves, attempt to silence our environment (if possible), and think over what difference it makes to live our lives in isolation. This isolated state may confront us with questions and emotions we  could not deal with in depth before because the noise was too much. In my opinion, self-reflection should precede all thoughts on how we can build more sustainable systems together that enhance stability and openness instead of promoting production and growth. 

Obligatory isolation has changed the way we communicate. This process may have advantages in the long run, however, it may also lead to the development of bad practices. In one of Asimov’s novels the inhabitants of a planet only communicate with each other through teleconferences (referred to as viewing in the book), since they find the idea of face-to-face interaction unbearable due to viruses and bacteria (among others). Communication is only one example of major change – in general, shall we hope for a better or worse future?  

From a certain aspect, it is a misconception that our everyday lives have changed radically. It is true though that numerous new rules and official regulations have become part of our lives, together with a continuous sense of fear. Apart from this, I have noticed that everyone, including myself and my environment, faces the same phenomena and tasks as before, but on more extreme levels. I have disabled all mobile notifications on my smartphone, and I am trying to create an environment as relaxing as possible and exclude the chaos prevalent online. What matters the most is that we should not let the online world take control of our livesbut it should always be our individual decision as to whether we are ready to spend time on social media and news sites. I don’t think that we would like to communicate through viewing after the pandemic. The need for human interaction has truly increased during these past months dominated by all the regulations and isolation. If all is clear, we wont be able to get enough of each other’s company. That might have been the case with Asimov, too. 

Exhibitors of Slow Life  Radical Practices of the Everyday examine both social and economic reasons of the climate and ecological crisis and their possible solutions from different viewpoints. Why did you choose this subject matter for your artwork? 

Anna Zilahi and I turned to new realism and ecological theories simultaneously during our year at the University of Fine Arts – among the old institutional frames of the university these concepts seemed so novel. When we realised this and found out how incomplete this discourse in the Budapest art scene was, we founded an artist group called xtro realm, which Rita Süveges also joined a bit later on. From the very start, our main aim has been to share transdisciplinary knowledge. Anthropocene used to be a vague term three years ago that many people used as a broad and obscure signifier without knowing what it meant. The climate crisis has gained wide publicity since then, and the project we have been building since 2017 has started to attract a much wider audience, which is great. My work exhibited at the Slow Life show dates back to the period when I started to get acquainted with the closely related new realist and ecological theories. I was interested in hyperobjects – a term coined by Timothy Morton – that stand for spatially and temporally dispersed entities that we cannot comprehend as a whole, we can only accommodate one detail at a time. Examples include global warming, the biosphere, or the stock market as a whole. I created a photo series using an infrared filter that gives insight into a radiation spectrum invisible to the human eye. We see an all-encompassing layer of reality that is a basic part of how the world works, yet we can only experience its effects. Healthy flora reflects this radiation during photosynthesis, which results in images where the vegetation appears brighter and comes to the fore. And since I used a long shutter speed, it does so in another temporal dimension. This technology is frequently used for military or agricultural purposes as well. 

How does the current situation explain and situate (or perhaps annul) your selected work for the exhibition? Is there a new project you are working on now? 

My photo series is related to the current situation on numerous levels however, this is true of any artwork focusing on ecological issues. I mainly read these days, and although I do have plans for new projects, at this point it is quite hard to imagine the ways in which presenting these works would make sense later on. Art certainly has a particularly important role in interpreting the crisis. I am quite pessimistic about how this critical situation will affect cultural life though, already in the short term. During the past few years, the art scene has been shrinking, and the opportunities and perspectives of young artists are constantly decreasing. It is quite certain for example that many will leave their artistic careers as a result of the crisiswho could have created and exhibited important bodies of work in a more livable system. 

Is there any topic/problem/phenomenon that you encountered during the quarantine and would like to work on in the future? 

I do not think I would address any particular topic related to the pandemic directly, rather loosely related ones. I have also realised that staying in quarantine and slowing down has a beneficial effect on my relationship with specialised literature. Earlier, the jobs I took in addition to artistic activity didn’t leave much time for reading, but now I’ve lost most of them. And now I’m a little puzzled by how ideal the current situation is for in-depth research and artwork – I have never had such suitable conditions in my life. Deep down, there is a shameful feeling lurking inside me: in some ways, I do not wish this period to end too fast, since I don’t know whether I will experience a similar one later on. I am afraid of how it’ll feel like to get back on track, and I keep warning myself to use this period wisely and make the most of it. 

 

Categories
Talk Slow

” The meaning of the slowness would be sparing time for activities, which connect us and provoke transformation.” -Interview with Poet Anna Zilahi

Many scientists think that the virus is a chance for the creation of a slower, more sustainable way of life. Do you agree with his statement? 

The coronavirus pulls the veil off of the present world order’s weaknesses; the spreading onto the humans can be traced back to our unblessed relationship with nature, to the destruction, on what the comfort of the western middleclass was built. A question that many are interested in is if we can return to the earlier normality, when it should be considered maybe, if we want to return to such normality at all, where the science has been warning us for years about the jeopardy of a global pandemic, urges us to take immediate steps, and then it has to look on, how it’s nightmare becomes reality. Or: do we have to return to a kind of normality, from where arriving for many people the acceptable political crisis reaction is the opinion that in favour of the protection of the economic growth a few lives need to be sacrificed. In this context the slow life means that hundreds of thousands have become unemployed over the course of some weeks, their existence is in danger, while the life of others developed to be from morning to night lasting coping. For instance, the everydays haven’t slowed even a bit down for parents, for the healthcare workers, for the shop loaders, for the teachers or for delivery men and if the new requirement would be the necessity of continuous content consumption. (How many self-help podcast did you listen to today during cooking? What novelties had you learned in the previous weeks? What had you been streaming in the past two hours? How do you live through the time that you received as a gift?) 

The slower and sustainable way of living (this last adjective probably doesn’t worth to be compared) can arrive, when it can be provided equally for everyone, not as a privilege, but as a fundamental right. If we spend the gifted time with facing the social inequality and if we think about the mental mechanisms that were engraved in us by the capitalist desires that keep us in eternal operation. The slowness doesn’t need to equal with us doing nothing, but in spite of that keeping ticking. The meaning of the slowness would be sparing time for activities, which connect us and provoke transformation. This can happen in community, but the virus isolates. The question is that on what conclusion the new normality will build on: on the experience of mutual assistance and interdependence, or on the fear of unknown and individual losses. 

The forced isolation changed our communicational habits. In the long run it can have positive results, but it can lead to the emergence of bad practices. For example, in one of the novels of Asimov a planet’s inhabitants contact each other only by “seeing”, the thought of the personal meetings is unbearable for them, among others because of viruses and bacteria. Communication is only an instance for the great transformation; in general, should we hope for a better or a worse future? 

Exactly before the epidemic would have started, I was thinking of bringing my barely used ancient tablet to my grandparents, launching a Wi-Fi router and teaching them, how they can start a video call by pressing one button. Unfortunately. I couldn’t get there because of the continuous rushing, and I regret that really deeply. I also have plenty of other kinds of video calls, friends, colleagues and even acquaintances turn up out of the blue whom I hadn’t seen for thousands of years. But actually, is that a need? I feel like if the crisis can point out something, then it is that how much more meetings I arrange than it would be necessary. These unnecessary meetings were replaced by those zoom video calls, where it doesn’t even appear, if someone isn’t really present and has been scrolling through different news sites for a quarter of an hour. This doesn’t help the so called slowdown at all, only increases frustration and creates an illusion, as if the people worked less. Actually, the borders blur: if I answer the phone wearing pyjamas that doesn’t count as work hours yet and if the next phone call catches me still in my nightwear, then is it still not duty time yet? Don’t we reach a new level of unlimited self-exploitation with these changes? Mostly I would like to hug my grandma, but at this point I would settle for if I had had time for teaching her how to switch on the iPad. 

Creators of Slow Life. Radical Practices of the Everyday exhibition examine the social and economic causes and possible solutions of the ecological crisis. Why did your work turn to this topic? 

At the International Geological Congress in 2016 leading geologist researchers proposed the introduction of the anthropocene geological era, which adds the discretion to the discipline that the human activity, industrial destruction, contamination and demolition in the currently operating global system became a primary geological shaping force. The trade has exploded vastly in the cultural public talk since the first appearance at the beginning of the 2000’s, but as though the working up of the topic wouldn’t have occurred here, at home. We established the xtro realm art group in 2017 in order to the climate change related and ecological themed art, theory and knowledge can be able to gain space by our activity. After enormous social-ideological alterations and crises, like Galilei’s discoveries, the plague, the Second World War or the emergence of socialist dictatorship, it is not possible to do art the same way, the practises and focus points have changed. However, the climate crisis keeps in continuous transformation, which doesn’t urge for acute answering, the obligated moment doesn’t come, from where everyone agrees that so far, and no more. The crisis is here, the coronavirus is only a symptom. The question is if it is possible to answer with the tools of art for the worsening challenges, or the art’s notion can be extended to such progressive practises, which do not fit the capitalist expectations of the contemporary art’s production trends. 

 

How does the current situation interpret/ situate (maybe annihilate?) your artwork that was selected for the exhibition? 

The River Knows Better (Ophelia Lives) is a poem meditation, for a guided toned inner, corporal sound. The meditation is the mental space, where the air’s gush, the din of the bloodstream and the encounter of until boredom extended mental spirals cause the calm liveliness coming into existence. Until this day it is a general belief that meditation is a kind of solitary, esoteric and pointless activity, the culture-foreign expropriation of a practice from the Far East. While its effect on the nervous system is scientifically proven, it can be measured by the monitoring of the changes of the brainwaves. The main line of the refrain of the poem, „Slowing down to the rhythm of the river”, means the return to the by life dictated, to the own rhythm. The pulse changes fast, adjusts to the most unpredictable life situations, or even goes by a for hours lasting techno concert’s beat. But if we (get to) know our own rhythm, we will be able to calm down our thoughts only with the concentration of our attention on the essential functions of our life operations. It is a perfect tool for stress management, and in the long run it can change our human relationships from the foundations, and this way society. In the USA had been experimented with problematic and with existential hardships afflicted environments that for instance instead of punishing the misbehaving pupils, they had been “sentenced” for meditational time. These children went through spectacular transformation in a really short time, their anxiety decreased, and they became inquiring and cooperative. The meditation isn’t for the exploitation in favor of productivity. The opportunity inside is transformative on a social level. 

 

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Talk Slow

““Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.” Interview with Artist Rita Süveges

 Many scientists agree that the pandemic gives a new opportunity for humankind to lead a slower and more sustainable lifestyle. Do you agree? If not, what are your thoughts on the subject? 

To quote Milton Friedman, Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. The crisis bears within itself a number of unexpected outcomes, and the winning scenario greatly depends on the spirit in which the authorities exercise control over our lives. Is the goal to help those in need and thus create a fairer, more equal and a more sustainable society? The crisis legitimates the state to grow, and authorise itself to issue special rules and regulations. However, if the government does not use them to implement equalization policies, but to enforce exclusionist, corrupt and exploitative actions, then we cannot really hope that the poorer half of the country may stand a chance to get closer to living a worthy human life, in which the need for a slower, more sustainable lifestyle may arise. 

Lifestyle itself seems to be a matter of personal choice, an environment-conscious life being seemingly available for everyone. Still, a number of circumstances take part in the fact that for the end-consumer, the less environmentally friendly option is the cheaper, or at least the more comfortable one. One should not forget that it was capitalism that made us consumers, and its aim is to keep us in that state – and I’m not talking merely about luxury products. Our socio-cultural existence and sense of identity are based on our consumer attitudes – this is true even if we are trying to lead a more environmentally conscious lifestyle: we are avid market-goers, we collect waste selectively, do yoga, resist turning on the air-conditioner, or havent drunk a coke in about five years anyway. 

The most forms of being out in nature are invasive too, in accordance with our other consumer habits and activities – be it skiing, the pollution that comes as the traffic side effect of reaching our tropical holiday destinations, or the deceitful reserves shown by our tourist snaps. 

Will governments save the flight companies that go bankrupt? Those flight companies that – due to current reduced taxes – take millions of tourists from one point of the world to another (often to admire far away, exotic natural sights) via the cheapest, but most polluting way? Is it my responsibility as an individual to recognise that I am not entitled to cheap flights for example, even though my ecological footprint is ridiculously way below that of any local or international centre? When will these centres realize that their wealth – which allows them to commit to a sustainable, slow lifestyle – depends on cheap outsourced labour force, externalities and us? 

On a global level, although change would be possible, we are not doing great with our governments in a structural sense. On a personal level, it is hardly expectable from someone in today’s info-communication, mediatised society to leave the paved, neoliberal path of consumerism leading to happiness for a riskier and more uncomfortable junction – with an unknown ending; and to do this mostly alone, swimming against the current.  

Obligatory isolation has changed the way we communicate. This process may have advantages in the long run, however, it may also lead to the development of bad practices. In one of Asimov’s novels the inhabitants of a planet only communicate with each other through teleconferences (referred to as viewing in the book), since they find the idea of face-to-face interaction unbearable due to viruses and bacteria (among others). Communication is only one example of major change – in general, shall we hope for a better or worse future?  

As global supply chains are faltering, some industries have come to a halt altogether. Their restart powered by new investments may take them towards a more environmentally conscious direction (if considered profitable enough by the capital). In the future, economic operators may put forward local aspects more to decrease their dependence on global suppliers (i.e. not to favour local economy, but to serve their well-recognised self-interest). 

In most parts of the planet, the decrease of air pollution is clearly visible at the moment, and electric energy consumption in Hungary alone has decreased by 30%. However, nature’s momentary relief of extreme strain has only been possible through production halt, which resulted in millions of people losing their means of livelihood. 

Many must keep going to work during the pandemic, risking not just their own health but that of their environment too – in order to enable the continuous operation of public services, food and other supply systems, and keep our lives confined within four walls remain safe and comfortable. 

In the meantime, the climate crisis stays a real threat, hugely eliminated from public awareness by the pandemic. Amid the future economic depression, I wonder who will have the intention of redesigning the operation of our lives and that of society in a way that motivates us to give things up instead of pursuing our usual level of comfort. 

Having Google Earth is not enough anymore – our planet is now being rebuilt in Minecraft (rivers and buildings included), and it all will be available to us. In my opinion, the more we lock ourselves up in our own world (in either real or virtual communities), the less chance we have to see anything outside of it. Solidarity actions may bring us closer to those living in our immediate environment – be it the elderly neighbours for whom we do the shopping or the poplar trees in the park that we pass by while taking our constitutional walks. However, in the long run, isolation only separates us even more from the social groups and environmental processes that we encounter at our workplace, our community, our living space – thus outside our comfort zones. This makes being emphatic with them even more difficult, even though that would serve as the basis of social solidarity and environmental consciousness. 

In my personal life, I take communication shifting online really badly as well. LuckilyI share my home with my partner, and for me, the lockdown situation is privileged in a sense that we may slow down and spend our time in ways we previously didn’t. 

What I find concerning is that the digital surveillance systems tested during this crisis may be transformed for further use in an unnoticed manner – location tracking for example, face recognition, different databases about our risk level to infect others, and various other things beyond my scope. 

It is hopeful that all that time spent in home office will make invisible housework visible in the future. Maybe supply systems taken for granted – i.e. healthcare, education or food – will gain a better appreciation after we are all faced with partly having to do their jobs ourselves. 

 Exhibitors of Slow Life  Radical Practices of the Everyday examine both social and economic reasons of the climate and ecological crisis and their possible solutions from different viewpoints. Why did you choose this subject matter for your artwork?  

Nature has always been my main subject. I grew up in the country, in a house with a garden. As children, we played outside all the time and I spent hours observing weeds, insects, worms, our walnut tree, frogs, and crows and sparrows amid bamboo (in a Gerald Durrell manner). We lived with the changing seasons, and peas and apricots and violets grew in our garden. Once, my parents even enrolled me in an environmental summer day camp, organised by the local forestry. 

Although I have been living in the city for over 15 years, enjoying all the advantages – since my communities of friends and professionals are all here, and a variety of cultural programmes are available – I still cannot help but idealise the experiences I went through as a child. 

For this reason, my art soon turned towards the aim to recreate the natural experience, and gained a critical voice during my period of self-education: I research the roots of the separation of nature and culture, and the effects of this worldview to this day – the current climate and ecological crisis is the tip of this iceberg.  

My series out of control focuses on the states and participants of slow and fast carbon cycles. Carbon – the basis of life on Earth, one of its protagonists so to say – is in the state of constant change: by creating compounds with other elements it transforms between the states of living and non-living, solid, liquid or gas states. For us, the time spans of these coal cycles are incomprehensible, but the planet does not mind whether it is inhabited by advanced human or plankton societies. 

Most rocks for example were formed from calcareous remains of once living organisms (limestone), and crude oil was composed of sedimented layers of micro marine creatures, plankton and foraminifera over millions of years. 

By extracting and burning hydrocarbons, carbon joins the fast cycle – the natural elements of which also include the carbon dioxide emitted during photosynthesis and volcano eruptions. Disruption of the carbon cycle dynamics affects global climate balance as well, since the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere functions as a climate regulating effect. 

The energy surplus of coal, oil and natural gas made the lifestyle of modern societies possible. During the last century, the major driving force of this lifestyle has become the ideology of never-ending acceleration, development and accumulation. We have started to deplete energy and natural resources accumulated in the ecosystem in the past hundreds of millions of years at a horrifying concentration and speed. The Earth has tremendous resources of fossil fuels, and instead of fearing their exhaustion, mankind should rather fear the extinction of its own living conditions due to burning them. 

We cannot disrupt these natural cycles anymore, since the consequences are unforeseeable: together with climate change, extinction of species, vanishing of forests, floods, hurricanes and an ecological catastrophe may await not only nature, but us, human societies as well. 

Categories
Slow Motion

Interview – Syporca Whandal

We asked the artists participating in the exhibition to reflect on the situation transformed by the virus in a few sentences. This ideo performance is the response of Syporca Whandal.

Categories
Slow Motion

Syporca Whandal

Punk Kitchen Fanzine Pirate Edition

This animation is based on the fanzine of the same title by Ágnes Eszter Szabó and Syporca Whandal. The Hungarian and English versions of the original, nearly forty-page fanzines will be on display at the exhibition.
video by Syporca Whandal
fanzine text by Eszter Ágnes Szabó
fanzine graphics by Syporca Whandal
music by Zuriel Waise
loops, patterns by Syporca Whandal
synth-accordion,bells, mastering by Baján Simon Lázár

 

Categories
Slow Knowledge

permaculture

Permaculture sees all elements of agriculture – flora and fauna, geographic, topographic and hydrographic features, including man and his built environment – as a unified ecological system. It is based on the natural symbiosis between man and his environment, its close and harmonic cooperation. The expression is derived from the contraction of the English phrase “permanent agriculture”. The theoretical basis of permaculture was laid down by two Australian scientists, biologist Bill Mollison and ecologist David Holmgren in the 1970s, and the movement has gained increasing popularity ever since. It aims at decreasing the exploitation of nature, and the energy need and the environmental damaging effects of providing for human needs, while enhancing the creation of a more sustainable ecosystem. 

The everydays of a permacultural garden are characterised by rainwater harvesting, composting, the full use of plant waste, chemical-free crop production and the use of renewable energy sources. As opposed to monocultural cultivation, permaculture focuses on supporting a slow or minimal intervention approach, thinking in small-scale systems, and the diversity of species. 

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Slow Knowledge

biodiversity 

 By biodiversity we mean the variety of life on Earth and the interaction among its creatures. From a different viewpoint, it may also be defined as the “knowledge” accumulated during the many million years of evolution that makes living organisms capable of adapting to the ever-changing environmental influences. Biodiversity is the greatest in the tropical rainforests near the equator (which host two-thirds of all known species), and decreases over distance to the poles. We may describe it with the number of species present, their incidence and its time and spatial patterns. 

Biodiversity is threatened by many factors: apart from natural causes such as ice ages, continental collisions, volcanic eruptions or the destructive power of meteorites, the most consequential one is human activity. The destruction of habitat, environmental pollution, the increasing human population, poaching and the spread of invasive species all contribute to the immense decrease of biodiversity, leading to a possible ecological catastrophe in the future. 

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Slow Knowledge

ecological footprint

 The term was coined by Canadian ecologists William E. Rees and Mathis Wackernagel in 1995. Ecological footprint measures how much fertile land is needed to support the level of consumption of an individual, an area or a country, and to absorb its waste. The ecological footprint shows the rate of humanity’s natural resource use, and also how many additional individuals our planet may adequately provide for. The units for ecological footprint are global hectares. Due to imprecise calculations, the model is being continuously revised, including more and more aspects in the process. The ecological footprint rate is rather approximate, symbolic so to say – its aim being an incentive to a more sustainable lifestyle and the change of consumption habits. According to the latest data, the average ecological footprint of Hungary is 3.7 hectares, while globally there are only 1.8 hectares of biologically productive land and sea area available per person. Currently the United States of America, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates have the highest ecological footprints of approx. 9 hectares, and the lowest number of 0.5 belongs to Mozambique, Nepal and Bangladesh. 

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Slow Knowledge

ethical consumerism

The term means the consumption of goods and services produced in an ethical environment and distributed by ethical companies. Ethical business principles include providing the employees with fair working conditions and wages, the protection of the natural environment, being cruelty free, and respecting human rights. The purchasing choice of consumers has a direct impact on the market, thus besides principles, ethical consumerism has a considerable practical effect as well – ethical consumers may spur sustainable economic growth, and can directly support companies and businesses engaged in fair trade through their choices. Following this logic, consumers have the ability to boycott companies with behavior they deem unacceptable. 

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Slow Knowledge

mindfulness

Mindfulness  originally a psychological treatment intended to heal the mind – is a simple technique similar to meditation or relaxation: a way of experiencing life being fully present. Its core idea is to help us regain control over our lives by focusing our attention on mental, bodily, and environmental signals, and to make us fully aware of them. This method helps us live the moment and be immersed in it, while slowing down our accelerated pace of life. Through slowing down, we give ourselves time to thoroughly process the impressions we experience, to reflect on them and thus make conscious decisions, or to find new sources of life-changing inspiration that help us redefine who we are. 

 

 

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Slow Knowledge

recycling 

The goal of recycling is to process continuously produced waste, and to direct it back into commerce. Since only separately collected waste can be processed in recycling facilities, it is necessary to use waste bins properly in our local area. Widely recycled materials include paper, metal, glass and certain types of plastic. Since not all plastic items can be recycled, you may check the triangle sign on the product label for codes (required to be indicated on all plastic items). Numerous organisations with a focus on recycling share the list of numeral codes on their websites, thus helping us differentiate and sort waste products correctly. You may drop off clothing and textiles at clothing donation bins or charity shops. Medications that cannot go into domestic waste, together with chemicals, cooking oil, lamps and other items of electrical waste may be dropped off at junkyards. 

Although the amount of unnecessary waste may be reduced through recycling, enormous energy is consumed during the process. When possible, we should act upon the principles of zero waste: by choosing reusable products, by using our own storage solutions when visiting package free shops or the market – being conscious consumers and saving money at the same time can save vast amounts of energy for the planet. 

 

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Slow Knowledge

deep adaptation

Deep adaptation is one of the most pessimistic theories about the future of mankind. The concept was introduced by Professor Jem Bendell in 2018, when he summarised the results of various research findings related to climate change and economic trends. 

Bendell’s starting point was a sociological statement: throughout the history of mankind, no culture took its own extinction into account – it seems the human psyche has always tried to avoid this thought by all means. However, based on current research, Bendell believes humankind is facing an inevitable and accelerating ecological collapse in the next few decades. Therefore deep adaptation urges the factual acceptance of the collapse of civilisation as we know it, and also calls for the elaboration of mental and emotional survival strategies for this post-collapse world. 

 

 

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Slow Knowledge

slow fashion 

The slow fashion movement tries to reduce industrial production and its environmental damage through rethinking consumption habits. As true for all products, manufacturing fashion garments needs an enormous apparatus and cheap labourforce. The fast-paced fashion industry uses up the natural resources of the planet on a large scale, and dominantly manufactures in the developing countries of the Third World – often under substandard and demeaning working conditions. The other factor of burdening the environment is the afterlife of clothes. The fashion business invites us to be frequent shoppers, accumulating unused items that – when turned into waste – will generate additional problems. 

On the contrary, slow fashion places emphasis on conscious consuming and natural materials, thus we may make deliberate decisions to protect our environment. For a sustainable wardrobe choose pieces that you really need, and may wear for many years to come. Offer clothes that are not loved anymore but are still in good condition for swapping or donation. Today more and more sewing workshops may help you transform old clothes into new favourites, or upcycle them as textile bags. 

 

 

 

 

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Slow Knowledge

slow food

Slow food, the international movement that started in Italy in the late 1980’s, may be recognised as the starting point of all slow movements. It was a civilian initiative that aimed at preserving and protecting traditional and regional cuisine, local diversity, and also rehabilitating eating together as an important social experience – as opposed to consuming fast food. Slow food appears on multiple levels: from small farming communities and products made of locally produced goods to relaxed meals enjoying the smell, texture and taste of food in good company. Eating locally produced goods benefits both the environment and our health, since product does not need to be chemically processed to survive lengthy transport times that cause pollution. As a basic rule, the further the food comes from, the more health and environment damaging the process it went through is. This needs to be remembered when looking at trendy, proclaimed superfoods that arrive from distant countries, and are produced causing tremendous environmental damage due to increased market needs. The slow food movement has now grown into a global network, focusing on preserving local gastro-cultural values and supporting local producers and tourism. 

 

 

 

Categories
Slow Knowledge

post-humanism 

Post-humanism is a generic term that contains several schools, often opposing each other and being grounded in different underlying principles. Their common aspect is the search for the new position of mankind in an era after the crisis and breakdown of classical humanism. Their other core principle does not regard humankind as the central element of existence – as the anthropocentric approach of classical humanism does , but rather as a higher, or merely different degree of (co-)evolution. 

A few examples of posthumanist doctrines include antihumanism, related mainly to French philosopher Louis Althusser (19191990). Antihumanists are critical of all traditional humanist ideas that consider humanity and the human condition fundamental. Althusser considers humanism an ideological state apparatus (appareil idéologique d’État), a relation between authority and knowledge  thus it cannot be seen as the universal value or natural state of being as believed to be since the Renaissance.  

Transhumanism praises the omnipotence of rationality and science. Their thesis is that future technological developments will result in the creation of the highly improved version of the human, called the posthuman or transhuman state of being. 

Speculative humanism explores the common future of clones, hybrids and humans, and the possibility of a humanless future. Critical posthumanism defines an image of man that co-evolves with its environment and technology inseparably. 

Animal studies aims at eliminating our deeply ingrained dualistic thinking regarding nature and culture, science and non-science, and human and animal; it also strives to constitute the ethics of animal rights. 

 

 

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Slow Knowledge

self-sustainability  

Self-sustainability is a state of being in which the basic needs of an individual or a family can be fulfilled based on their own sources, without outer help. Self-sustaining entities make themselves independent of money, global economy and employers. This idea has emerged repeatedly in the modern history of mankind – see David Thoreau’s Walden – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1854), which gives insight into withdrawal into nature from the maiming impact of civil society. In addition, numerous other examples could be mentioned where individuals or complete communities withdrew from industrialised society to reach self-sufficiency by producing all raw materials and products for themselves and their families using traditional methods. Withdrawal does not only mean independence but also progression – through building a harmonious relationship with nature, one can also develop spiritually. Traditional methods of producing do not exploit nature the way industrial agriculture and livestock farming do. Self-sustainability can also be realised in an urban environment: by baking our own bread, by using chemical free sanitary and cleaning products, by drying, preserving or pickling fruits and vegetables, or by sewing our own clothes. 

 

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zero waste

Zero waste is a self-imposed activity that aims at minimising waste production through the individual’s change of purchasing and consumption habits. As a result, producing waste  especially non-reusable waste  should be avoided to ease the burdens of recycling. The latter is essential, since the resources required for recycling are tremendous – it is easier to avoid waste generation in the first place. 

Conscious consuming reconsiders the need of purchasing a certain product. Overcoming the effects of advertising or the joy of gaining something is challenging; however, current overproduction causes ecological problems, and environmental stress can be decreased through moderate consumption. Package free shops aim at helping this problem, and besides, reusable textile bags and boxes can replace disposable, single-use ones. There is no need to throw away items we already own  numerous organisations and forums help us pass on or repurpose them. Raw kitchen waste may also be of use after composting. Another important aspect of the zero waste approach is breaking the habit of using single-use, disposable products and switching to their reusable versions. Examples include textile bags (mentioned earlier), textile handkerchiefs, napkins and refillable water bottles instead of plastic ones. 

sustainability, voluntary simplicity, climate crisis, ecological crisis, anti-consumerism, critique of consumerism 

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minimalism 

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus made minimalism as a lifestyle famous around the globe; however, simplifying one’s style of living according to actual, essential needs had previously been practised by many. 

Becoming a minimalist makes us rethink our routines, enhances our understanding of which habits or objects hold genuine value in our lives, and helps us detect the unnecessary. There are no rules in minimalism. It is up to us to analyse our work, personal relationships and home – i.e. all aspects of our lives, and differentiate between what provides us with real joy and content or causes negative reactions. The aim is simplification, and discovering possibilities that benefit our lives. In developed countries, overconsumption has resulted in the bad practice of organising our time, health, goals and hopes and dreams into a perpetual work-consumption cycle. Minimalists try to break out of this cycle to find joy, spare time, new experiences and real personal connections by pursuing a slower, but truly mindful lifestyle. 

voluntary simplicity, awareness, mindfulness, anti-consumerism, critique of consumerism, wastefulness 

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civil disobedience

The concept of civil disobedience was concieved by American writer Henry David Thoreau (18171862). According to him, it is the individual’s right and duty to resist – if a government deviates morally, and alters laws in its own favour or becomes socially unjust –, and to guide the way using non-violent tools, in case the authority does not take acts of legal protest (such as petitions and legal procedures) into account. 

Indian politician Mahatma Gandhi (18691948) shared similar thoughts, referring to passive resistance as our innate right. The tools of civil disobedience  such as unauthorised protests, sit-down strikes, roadblocks, squatting buildings and areas, or disruption of events at administrative or governmental institutions  are also used by numerous activist groups that aim at lessening the ecological crisis. These groups include: Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, Fridays for Future and the Sunrise Movement among others.