For QuaysCulture, Salford: Radical Animal - play, ecology, human nature

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Pat Kane's presentation to QuaysCulture event, Salford, on 26th October, 2013. For more information please visit http://www.theplayethic.com

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For QuaysCulture, Salford: Radical Animal - play, ecology, human nature

  1. 1. Radical Animal: play, ecology, human nature/ Pat Kane www.radicalanimal.net @radicalanimals QuaysCultureEvent, 25/10/13 Saturday, 26 October 13
  2. 2. In honour of Tony Wilson, 20 February 1950 – 10 August 2007 “The Hacienda must be built” (again & again & again...) Saturday, 26 October 13
  3. 3. SPOT THE HANDHELD, NETWORKED, VIRTUALISING PORTAL... Saturday, 26 October 13
  4. 4. SPOT THE HANDHELD, NETWORKED, VIRTUALISING PORTAL.... Saturday, 26 October 13
  5. 5. JOY OF PLAY * JOY OF MAKING/CRAFT/POIESIS JOY OF SELF-MASTERY * JOY OF SOCIABILITY Saturday, 26 October 13
  6. 6. JOY OF PLAY * JOY OF MAKING/CRAFT/POIESIS JOY OF SELF-MASTERY * JOY OF SOCIABILITY Saturday, 26 October 13
  7. 7. ...& The RUIN OF PLAY According to a recent Greenpeacer eport, Make IT Green: Cloud Computing and its Contribution to Climate Change, the electricity consumed by cloud computing globally will increase from 632 billion kilowatt hours in 2007 to 1,963 billion kWh by 2020 and the associated CO2 equivalent emissions would reach 1,034 megatonnes. Guardian, 2010 During the last 15 years the civil war conflict in Congo has cost the lives of more than 5 million people and 300.000 women have been raped. The war will continue as long as armed groups can finance their warfare by selling minerals to companies supplying mobile phone manufacturers. http://www.bloodinthemobile.org Saturday, 26 October 13
  8. 8. Thou art the thing itself...Unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art KING LEAR But is “accommodated” man just a joy junkie, all-too-easily seduced by his neuronal appetites for pleasure and absorption absorbtion – lost in “playbour” and status consumption? Yet Edgar points to the radical animal... EDGAR: [Aside] And worse I may be yet: the worst is not /So long as we can say 'This is the worst”. We have no choice other than to deal with the “unnatural nature of being human”, our infinity of semiotic, abstracting and conceptual possibilities, within a materially and ecologically finite world... But how? Saturday, 26 October 13
  9. 9. How can a RADICAL ANIMAL live sustainably on a FINITE PLANET? The illimitable live within limits? 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY 2. LEARN FROM THE WEB, AS A HOMOLOGY OF OUR NATURAL CONDITIONS OF PLAY AND INNOVATION – A 'GROUND OF PLAY' 3. CONSIDER AS A POSSIBILITY THE “PLANETARY BOUNDARIES” APPROACH AS THE NEW “RULES OF OUR PLAYGROUND” 4. EVOLVE A “PLAY ETHIC” THAT FOREGROUNDS PASSIONATE MAKING, DIVERSE CRAFTING, SOCIAL CO-PRODUCTION Saturday, 26 October 13
  10. 10. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY Brian Sutton-Smith, in his 1997 masterwork The Ambiguity of Play. A non-reductive socio-biological definition of play as "adaptive potentiation". …. all those experiments, simulations and virtualisations – games, jokes, stories, constructions - that we recognise as play, but which clearly serve an evolutionary purpose: namely, to aid our complex mammalian flourishing. Play is "the stylized performance of existential themes that mimic or mock the uncertainties and risks of survival and, in so doing, engage the propensities of mind, body and cells in exciting forms of arousal” (S-S) We establish zones where we take reality lightly, and joyfully: and we do so in order to master the tensions and challenges of sociable living with other complex, communicating and interiorised human beings. Saturday, 26 October 13
  11. 11. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY NEOTENY “Neoteny is the evolutionary biological principle that the infant features of a species can evidence themselves in the adults of their descendants” (www.neoteny.org) Let’s compare Italian autonomist-Marxist Paulo Virno on Neoteny …and educational psychologist BrianSutton-Smith… Saturday, 26 October 13
  12. 12. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY Paulo Virno on neoteny 'Natural-Historical Diagrams: the 'New Global' Movement and the Biological Invariant", in The Italian Difference, edited by Alberto Toscano, Re-Press, 2009. http://3.ly/virno The human animal is the potential animal - we are in an "unfinished state". Four causes… a) the language faculty leading to… b) our instinctual non-specialization - makes us polyvalent, generalised, obsessive learners c) Neoteny - “a chronic infancy is matched by a chronic non-adaptation, to be mitigated in each case by social and cultural devices” (Virno) d) We don’t ‘fit’ into an ‘environment’, we ‘make’ our ‘worlds’ - “We wrestle with a vital context that is always partially undetermined, a world in which a stream of perceptual stimuli is difficult to translate into an effective operational code” (Virno) Saturday, 26 October 13
  13. 13. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY VIRNO’s Adorno-esque conclusions, in the age of post-Fordism Our instinctual non-specialisation? Means we’re ideal flexible labourers - all that matters is the “habit not to have habits, to react promptly to the unusual” That we fluidly make our worlds, rather than live in our environmental niches ? That serves the "permanent precarity of jobs”, nomadic in the transnational labour market Our neotenic forever-youngness, always ready to learn and adapt? Means we are now subject to "permanent formation… what matters is not what is progressively learning (roles, techniques, etc) but the display of the pure power to learn". Saturday, 26 October 13 “we’re all doomed, Captain Mannering!” …yes, if Virno is right about the ease by which our “mannering” may be “captained”….
  14. 14. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY Neoteny in Sutton-Smith is much more optimistic - One evolutionary function of play is the continuation of "neonatal optimism" throughout the life-span. - The "unrealistic optimism, egocentricity and reactivity" of the growing child, all of them "guarantors of persistence in the face of adversity", characterise many of our adult play behaviours. - Play brings a sense of joyful indefatigability and energetic resilience, which – like the pleasure of sex for procreation – is evolution's "salute" to the human animal for maintaining a "general liveliness", in the face of the challenges of existence Saturday, 26 October 13
  15. 15. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY Virno is inconsistent on the role of neotenic play in our species being… Multitude: between innovation and negation (2008) Says that language defies our empathic ‘mirrorneurons’ the Nazi saying to the prisoner, ‘This is not a man’. The joke says, ‘this is not not a man’ - it negates the negation, puts us in a space of sheer possibility, from which ‘innovative political action’ may occur Saturday, 26 October 13 Jimmy Carr’s ‘amputee Soldiers and British Paralympic team’ joke…
  16. 16. 1. UNDERSTAND THE SOCIO-BIOLOGY OF PLAY AND INNOVATION PROPERLY But how can playful potentiation, all that neotenic openness, do both things - be an everyday linguistic reservoir for political innovation? - but also trap us in a velvet cage of cliché and compulsive behaviour? [Compared 2 the Situationists, critical theory’s in a mess with play…] Intellectually, we need to keep our vista on play’s effectivity in the world as broad as possible - Sutton-Smith suggests seven “rhetorics of play”, stretching from modern to ancient, autonomous to heteronomous… but there may be many others… Saturday, 26 October 13
  17. 17. 2. LEARN FROM THE WEB, AS A NATURAL 'GROUND OF PLAY' Can I? Is it possible? I want to articulate the Net as a tool to serve the expression of human neoteny, a medium for life-long & generic faculties of potentiation …without falling into the idealism of noopolitics or cybernetics… … or falling foul of a critique of digital innovation and playfulness which links it directly to capital accumulation and the subtlest of social repressions Saturday, 26 October 13 Only one idea I have… The ‘ground of play’ links the constitutive and the constitutional
  18. 18. 2. LEARN FROM THE WEB, AS A NATURAL 'GROUND OF PLAY' The ‘ground of play’ links the constitutive and the constitutional (and may be the deep species-being foundation of the internet (why it is “so amazing” (S.Cupitt)) If our degree of neoteny and potentiation is what makes us human… … then does the internet serve as a continuation & elaboration of those supportive early conditions of developmental play? Both ‘constitutively’ and ‘constitutionally’? Saturday, 26 October 13
  19. 19. 2. LEARN FROM THE WEB, AS A NATURAL 'GROUND OF PLAY' A complex-mammalian ‘ground of play’--1) Is loosely but robustly governed 2) Ensures a surplus of time, space and materials 3) Is a zone where failure, risk and mess is treated as necessary for development. Play, in terms of ethology, presumes a degree of developmentally-oriented governance or structural support! Saturday, 26 October 13
  20. 20. 2. LEARN FROM THE WEB, AS A NATURAL 'GROUND OF PLAY' So the 'constitutive' power of play in humanity – that neotenydriven potentiation that excites both autonomists and sociobiologists… … seems to also require a 'constitutional' dimension: a protocol of governance securing certain material and emotional conditions, to enable a rich plurality of playforms. We constitute ourselves through play - but we are constituted by the ‘ground of play’ also Saturday, 26 October 13
  21. 21. 3: CAN WE PLAY WITH / WITHIN THE NATURAL BOUNDARIES OF THE PLANET? PLAY-ETHICS IN A WORLD OF ECOLOGICAL CRISIS ARE NOT EASY.... TAKE STUART BRAND IN 60'S/70's BRAND EASILY FUSED DEVELOPMENTAL, ....WITH TECHNOLOGICAL, (MERRY PRANKSTERS, NEW GAMES MOVEMENT, COMMUNAL LIVING)... ARCHITECTURE/URBANISM, ALT. ENERGY, BUSINESS CONSULTANCY) HEALTHY, NATURAL PLAY ABSTRACT, UNNATURAL PLAY (COMPUTERS & NETS, LSD? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTAuLsJDyWI Saturday, 26 October 13
  22. 22. STUART BRAND 1968 WHOLE EARTH CATALOG: “WE ARE AS GODS AND WE MIGHT AS WELL GET GOOD AT IT” (DIY, SMALL-IS-BEAUTIFUL, SOFT TECHNOLOGY) NATURAL AND UNNATURAL PLAY COME TOGETHER IN ONE SLOGAN... 2009 WHOLE EARTH DISCIPLINE: “WE ARE AS GODS AND WE MUST GET GOOD AT IT” (NUCLEAR POWER, GENE-TECH, TERRAFORMING) IS HE NOW RIGHT? WRONG? BUT RECONCILING NATURAL AND UNNATURAL PLAY OF HUMANITY IS VERY DIFFICULT... Saturday, 26 October 13
  23. 23. 3: CAN WE PLAY WITH / WITHIN THE NATURAL BOUNDARIES OF THE PLANET? 'Human activities increasingly dominate 9 crucial planetary systems. Add to the familiar ones---climate, biodiversity, and chemical pollution---atmospheric aerosols, ocean acidification, excess nitrogen in agriculture, too much land in agriculture, freshwater scarcity, and ozone depletion. To have "a safe operating space for humanity" on Earth requires adjusting our behavior to work within those systems. How we collectively step up to that responsibility will determine whether "the Anthropocene" (the current geological era shaped by humans) will be a tragedy or humanity's greatest accomplishment.” … BUT LYNAS' INNOVATION PLAYGROUND IS SECURED BY PRO-NUKES, PRO-GEO-ENGINEERING, PRO-”PROSPERITY”-AS-MATERIALACCUMULATION HEROIC, “RATIONALIST”, INDIVIDUALIST, GREEN-BAITING DISCOURSE Saturday, 26 October 13
  24. 24. 3: CAN WE PLAY WITH / WITHIN THE NATURAL BOUNDARIES OF THE PLANET? BELIEVES THAT WITH OUR WEB AND “NOOSPHERE” OF INFORMATION-PLUS-COMMUNITYPARTICIPATION, WE HAVE THE POSSIBILITY OF “GIVING GAIA ITS MOMENT OF META-AWARE SELFCONSCIOUSNESS” - OF BEING GAIAS BRAIN... BUT FLANNERY IS POSTINDIVIDUALIST – WE ARE “GREEDY APES”, TOO WEAK TO BE HUNTERGATHERERS, NEEDING OUR SOCIAL CODES (AND DIVISIONS OF LABOUR) TO GET ANYTHING WORTHWHILE DONE – JUMPED-UP SUPERORGANISMS WHO HAVE TO ATTAIN A MODICUM OF PLANETARY ETHICS... Saturday, 26 October 13
  25. 25. 4. EVOLVE A “PLAY ETHIC” THAT FOREGROUNDS PASSIONATE MAKING, DIVERSE CRAFTING, SOCIAL COPRODUCTION HOW TO FIND THE “GOOD PLAY” (LEG-GODT/LEGO) MAKE OUR RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE AS INNOVATIVE & FUN AS MASTERING THE WORLD THROUGH PLAY IS FOR ETHAN - OCCUPY (VIA ADBUSTERS) - ROB HOPKINS ON FESTIVITY/ CARNIVAL AND “TRANSITION TOWNS” - FUTUREFEST.ORG - JULIET SCHOR’S PLENITUDE Saturday, 26 October 13
  26. 26. HOW TO FIND THE “GOOD PLAY” (LEG-GODT/LEGO) SCIENCE FICTION ECO-IMAGINEERS CORY DOCTOROW LOCAL FABRICATION, REPAIR, REUSE AND INGENUITY AS LIBERATION TOOLS FOR MARGINALISED COMMUNITIES Saturday, 26 October 13 CAMERON'S AVATAR BOMBASTIC, MILITARISTIC, SIMPLISTIC... BUT AN AUTHENTIC YEARNING TO LINK TOGETHER NETWORK/DIGITAL SOCIETY AND ECOLOGICAL CONSCIOUSNESS? HOW TO “GET GOOD AT PLAYING GOD” WITH OUR OWN BODIES & NATURE?
  27. 27. HOW TO FIND THE “GOOD PLAY” (LEG-GODT/LEGO) LIVING FOR THE CITY The egalitarian aspects of city life consistently provide the best sociological & physical supports for resource conservation and carbon mitigation... Most contemporary cities, in rich countries or poor, repress the potential environmental efficiencies inherent in human-settlement density. The ecological genius of the city remains a vast, largely hidden power... There is no planetary shortage of “carrying capacity” if we are willing to make democratic public space, rather than modular, private consumption, the engine of sustainable equality... HIDE & SEEK WEEKENDER, SOUTHBANK, LONDON URBAN PLAY HELPS CITIZENS RECLAIM THEIR CITIES EMOTIONALLY – AND THUS RAISES EXPECTATIONS FOR MORE DEMOCRATIC & SUSTAINABLE PLANNING? Saturday, 26 October 13 Public affluence – represented by great urban parks, free museums, libraries and infinite possibilities for human interaction – represents an alternative route to a rich standard of life based on Earth-friendly sociality. Mike Davis, 'Building The Ark', NLR 61
  28. 28. HOW TO FIND THE “GOOD PLAY” (LEG GODT/LEGO) ANTHONY GIDDENS … SAYS ARE REFLEXIVE SELVES – META-AWARE OF OUR CONDITIONS – ALWAYS SEEING THINGS 'IN PLAY'.... Saturday, 26 October 13 “There can be no question of a “return to nature” as the guiding thread of environmental politics. We live in a world that in many respects is “on the other side of nature”—where human intervention into what was the natural world is so profound that there can be no way back. The political and philosophical implications of the retreat of nature are very considerable.” “It is unlikely that the public can be persuaded to put their weight behind climate change policy if it is based wholly upon negatives—ie upon avoidance of abstract future dangers. Can we develop a more positive set of values around environmental ends?”
  29. 29. HOW TO FIND THE “GOOD PLAY” (LEG GODT/LEGO) The confident, sustainable state “The trouble with socialism is that it takes too many evenings” (Oscar Wilde) ...so let’s take (or better, let’s regulate for) more afternoons! Killer combo of coming radical automation/ computation AND need to de-intensify consumption... Skidelsky, Schor, Jackson, and NEF say we need collective labour-market regs, to achieve wellbeing/ post-consumerist outcomes. New Economics Foundation Saturday, 26 October 13 Old 3rdWay axiom: we need to find a way to balance “economic dynamism & social cohesion” 4thWay? we need to find a way to balance “economic cohesion & social dynamism” - not just wellbeing, but well-becoming...
  30. 30. HOW TO FIND THE “GOOD PLAY” (LEG GODT/LEGO) JOHN MUIR: A PASSION FOR NATURE DONALD WORSTER Got lost in nature, a biophiliac but was ALSO a great inventor/ tinkerer/engineer “Scots are Salt of the earth AND of Machines” MICHEL BAUWENS, FOUNDATION FOR P2P ALTERNATIVES “We regard what is truly scarce as plentiful [Nature] And what is truly plentiful as scarce [Information]” Saturday, 26 October 13
  31. 31. Radical Animal: play, ecology, human nature/ Pat Kane www.radicalanimal.net TWT: @radicalanimals email:playethical@gmail.com QuaysCultureEvent, 25/10/13 Saturday, 26 October 13

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