Monday, September 22, 2008

303. On the Philosophy of Receipts and Perceptual Environmental Supersaturation: "I don't know and care b/c I don't have the capacity to." [SCALE]

I need to define myself
Before society can define me.
That is why I've come to return
to the grounds of UCSB.

I am staring at a pile of receipts on my portable desk (a folding, lengthened card table), and I am trying to find a way to throw them away. A way to rationalize them out of my life. First of all, I must meditate on what these receipts mean. They represent purchases. Of final products. From stores. Mostly all over Santa Barbara (and even places all over southern California). They represent products I "need" to survive at a very basal level (e.g. milk, meat, products to satisfy air, water, hunger, sleep, exercise, roof over head), but also "need" to survive, given the context of this mega human system (e.g. supplies for a computer). Technically, I do not need a computer to survive on planet Earth. But given that I was not even asked about my terms of membership of this Megascale Gigi, I am pissed I am a part of this. Would rather be part of a caveman group in the hills. Scale is the greatest demon of human society and the environment. So, at this moment in space and time, I am part of Global Gigi. For my contextual survival in Global Gigi, I NEED A COMPUTER TO SURVIVE, simply because EVERYONE ELSE HAS A COMPUTER. [VALUES AND NEED FOR SURVIVAL SHIFTS WITH SCALE OF THE SYSTEM] And I have to match and outcompete everyone else's efficiency and productivity level. So, as a graduate student, I go to the store, and I purchase these goods, in complete emotional and intellectual detachment of how these goods were made, where they came from, and where they might possibly go when I am done with their consumption. Who was involved in the process of manufacturing the good, and what did they have to "know" in order to manufacture the product? Who invented the good in the first place? Every single product in the store has a giant, beautiful story behind it, that requires quite intense research to figure out. And it's just daunting to realize this. I cannot know all this. I do not have the capacity to know all this. Same with being selective about the people I affiliate with. I cannot know all XX hundreds of professors at UC Santa Barbara. I have to stick to a few. It's not that I don't care. I don't have the capacity to care. Due to the volume of information. So, essentially I am forced to an existence of knowledge desensitization of my environment, and always exist in a state of a selectivel / filtered perception of reality. Honestly, I am overwhelmed, and I want to cry. I don't know. I don't know anything. But I guess that's the point of getting a Ph.D. You are officializing your acknowledgement that you don't know anything.

I am forced to live a detached, removed, desensitized life. I am forced to place a mental filter in my brain. I walk into Costco and I just go in, buy the product I need with glossy eyes, not admiring how many thousands of the same products exist right next to the one I picked up, not asking where the product come from, barely looking at the ingredients... dragging my feet to the line. Just shoot me in the head.

I am desensitized from a store environment for my sanity. But the desensitization makes me depressed. If I am sensitive, I go insane with information overload. I live in a state of emotional-intellectual paradox PSYCHO-ENVIRONMENTAL PARADOX. I will never be optimally "happy" one way or another. But at least I am writing this blog, manifesting this catch 22 condition. At least that relieves and externally manifests my internal turmoil. I think that is why I am so fascinated by ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOTISM and the condition of being an ENVIROCHONDRIAC. Envirochondriacism exists also because it's a scale issue.

So, these receipts represent mind-numbing trips to stores, to mind-numbingly pay money to buy final products I have no fxcking clue what I am consuming, such that I can mindfully exist in grad school. Honestly, I don't want to live a mindless life. But in a way, I am forced to. It just represents this entire divorce between the mindfulness of school and the mindlessness of the operations of society that allows me to live mindfully in school.

I am very sad. I want to live in a caveman society in the hills. Or I will just have to create my own caveman society on the UC Santa Barbara campus.

I have been looking through the bios of faculty at Bren. I came across Roland Geyer's page, and apparently he studies Industrial Ecology, an investigation of the life cycles of manufactured products. His background is in physics and engineering. I am a conformist to the reasoning of life cycles: I call it Ecological Structure and Process Knowledge and Historical Ecological Knowledge. the Proximal and Ultimate sources of products. This is also known as "political ecology," according to Julie Ekstrom (now a post doc at Stanford). The issue is I would be more interested in calling it INDUSTRIAL RESOURCE ECOLOGY, if it is the life cycle of a product that is not invented by humans. For example, humans did not "invent" rock crabs. They invented "computers." I am also interested in INDUSTRIAL MEDIA ECOLOGY: where stories come from and where they go. How stories from the university are being translated, passed around, and used in society. What are the degrees of distortion of the story. Ultimately, these ideas came to me from an animal behavior course. Except applying animal behavior to humans. Ya, as if humans weren't animals. Come ON!

I am also creating a diagram showing the relationship of human needs with the human-built environment. The piece is called "Disconnect on Disney's Cloud: the Disconnected Self." I am writing down the names of stores and products that I use.

Okay. I think I can throw away my receipts now.

1 comment:

Yorgos said...

Interesting. Industrial Ecology IS NOT what you described earlier. The term was introduced by Frosch and Gallopoulos back in 1989 and it was refering to the analogy of the "bio" and the "techno" and lessons learned from that analogy that we can use in to improve or change productioon processes.

BUT the term developed the past 20 years to a scientific field. You can look at the "Journal of Industrial Ecology" if you are interested and make a search with the keywords "Brad Allenby" and "Industrial Ecology". Brad Allenby is the father of ESEM (Earth Systems Engineering and Management) and one of the most important figures in Industrial Ecology. He (along with Graedel and Ayres) has more or less defined the field.

Industrial Ecology is no more just an innovative production theory. IT incorporates all the sciences and all the aspects of living on the earth. Society, economy, technology and environment are combined, in many cases they are considered as one system. The analogies between the techosphere and the biosphere are shaped evvery day. Check out also the term Anthroposcene.