Essays

A collection writings and thoughts by artist Gary Llama.

Navigating Known Terrain

Full-spectrum Ideology: as a Terminal Condition.

Throughout history, every world-view changing discovery of the sciences, has required the effected science to dismantle itself, and rebuild upon the new found tenants of the discovery. This has been met with periods of denial before acceptance by scientific communties, world-wide backlashes on the basis of conflicting ideologies, and most usually, the attempted (and sometimes succeded) destruction of the Human Being who made the discovery.

Science is a realm that only knows what it can measure. In the cases of discoveries of whole new phenomenon, it’s acceptance generally depends on the ability of the old tools of measurement, to coincidentally, be able to measure the new discovery. In some cases, this is possible and new discoveries are absorbed more quickly. In other cases, heresy is declared. Essentially, scientist are tied to their tools, tools which are based on the discoveries of yesterday, to try and make sense of the discoveries of today. This causes science to be at one conservative, and the dreamers of science to be bound to the title of Heretic.

In Ideology, we see much of the same to occur. No single Ideology will encompass the vast differences in conditions amongst the situations of the entire world. In some cases, rigid adherence to ideology as law, may permit situations justified by ideology, to occur, though their outcome may be, and may visbily be, be nothing close to the outcome or mechanism intended by the ideology.

In short, Ideologies are the scientific laws of idealists of the past.

If your goal is to introduce a new ethic, being tied to the tools of the old may make such work counterproductive.

Instead of accepting ideologies as an emersive religion, we should instead take them as what they are, belief systems based on the historical tendency of what has happened before, and instead adopt specific ethics, or models of operation, lightly, with a knowledge that each one’s truth, is rooted in a historical situation of the past.

Deciding the efforts of today and asserting their ethical value based on an ideology rooted in the events and mechanisms of the past, is, to paraphrase Marshall Mcluhan, much like driving into the future, while looking only at one’s rear view mirror: You are going to run over anything new on the road ahead.

Romanticising Work: A Christian Ethic for non-christian people.

Many activists use Hard Work, as a marker of their worth. While there may be some utilitarian value to the amount of work one does for their cause, we must be cautious to not be replicating the value of hard work as a moral code.

The Protestant Ethic, as coined and detailed by the German sociologist Max Weber in his “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit Of Capitalism, states, essentially, that to a Calvinist, one’s hard work is a visible sign, and somewhat neccessary, for one’s salvation.

Though hard work may lead, in the case of those working on social justice issues, to a better world for Human Beings, we must realize that, assuming one does not believe in an after life, no bonus points will be assigned to us by any external entity as the result of working ourselves to death. The only entity that can credit us for doing this, is ourselves, and only if we believe such rigid action is inherently a good thing.

And upon further inspection, one may find that many of the conceptions of individual autonomy, and the positive value placed on such concepts, owe much of their credence as “good” to the indoctrination of Calvinist religious thought so prevelant in Western Civilization.

Feeding the monolith: Falling in love with the group

With every position we hold, whether in a formal institution, or among grassroots movements, we run the danger of working more to protect our position, rather than to advance our end goal.

Protecting our position becomes an issue when our position becomes a part of our identity. Our position may be that of participant in a group, or leader of the group itself. Both can be absorbed into effecting how we perceive ourselves. And once absorbed into our identity, we become motivated to perpetuate the group, as we see it as a part of ourselves.

Instinctively, humans tend to build a sense of identity from the sum of their actions, and there seems to be no way to prevent this, and preventing it may be a bad idea in itself, as we all need to feel reward for our work. The trick is, to allow one’s self to feel good about their work, to recognize their work as a good thing, but not feel as though they are terminally attached to any group, or position. After all, any group or job is nothing more than apparatus for effecting some end outcome, and the outcome should be the goal, not the perpetuation of the mechanism that allows us to get there.

Lost in the movement: Activism as Identity

With any group, we tend to build friends, communities, and enemies the more we interact. When these elements are based off the idea of an ethic, it allows us to feel empathy and have compassion for a community in which we identity with. But we must be careful not to extract our identity from such groups. And this can seem impossibly hard to do, but it isn’t really so hard.

Keeping an eye on the long term, we can appreciate the work and comradery of those around us, in a healthy way, without letting the larger group or actions define us.

There is no good way to build identity. In fact, the idea of identity tends to be corrosive, at least in the way it is applied in modern times.

Instead of looking to define the small slivers of who you are as parts of building identity, it is better just to accept yourself as a human being, and validate yourself as such. Then you will never find yourself degrading another human being for lacking the miniscule distinctions of Identity that you have extracted upon yourself. Additionally, you will be free to grow, without worry of unravelling your identity in the process.

You are a human being. Your are part of an ecosystem. Your value is the same as everything around you. Be happy.

A new language: Respecting new context

As promoters of an ethic, function, or idea, we have to create a new language for our work.

Some ideas require rethinking the ways of past, fundamental flaws in ethic, and in society. In such cases, we must take care not to perpetuate the solutions of old in our language, be it visual, audiotory, or written. To prevent such replication, we must become literate to the language of the old mechanisms. Too many times, I’ve seen new ideas put forth draped in the language of the old. The old graphic, with it’s inherent drive towards a conflicting solution. Revolutionary words, cloaked in a paragraph filled with words coined by the assumptions of old.

To counter this, we must become aware of Aesthetic. And work to make sure the things we present to the world, are not hobbled by the dull or conflicting work of conclusions past.

Carrier of the torch: Activism in Culture.

While activism as lifestylism may be deragatory to our specific goals and purposes, the implementation of activism in culture is a dire necessity.

Culture is the carrier of ideas. It is a trans-generational, non-stop, freight train that brings the work of those before us to the present, and allows us to know the lessons of the past, while we work on forming the ideas of the future. It allows us to stand on the shoulders of giants, per se.

All of us will die. Almost all of our work will be forgotten. All that will be remembered, is that which makes it onto the culture train.

Therefore, it is our duty, as progressors of an ethic, to leave some artifact of our work. While actions relayed to the public via experience may be curated by historians, local or world wide, leaving such things to curators allows interpretation to be romanticised, or degraded, based on recollection of the event against the activities of the future.

And so, We must produce lasting artifacts to tie in the historical context of what happened, with the intended meaning of our work. We must document our failures so much as our successes. Failing to do so forces the activists of tomorrow to repeat the actions of the past.

And while digital documents are easy to produce, their existence usually depends on the survival of one or two curators, especially in the model of the world wide web, where one entity holds responsiblity for the publishing of one work, to the entire world, in a view-only, non-physically replicating model.

My advice is to encapsulate these times in song. Music is a viral language. And in zines, books, pamphlets, whatever methods can be physically produced, and then distributed to other people. We then, carrying such materials, will march on into the future, with a description of our past, in hand.

– Good Luck

About The Site

Llamatism is a collection of things, a cabinet of curiosities, and reports from explorations on things, by Gary Llama.

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