Notes From A Colony / by Bryce Hidysmith

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I'd like to make note of this paper on the viability of conspiracies. I feel like a lot of political thought right now is caught up in paranoid/pronoid assumptions that make the Cold War's look frankly plausible, because at least then most of the major powers had their shit together. 


Ended up in T. Kodoma Bakery today after walking between towns. Good weird stick donuts. Strong sense of malaise. The town of Makawao feels like it was once a completely functional service industry for primary production going on in the rest of up country Maui, but now the real infrastructure such as Kodoma's has been phased out for the kind of tourist art shops you'd expect. What with the end of sugar cane production on Maui, it seems fundamentally necessary to figure out how to develop a non-toxic relationship between primary production and secondary service in areas that are currently being taken over by their symbolic value as tourist destinations, because even from the most tolerant perspective I can think of the voyeurism of the Germans and Texans walking into Kodoma's is far, far less, from the version of Makawao that you can get a picture of from its history museum.

This is the core of it: its important to understand that tourist economies that are not raw hedonism and materialism such as Las Vegas, and have a veneer of culture to them are based on the idea that you are visiting someone else, doing something else. What this ends up meaning if that, eventually, the tourists are becoming a second order effect on something that doesn't exist, a theoretically pure culture that they're able to observe. Pretty soon people start faking the culture because its not the gratification of the culture that matters for the bottom line of the tourist industry, and eventually you have Filipino women being shipped in to hand out leis for gawkers as they get off their plane. 

I know I'm just reiterating Baudrillard here, but it's worth saying again, worth putting in writing so I still demand myself to know. Hawaii has always been fundamentally somewhere that had a history I was intrigued by and a present I knew I would lose honor if I participated in, and so now that I'm here I'm trying to make up for lost honor by doing good work, as one does. I felt about the same way that I did when I was in Siem Reap. It's this same cycle, over and over again, of optimization being pitted against exploration that I document and live. 


13 Reasons Why seems to basically be an adaptation of Vol. 1 of Foucault's History of Sexuality. I feel like I'm learning a lot about the shared trauma that I missed out on by mostly not going to high school, and its raising all sorts of awful questions in me about the validity of accurate depictions of the dystopia we actually seem to live in. I don't think I'd actually really seen a simulation of what I'd assumed the reality of rape culture to be, but there it was, in well cinematographed color. Makes sense that Greg Araki worked on it. I haven't actually seen his other work but the people who talked about him being a genius were just the ones who were tracking these kinds of systems. 

The show is a story about two protagonists, first Hannah and later Clay, discovering that basically every other adult and adolescent has defect on them and every other adolescent. The world is revealed quite quickly to be ethically and intellectually bankrupt, with the notion of identifying with something larger than oneself rendered comical as all of the institutions from the school, to the police force, to the poetry workshop, are simply methods of largely content-free self promotion. Regardless of the epidemiological effect of this kind of media, totalizing despair might not actually be the most insane option in that circumstance. It's sort of like how the strategy of Lowry from Gilliam's Brazil isn't actually the worst to practice.

What do you do when the assumption is that everything is zero-sum, even love, friendship, sexuality, and so on? What do you do, when, additionally to everything being zero sum, the culture contains a large number of mutually contradictory statements about the supposed nature of things, allowing anyone to contextualize your behavior in a way that puts you in the worst possible light—a sort of distributed, headless legalism where everyone interprets things to cast themselves in the best possible light? How does one build trust in that world without having it go the way that it does for Hannah, where every action that could be seen as a desire for anything real is seen as an elemental expression of weakness?  

More than anything, it's a tragedy about waking up from the just world hypothesis. Some characters, Tony for instance, can take the atomization that comes with realizing you're living in an unjust world—though admittedly with the degree to which he has at least two different examples of double-consciousness going on it's clear that he must have woken up earlier than the two main viewpoints who are the kind of cultureless white television audiences have become accustomed to. Hannah and Clay both, in their own way, wake up to the totalizing violence of the world that they live in. I'm wondering if the message of the story—as I haven't finished it yet—is that Clay is able to redeem himself by admitting his complicity in the system, whereas Hannah wasn't able to see her part in it, leaving her with a baffling sense of powerlessness, a paradoxical certitude that the whole game was rigged from the start and it was her fault, rather than being a tractable though dishonest and self-reinforcing system capable of being dismantled with enough careful attention. This is of course likely not how the story goes, but I believe this is how reality works. That which can see is able to be in control. While the finite perspectives of individuals have the capacity to deceive and create systems of injustice, the physical substrate that supports and defines all psychologies must be irrevocably causal and thus just. Without being able to admit both the incompleteness of one's information and the methods by which one's presence as an observer are synonymous with being a participant, it is unlikely that redemption is remotely possible. 


Talking to my friend Garrett yesterday about the need for somewhere like Maui, recovering from industrialized sugar production, I brought up the need for GMOs to reduce the salt content of the soils. He mentioned the fact that the island is crawling with anti-GMO hippies, which is both unfortunate, and led me to remember this video, The Atheists Nightmare, where a couple of of creationists claim that the banana is proof of gods existence. The hilarious thing about this is that the banana is a Cavendish, a clone monoculture which can't even reproduce without human assistance. 


About a year ago at this time I was at Camp Tipsy, in NorCal, building boats and basking hammocked in a geodesic dome eating edamame and drinking ice coffee, very happy to be far away from the Pride crowds. Brexit had just passed, and my friend George had had to skip because she was freaking out about her homeland. I remember talking to my friend Mike for hours on the way back and forth from the campout about the strategy of living in a punctuated equilibrium setting and just how grim it was going to be to face down something like global thermonuclear war. I remember what it felt like to have a passport that didn't have any stamps in it. All of that is over now, the escape into detachment, into festival time, into Veblen labor to attract a guide or signal. Over the last year, it's felt like history has restarted. Rather than relying on this sense that whatever would be would be and that would be fine, there's an increased sense that people might do things for reasons. They might even write those reasons down.