Allotropes in Dislocation

Silvia Gruner ; allotropes ; allotrope

Silvia Gruner, from the series “Viva cautivo, sea feliz!” [Live captive, be happy!], 2015
© Silvia Gruner

Allotropy, from the Greek “allos” (other) and “tropos” (form) means “of another form”, and in chemistry, it designates the property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms. Indeed, allotropes are different structural modifications of an element, atoms bonded together differently. Giving the title “Allotropes” to my blog, in no way implies a collection of writings that is not systematic, but rather, it describes the ways in which recurrent, urgent topics and debates on contemporary issues are articulated in the texts.

An array of concepts, signifiers, theories and practices such as: feminism, postpolitics, art, human rights, neoliberalism, globalization, the sensible, film, criticism, anthropocene/capitalocene, originary peoples’ struggles, redundant populations, modernism/decolonization, global warming, branding, etc. will be addressed, as they will combine and recombine giving new shape to diagnoses, ideas, tools, explanations and proposals.

One of the main premises of “Allotropes in Dislocation” is that “ideology”, defined in the traditional Althusserian sense, no longer has a role in giving shape to the reality in which we exist, and which used to embody forms of heteropatriarcal capitalist power. Rather, I argue that a new kind of “ideology” is embedded in our subjectivities as a sensibility, as common sense, penchant to a certain kind of liberal morality that functions as “post-truth”. “Post-truth” is a kind of critical common sense that is not constructed by signs –as in the post-modern cosmovision- but it is constitutive of ever-individualized subjects operating within self-constructed bubbles based on individual libidinal and moral choices and those bubbles are “reality.” Within this new form of “realities,” the “human” functions as an element in the network of the real but abstracted from her environment, which offers itself to perception through the neoliberal distribution of sensuous reality. This reality is homogenous (in form) while differentiated (in quality) and constituted by aesthetic and affective flows that elude definition and capture but that nonetheless give it shape. Neoliberal capitalism is precisely rooted in the distribution of the sensible, propelled by the globalization of the culture industry and by the fiction of a social contract to come under democracy, thereby entrenching invisible forms of state, corporate and neuroplastic control, every thriving in the Modern dichotomy of civilization and underdevelopment that threatens the extinction of the planet and of humanity.

The “Allotropes” are dislocated because while I write from Mexico City (or “CDMX” as Miguel Ángel Mancera its current major has branded it), a global enclave of privilege and key producer of culture within the globalized culture industry, aesthetic production is being prey to the same oppressive forces of cultural standardization and political dogmatism that are infecting everything, everywhere with sameness.

As in Denmark “Hygge” describes the essence of the Danish or Scandinavian experience, a positive and private feeling where everything is all right and thus denotes a fantasy-like element of national culture, what describes CDMX is “The Shit.” Designer Anuar Layón designed last year jackets bearing the slogan “Mexico is the Shit”, and not only the jackets sold out but the slogan became viral. The jacket bears a manifesto inside, a declaration: “An opportunity to remind the world that Mexico is great, that everything that is made in Mexico is well done. […] Mexicans throughout the world are changing global culture with their beautiful hearts and brilliant minds […] We are many and we are together, elevating standards, reminding the world that our voice matters. Mexico is the shit is a community, a support system and a movement that inspires love…”

In a kindred spirit, a recent video celebrating Mexican entrepreneurs recognized globally, acknowledges that while Mexico is “kind of fucked up” with its bad public infrastructure, racist proclivities, low national self-esteem, bad State funding for culture and arts, general mediocrity and corruption– all residual effects of former Mexican “underdevelopment” “fixed” by the liberalization of markets and globalization – it is indeed, possible to succeed. The Mexican entrepreneur is known for facing a double challenge when seeking success: the “Mexican Shit” which can/ has become “the Shit.” And yet, this narrative largely obviates the deepening inequality brought about by market liberalization and privatization policies; that “success” is only available to a small portion of the privileged population; that “CDMX” is an urban enclave undergoing massive environmental problems such as lack of water and yet it thrives from stealing water from surrounding State’s originary peoples’ water supplies (as in Hidalgo or Puebla); where culture (as design, cooking, contemporary art, film, urban planning, music, dance) is only available to a few, and within and beyond the cinturones de miseria (misery belt, banlieue, favela) surrounding CDMX a war is being fought against originary peoples and their territories that finds its reflection in the city in phenomena such as domestic violence and bullying in elementary schools. It is necessary to rescue forms of alterity from the violence of capital and its discourses, to point at the crisis of meaning and representation and the consequences, to denounce the imperialism of discourse that dictates the meaning of reality and to understand the forces at play creating “redundant populations” inhabiting zones of sacrifice.

Irmgard Emmelhainz, 2018


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