Morphology of the Kulturinstinkt

March 15, 2020

The world has changed, and so have we.

Though should continue to run essays into the foreseeable future, nothing is of greater urgency or interest to the thinking class than tagging and tracking The Crowned Beast and what it’ll leave in its wake.

The essay may not be the form for it yet because, while picking up signals is more or less easy, articulating and enunciating them at the tricky escape velocity that’s needed to traduce analysis into insight —without compromising analysis— is not.

Insight will hack its own path. One can’t start at, nor st(o)op to, defining the terms in a philosophical discussion that involves us all and is evolving at the speed of life.

This is the epochal poem of the new Kulturinstinkt.

It has no Author, but will be continuously co-authored by us all in real-time. I’m here to help source, converse and shape (because, as it turns out, I’m a morphologist, not a designer). I’ll be doing my own writing on here, certainly, but also collecting brief sketches by you on the Big Moods and culture shifts prompted by life at a sped-up reality-shift: the definition of revolutionary time. now exists to find, congeal and express the new forms, themes, ideas, sentiments and watersheds of the world ahead, a glossary of/for new thinkers; the Baedeker-grimoire for the short now and the immediate future. It exists so that we may forgive ourselves.

I should be adding and moving things around here more or less daily. Remember, I’m winging it, too.

I guess this is my work now.


PREFACE / POSTSCRIPT to the Peruvian exhibition catalogue for the Venice Biennale  
I am writing this on March 23, 2020. The Tokyo Olympics have been finally postponed and, fo reasons more and more incomprehensible, the Venice Biennale has yet to be cancelled as Lombardy grieves 6,077 dead, and counting, in the midst of a moral, regional, [geo]political and generational human extinction event.
This significant delay on the Biennale’s part—as the world is caught and mangled in a pataphysical death spiral and our very conception[s] and habits of time[s] begin to wobble and change phases— deserves to be what its seventeenth edition is remembered for; the last, hubristic hurrah the design world should be willing—or able— to fling into the Faceless within our lifetimes.
How shall we live together?
As we can. If we’re able.
The surge in LA hasn’t struck yet—not perceptibly, although The Cough and sirens are already present. Today the plague gods visited our house: we learned of our first infected neighbour, and can do nothing for them—or ourselves—other than hope and pray, in terror.
California opted for the opacity of mitigation, which may be just as psychologically corrosive as having a real knowledge of the numbers.
My husband and I have just returned from our increasingly nightmarish walks. With only days in quarantine, our bodies have become attuned to rhythms that we didn’t know we had. We’ve lost our youth. And we are, one and all, discovering a most intimate and cosmic strangeness, amongst ourselves as well as with/in the world, in manners exceedingly painful.
The masks allow us to enact a ghoulish simulation of the airless parts of the disease. It’s grotesque to wear them: these are masks of more or less divergent mimicry, the abject laugh, the cruellest theatre. The Venetian revellers of Carnival reassembled as Plague Gods, Plague Doctors.
I accepted this commission sportingly, to complicate and challenge the Peruvian exhibition’s leading notion that gates are meaningfully violent, and that the civilised desire is to remove them from the commons. That I’d counter, with the curator’s full consent, by reframing gates as coterminous symbolic sluices that are able to embody and sustain the flickering and tensile contradictions of the space-bound limen.
So far, so good. It’s strong, conceptually—or was, before the days the Earth stood still.
A tweet by @white_owly flits into my phone’s screen: “Boundaries have shifted. Which means that ‘spaces in between’ have also shifted—they’re no longer where they once were. What was my limen is now everyone’s norm (which I mistyped as ‘room’).” Extreme times, extreme measures.
That. That’s it. I will never again forage or mince words. It would be an obscenity, unaffordable.
Mónica Belevan, March 23, 2020, Los Angeles