Bodies are Weathers
by Margarida Mendes
What happens when the space between bodies starts to mutate? Do bodies in themselves change?
How can we deal with the state of generalised anxiety and deferred trauma that prevalent weather mutations are bringing about – or do we always already exist under a condition of perpetual distress?
The mood board is angry
Climate is a mediated infrastructural space that concretises material relations on Earth. As it produces imaginaries that populate the vernacular structures we design in order to survive its mutations, it also informs our political views of the world, shifting the technometabolic grounds of the structures edified. But how can we comprehend current political shifts and weather patterns if we do not correlate, for example, the intensification of torrential rainfall leading to landslides as whole rivers suddenly disappear1; the gigantic methane sinkholes blowing up in tundra2;the planned construction of gas pipelines in Iberian territories3 currently ablaze due to the subsidised eucalyptus monocultures 4 engineered for the fast-growing cellulose industry lobby?
There is still much to say about our relationship with climate change. We have always addressed the weather as an adaptable superstructure that reflects the current state of affairs. From a metaphorical palette describing mood fluctuations to a pragmatic space of social navigation and infrastructural development, climate is deeply connected with our emotional atmospheres and the way they are interlinked with our will to take actions and our state of being in the planet. The climate's very sudden mutations and shifts in patterns and cycles have been provoking unprecedented states of distress, that increase with an exponential sense of grief that haunts communities worldwide, particularly farmers and coastal populations. At the same time, as the turnover from artisanal fishing decreases due to the acidification of the oceans and the proliferation of big data technologies of large-scale fisheries, on land the multiplication of patented hybrid seeds and pesticides have conditioned the fertility of harvests and our direct communion with the growth cycles of the planet. This brings up nostalgia for a rhythm that has been lost, and which is now replaced by a suspended state of perplexity and derangement in the face of the fluctuating uncertainty of changing climates, while the relation with one's direct surroundings is permanently altered.
The collapse of social architecture
When signals are dispersed due to the invasive predatory rhythms of hybrid structures, how can we guarantee the survival of functioning social architectures?
Bees use particular wavelength-reading mechanisms to convey their position in space and communicate with their fellow kinds particular coordinates. They have developed a particular means of communication of geolocation through sensuous synaptic languages, like a dance. Transmitting information among themselves, they use rhythm as a navigational tool that enhances communication, intuition and precision. Resonance becomes the basis of the species connection, as they have developed a language based on sensorial inference and interpretation of visual pulses. Synapses are shared as common bodies that fly together, constructing social architectures.
However, these communities now too show a high level of distress and seem under collapse, as their capacity to apprehend the world and emit signals is deeply compromised. Around half of all worker bee colonies have now mysteriously vanished from the planet5 probably due to an excessive spread of abrasive pesticides, the impact of climate change, or the atmospheric burdening with electromagnetic radiation emitted by humans, among other reasons. Bees, like underwater mammals that depend on echolocation and reverberation for communicating, are straying more and more from their colonies, disconnecting from their core communities and losing the stability of their habitats.
The collapse of common rhythms is caused by deep shifts in ecosystems, but it is also put at stake through our understanding of entanglement and how all planetary agents see themselves complicit with their environments. Like bees, we are also living in reverberant habitats built from wavelengths of information-matter in constant flow, and are affected by the deep impacts and ripple effects of events that happen in our surroundings. While we navigate the current state of perplexity or delusion in regards to climate change, we must notice how inequality is intrinsic to the power relations that produce it, and how its impact is being mediated differently in our daily lives in both hemispheres.
While torrential floods are on the front pages of some newspapers if they happen to occur in Europe, the recovery plans for the tempestuous monsoons in south-east Asia and arid droughts in the Sahel region are not funded by the countries emitting high carbon emission levels in the northern hemisphere. Instead of expanding our consideration of resource distribution and vertical cartography and creating inter-hemispherical solidarity, we keep our minds calm with megalomaniac solutions scaled up to the planet, such as geoengineering, whose myth of treating the weather and nature itself as a closed circuit is relaxing for some. Yet again, this fantasy of the closed system has put the uneven relation between bodies and environments at stake, for to apply such experimental methods as geoengineering one must compartmentalise causal relations in one's scientific endeavours, dissecting nature while using the planet as a large-scale, open-door lab; a test site for man's quasi-transcendental desires to achieve the transmutation of matter and enhance the telos of human life.
At the same time that a collared elite is able to use the planet as a test site for industrial quick-fix solutions adapted to climate change, the very foundation of societal discourse is questioned, as the pillars of a “transparent” society are shaken and the veracity of news is put at stake, when factoid journalists normalise denialism and nation states erase climate data from their archives, manipulating public opinion and bringing noise to the transmission channel. (footnote EUA erasure of data)
Recalibrating the north
If there are no closed circuits in nature, and if resource flows in both hemispheres are mutually compromised, can we in the west ever speak from a state of neutrality?
The control of atmospheric conditions is a luxury not shared by all. We must frame the relative position of the citizen and its insertion in an geo-specific hemispherical economy (global north versus global south) and how the relations between the distribution of goods and the development of infrastructure are inscribed in a wider scale. With globalised economies, the dependence on resources and energetic distribution systems enforced by law stipulates the thermodynamics of bodies and how they move, behave, interact. At the same time, the policy pressures and lobbying towards global change are perpetuate the power of northern regimes in what might be a contemporary form of enslavement. But when will we consider our relative position, and reposition ourselves in global paradigm of the climate equation?
Weather patterns, changes in temperature and distribution of resources are deeply connected to forms of empowerment and the evolution of sociopolitical forms. We must then reframe and question how planetary ecology is dealt with, reclaiming the channels of political decision-making and communication, opening ourselves to sensing the resonances of the world, and how we are inscribed in participatory ecologies of transformation.
Conscious of one's capacity to intervene in our surroundings, we must acknowledge our capability of inducing metabolic states, shifting the impact and magnitude of ecological relations. All living matter is under transformation, its properties resonating towards neighbouring or distant entities. Conscious that our gestures are implicated in the restructuring of living systems, present and future, we must ponder our habits and trick our denialist selves to interact in cross-pollination.
Gestures, like seeds, are living archives that test and change the environment directly, permanently altering our communities' moods and politics. There's a resonant basis in how they replicate and generate systems of communication and awareness based on an intuitive capacity of transformative mimesis that reinstitute the possibility of conscious architectures of prosperity. We must be open to the reproductive capacity of matter in its full generosity and safe-keep bubbles of resistance that allow for the reinstitution of metabolic flows.
Synching the rhythms of the commons, we include both humans and non-humans in the ecologies of change, and honour their infinitesimal role in the transitional states of matter, from the ineffable to the macro level. We reclaim the navigational tools that we summon, the weather horizons and changing climates, and invest in our mutual transformation. Not on a basis of speciesism, but in the consideration of what lives and will live.