The last decade (or decades, depending where you set the benchmarks) has been marked by large-scale political and technical failures both catastrophic and insidious, brush fires and slow burns leaving equally scorched earth in their wake. It is not always clear to what extent such failures are in fact features--global finance, the carceral state, and white supremacy don't so much fail a public as they serve a select few. Meanwhile, the tech sector actively encourages and handsomely funds fast, big failures, regardless of who or what might get burned in the process.
At the same time, spaces for productive failure--for experimentation, for questioning, for mistakes that are necessary for basic growth--feel increasingly limited, especially for anyone working in the growing deadly sinkhole known as "content." Stories that deserve months of investigative reporting are reduced to whatever packaging of outrage will serve the moment. Artists' residencies start to resemble business incubators in which the demand for a return on investment outweighs process and critique. The young aspiring thought leader agonizingly produces documentation more substantial than the work itself, knowing that in a time where worth and capital are measured in conference talks and clicks that there's no need to show--or, frankly, do--the hard work that might lead them astray or in new directions. It's an environment that rewards the performance of effortless, shallow public intimacy and forecloses on intellectual risk and personal vulnerability.
This kind of creative and intellectual environment produces a politics in which the systemic failures only get worse, and the attempts to respond to them become more and more embarrassingly cosmetic and solipsistic. And it is hard, in a world that is mostly still on fire and where we will be dealing with the wreckage for decades to come, to ask for a space in which there can be questions, in which one can process and share and fail with honesty, compassion, and good faith. Yet another lecture and discussion series is far from a solution to these realities. But it is a space, and we are going to hold that space, and let the failures come, and see what happens.
- 3 evenings in September
- 3 speakers each evening
- No slides (unless you have a real fucking good reason)
- No alcohol
- No bullshit
- Free snacks