11 Notes From the Pod
Posted by <Tomi Faison> on 2022-02-15
Learning not to love, but maybe accept, the exchange of freedom for care
After spending years in the trenches of chaotic and physical, freelance waged labor, I wanted to lay down my arms. Maybe it could be called growing up, or maybe it’s positive biopolitics in action. Coming off a long stint as a welfare queen living on crypto grift profits and pandemic unemployment payments, I enrolled in a fully funded masters program at a state university. This institution, which functions at times as a restrictive pod or creative speed limit, is supplying me with stable, although minimal, income and suitable, basic, healthcare for the next three years. I’m excited to get new teeth.
Is this socialism or do you want me to live in the pod and eat the bugs?
Benjamin Bratton’s most recent book, Revenge of the Real, and its analysis through the DNR reading group, hit me harder than the other texts. Bratton does not have much new to offer in terms of his suggestive world view, but he succinctly uses the blatant global mismanagement of the Covid 19 Pandemic as a contrasting lens to the concept of a global sensing apparatus. We skeptically referred to Bratton’s vision as “the good pod.” Like memes stemming from the 2020 World Economic Forum agenda, “you’ll own nothing and be happy.” But will I be happy if I can’t own my teeth? I don’t want to rent them through a subscription plan.
I’ve been compromised by psychoanalysis so I can’t trust my memories
Ideology often works alongside the subconscious. I grew up with punks. Righteous, angry punks. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When everything looks like a nail, it’s hard to tell what is truly sharp. Were we libertarians in trendier outfits? As the long tail plays out, the ideologically charged subculture spreads between identitarian obsessed property form fetishists and ironically christian-like post-revolution nihilists. I don’t try to wonder what collapse looks like, I am already eating from that trash can all the time. I instead wonder what a project to expand human freedom could look like.
With name and license rescinded, I take on the form of a sovereign citizen
Nothing makes me feel as free as speeding down the Ohio turnpike in my ‘94 Ranger. It’s an aesthetically libertarian game, one as charged with Americana as predictably Freudian analysis. On these literal death drives, is feeling alive and free ironically enabled through closeness to being dead? Or perhaps it’s an assault on the father through the lawman? When I was younger and dumber, a pint of whiskey would be paired with these drives. Should I have ever been pulled over, this cowboy illusion would have quickly faded into a jail cell. I’m not sure if that’s freedom.
Sovereign citizens don’t drive, they travel freely, but do they desire freely?
If (1) I believed the sovereign citizen is right and (2) am under no obligation to comply with the state while traveling, would these drives and desires produce the same feeling? Meaning, does freedom come from the speeding or the speed limit? The gas or an imagined crash? And what do you do with that sort of irrational, defiant impulse? It does not want to be “sensed” as Bratton would have it. It does not want to wear a mask. It does not want to eat the bugs. It does not want to sell waged labor over endless emails. I wouldn't fully dismiss it.
But how do we build the truck?
The material conditions extended to me as a graduate student changed what was possible. My desires followed suit. A different type of freedom is at work here, a sluggish materiality obtained not through struggle and defiance but through imperfect care and rocky stability. Does that track on such a far, wide, and utopian a scale as in a Bratton-like new world order? And could such a structure ever be enough?
A pod is a pod is a pod is a pod is a limit
The bureaucratically handicapped, market servient halls of the public university, like many institutions, are in full decay. Talk to any student enrolled in higher education within the last few years. These institutions can barely provide the services they advertise, much less be competent enough to inspire thoughts of dual power. This is to say nothing of the rampant cultural marxism, radical centrism, and anarcho-bidenism, wrapped up in a folk-political aura that thrives in the absence of a future.
I want to go to Walmart, I want to cry like Gorbachev
At every stage of stagnation, I see value in representational, utopian thinking. I will swim in all the dirty bath water to save every ugly baby, if that’s the best we’ve got. If we want more, which we do, we should have more. For me, teeth are a beginning. Bodily autonomy, maximal automation, universal basic services, worker control of the means of production. I imagine we could get all those things, but I still want to hit 100mph on the Ohio turnpike. Hits different tho.