27 June 2018
We need to get out of the persuasion business and start getting into the magic business, or the catalysis business, or the magnetizing business, or whatever you want to call it. Using reason isn’t wrong. But with objects this huge, this massively distributed, this counterintuitive, this transdimensional, it’s not enough simply to use art as candy coating on top of facts. We can’t just be in the PR business. Percy Shelley put it beautifully when he wrote, “We lack the creative faculty to imagine that which we know.” That was back in 1820, and it’s only gotten worse. Consider the heavy hydrocarbons that subtend the soil of the Lago Agrio oil field in Ecuador, a black fudge hyperobject that oozes into drinking water, with unknown and under-studied mutagenic and carcinogenic effects. We do not need to keep on parsing the data like Chevron, the defendants in the lawsuit on behalf of the people affected by the contaminated soil. Such parsing of data would be using the very same tactic as the gigantic corporation, the strategy of producing endless maps and graphs.