AS A CULTURAL NEONATE, THE METROPOLARITY CREW DISCUSSES ITS INTENTIONS, SCIENCE-FICTION, AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO ‘THE POLITICAL.’ NOTE THE POINTS OF OVERLAP AND POINTS OF DIVERGENCE. RELISH IN IT ALL! WE ENJOY URBAN PARADOX. IT’S IN OUR NAME, IN FACT.
R.Phillips of the AfroFuturist Affair and founding Metropolarity member says:
The Institution that is Western Science was born of the politics of the 17th century, bifurcating itself as a practice and institution of empirical thought separate and distinct from philosophical thought. It is essential to note that the scientific institution’s development coincided with the emergence of the TransAtlantic enslavement system, used as a justification for subjugation. Its development was also impacted significantly by the Roman Inquisitions The Inquisition had condemned Galileo for teaching that the Earth moved; Descartes delayed publishing, and likely tweaked his philosophical theories on heliocentrism, due to the Inquisitions’s belief in the Earth as the center of the Universe. Newton conducted his experiments in an effort to prove Descartes wrong, and many of his theories have failed to stand the test of ‚time‛ (whose own scientific history is convoluted, in the realm of thermodynamics and relativity). Science is the ultimate political body, the mind-body split, the dualism that persists into present times, the reason why classical physics and quantum physics seemingly contradict.blinded by its own so-called enlightenment and thusly setting light and dark as opposites/eternally at odds inside of the cascading, chaotic universe. Science is really the resulting end of a negotiation; the laws and principles we hold to be commonly true about the universe and world were all shaped by the hands of a privileged few.
Traditional sci-fi, a more imaginative retelling of science history and an anticipation of its trajectory, is steeped in the dark age from which it emerged, reinforcing the narratives of white superiority. Because we know science-fiction to be social commentary on the (d-)evolution of society through the use of parable, it is easy to see where the lines split between the Science of the haves and the have nots, and thusly where the lines split between traditional and DIY sci-fi. People on the edges/intersections/margins of society can no longer continue to try to rectify their lack of representation and their lack of survival in traditional science fictional worlds; it no longer computes for our program of living. We are here and we are many and we are political. We are political because skin color is political, because body parts are political, because gender is political, because who you like to hump is political, because breathing clean air and drinking clean water is political. And in order to disavow the political, to challenge the political, to break-down the political, you must first understand how it already has you confined, then proceed to unravel it from the inside. Out of the dust of the crumbling institutions of science divorced from imagination (what they call the hyphenated science-fiction) comes science and speculative possibility in the form of Metropolarity. A nu science for a nu world of our own shaping. Here, with Science left in our care, the thermodynamic arrow shoots out into all possible directions. Here at Metropolarity, there is no difference between the Experimental and the Theoretical. Science-fiction is the dying remnant of the old ways of living. We are Science’s proposal to imagination for a happy, lifelong union, we are time = space. ∞
M Eighteen Téllez of All That’s Left series and founding MP member says:
Politics is just a reference word to describe the obscene and greedy fight for power dominance and all its selfish machinations used to exploit one’s community and achieve ideological supremacy. I dislike words that compress and obfuscate the vastness of insidious control mechanisms like that, especially in this centuries-long era of white-supremacist colonialist patriarchal capitalism… But humans began utilizing the language tool to be able to communicate quickly. So for brevity’s sake in an informal setting I would chance suggesting that awareness of “politics” is important, that sci-fi is political, or that I am political in certain ways. But really I’m a cyborg (the Haraway kind), and I think the world has many more lenses than “politics” to be seen through.
Science fiction is a lens. It’s a conceptual tool in a paradigm still woefully clinging on to old technologies like Progress, Men, Money, and God. The word-phrase-concept “science fiction”, or sci-fi, is really a shorthand piece of reference language that has since morphed from its originally intended use, much like the word-concepts gender and mestizo. Like a cyborg, science fiction is not merely the joining of science and fiction (or human and machine), but something much more complex, fluid, and contradictory.
Is sci-fi political? I think “political” is another cloudy word, successfully wielded by mass media and its gatekeepers of dominant culture to devalue and mock those who express ideals that would disrupt the well-oiled exploitative power dynamics at play. Situated within dominant paradigms, sci-fi is inherently political because it provides vision outside of those very paradigms. Let’s not front though–the very phrase “being political” is a divisive control mechanism, particularly one that’s been polarized as aggressive/active and mired in Left/Right ethical ideologies. But sci-fi doesn’t operate on Left/Right being/not being aggressive/passive dominant/submissive binaries. It operates on desire, hope, despair. Ultimately, sci-fi is a tool, a feedback mechanism, just another piece of cyborg technology to get us beyond this oppressive existence and connected to the universe.
[Metropolarity] is a brand. We’re the ghost of 1990s Internet come back to remind you what it was like to live adventurously without the trappings of your pre-signified body. We’re a time travel start-up. We’re spirit ritual from a world without money. Connect with us. ∞
Alex Smith, founder of Laser Life queer sci-fi reading series, the Afterverse, and MP OG says:
SCI-FI is psychotropic super-spiritual revelation, a futuristic dream and sigil ritual. It’s both surreality and reality. It has, like magic and religion, been used as a political tool, but it’s true manifestations are not political in the most overwrought sense of the word. I don’t believe sci-fi has any political aspirations outside of complete liberation. To me, liberation can not be found through the machinations of politics. From Proudhon to Ginsberg to Rammellzee, all of these visionaries brought liberation technology to the masses.
Quickly, I will say that psychotropics refers to sci-fi’s ability to induce dream like trance in the writer and the reader, the participant. It’s similar to psychotropic hallucinogens in that the quality of the fiction appears to be both real (possible) and wholly surreal (impossible). The affects of the best sci-fi is like the effects of the best drugs. While the participant “sees things” many of us still without sci-fi in our lives can’t see, the participant also engages in these “things” they see; they act and behave as if being chemically induced. This is a simplification of it, because all things that sci-fi are working in conjunction to produce the effects and spiritual continuity of sci-fi.
I see say super-spiritual in that sci-fi is the teachings, experiences and being of Thor, Buddha, Einstein, Jesus, Mohammed, Athena, orishas, lwa and shamans throughout the course of time, but turned into something grander in our own, post-modern world. They are all reimagined through a futurist lens but in the hands and hearts of those who are sci-fi, they are made EVEN MORE POWERFUL! because their true natures are ALL that is siphoned. We’ve abandoned all of the clutter, the dogma, the messiness and focused on the now. Like, Neo in the Matrix takes the red pill; this is the complete, purified form of spiritual thought made into a pill! He has absorbed ALL through the means of futuristic imaginings. It’s not that he has somehow bypassed all of the Mecca pilgrimages, all of the baptisms, the hail mary’s, the sitting under trees in a Himalayan forest meditating; he’s done more by simply imagining all of those things and super-focusing it into a vast technology of the will.
And so, you can see how these descriptions all collude to form the basis of real sci-fi; you can understand the futuristic dream and the sigil ritual working together to inform, build, and create the other. The dream is the machine, the ritual is the fuel; the sigil (a symbol in ritual magic) is the on/off switch. Since this is all powered by the individual where only the imagination limits them, the idea of the introduction of politics fails miserably. This is where Ayn Rand and her ilk have misstepped, as rightists often do; combining overwrought political metaphor in an attempt to simulate freedom is completely useless. The meaning is derived from our psycho-spiritual reaction to the dream, not the dream itself.
I hesitate to say that a polemic can be built for the left from strands of sci-fi, because sci-fi is an end in and of itself. sci-fi is diametrically opposed to systems- even when systems are implied in the telling of the tales; eventually, in most of these tales, the system fails anyway! From Dhalgren to the Fall of the Towers to the Deathstar to the Tyrell Corporation; they all fucking DIE in the end. As revolutionaries, radicals, shamans and visionaries, we are wise to understand this. Replacing one system with another results in that system falling. However, when I’m staring at another cop trying to fuck with me on the streets of Philadelphia, I see the image of Goggles from Cyber City Oedo 808 smashing through a robot that’s clearly representative of the machine, of man’s nature to make himself extinct, a robot that’s pure hyperbole for “the system”, and in my mind as the metal rains down from Goggles’ final strike, i meditate on that image and I’m strengthen. But that’s not political, that’s sigil. That’s liberation.
Listen, I’m not utopianist really. I sometimes cringe at the sloganeering and sort of simplistic banality that we’re all over here guilty of, even Metropolarity and Laser Life at times. But I mean, sometimes, yes, “There IS a fucking tree under this concrete” and nearly every time, “Silence DOES equal death”. I just prefer to use sci-fi to express the beauty of things long held sacred now rotting, decaying. This transformation is what powers me. ∞
Ras Mashramani, glorious founding MP member and purveyor of the Nightspace says:
For me, Metropolarity is an expressly political endeavor. No I’m not concerned with politics–with rubbing elbows with old white men, or lobbying for marginal legal successes–fuck all that noise. Marginalized populations are politicized not because we want to be, but because it’s a political act to express the uneven distribution of power in our country. As blacks and queers and women and working poor, we carry generations and generations of fragmented stories, ones created out of anger, fear, disconnection, isolation.
But now we live in a newborn world of information, increasingly co-dependent with that resilient, inclusive, mostly free, anarchic machine: the Internet. And culture and change can be generated by the internet. Voices that are commonly disenfranchised can build their own spaces on the Internet. My own identity has been formed in large part by the internet | memories, stories, and identities I have created and interacted with through AOL chats, multi-user dungeons, forums, and personal web pages. Queer kids coming up now are experimenting with identities in places where they are protected from our country’s religions and popular kids.
I truly believe that we are living in a science-fiction reality, and if science-fiction has taught us anything, it’s that a mastery of technology is integral to survival in a plugged-in world. Today, the digital divide is real and tangible! And our identities hinge on our ability to create and manipulate data in the cybersphere to affect change in real life.
The free for all who can access it, open-source, information-sharing nature of the Internet is a model for our real life. Cities like Philadelphia are hurting for a space to discuss the future of our communities. Fragmented histories and fictions have exhausted their reactionary, grieving, angry stories. The advent of the information age can also mean the beginning of new stories for us freaks and outcasts, whose existences are politicized by overpowering mainstream media that tries it’s best to distract the masses with golums like Jennifer Aniston and google images of Kim Kardashian’s vampire face bath. Metropolarity is the real life answer to this void of critical, future oriented stories for the urban have-nots. I intend that we become a space where we can examine our world speculatively while sharing skills to control the media in the cybersphere, where ideas | solutions | hope can spread like a virus globally.
When we began forming and developing Metropolarity, I had in my head science-informed consciousness raising. I was thinking about the democratic power of the internet–of perfecting the art of coercion by digital means in the name of justice and education, art and expression. I was praying desperately for a space, as populations with difficult and fragmented inter-generational stories to tell, to explore, and critique our increasingly globalized and complex world, while learning to master the technologies that we have been blesses with in our science-fiction age.
Let’s create memes with more substance than feisty kitty cats and babies eating lemons. Let’s take hold of our representations and worm our way into the mainstream.
MEME BE A MEME!! ∞