There was a moment at the river with my mother long ago, when I asked her why we pray. She told me that prayer was not begging, or asking for things, but an expression of gratitude for the way things are. She looked at me, and behind her the river was not rushing. There were so many spirals in the current of the river, and many undertows.
She saw what I was staring at. “That is your power too,” she said. “The undertow can drown people.” I knew she was pointing to the chaos of what we cannot see, and that the undercurrent—the chaos and conflict beneath every surface—is necessary.
“That we continue is because of our stubbornness, our inability to let the elements keep us down, to strive after the only thing we find worth attaining: the prize of wonderment, the satisfaction of discovery, of opening up another door into reality that only the intrepid dare venture toward. Yes, we seek more…. we are the dissatisfied souls who hunger for something else. Not satisfied with the eternal circle of the same we keep walking out of the traps set for us, striving to free ourselves and others of the control mechanisms that would bind us and enslave us to lesser thoughts and goals.” S.C. Hickman
Solarpunk is about finding ways to make life more wonderful for us right now, and more importantly for the generations that follow us – i.e., extending human life at the species level, rather than individually. Our future must involve repurposing and creating new things from what we already have (instead of 20th century “destroy it all and build something completely different” modernism). Our futurism is not nihilistic like cyberpunk and it avoids steampunk’s potentially quasi-reactionary tendencies: it is about ingenuity, generativity, independence, and community.
And yes, there’s a -punk there, and not just because it’s become a trendy suffix. There’s an oppositional quality to solarpunk, but it’s an opposition that begins with infrastructure as a form of resistance. We’re already seeing it in the struggles of public utilities to deal with the explosion in rooftop solar. “Dealing with infrastructure is a protection against being robbed of one’s self-determination,” said Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, MS, and he was right. Certainly there are good reasons to have a grid, and we don’t want it to rot away, but one of the healthy things about local resilience is that it puts you in a much better bargaining position against the people who might want to shut you off (We’re looking at you, Detroit).
… a comrade in time. An engine of will. A shaper of a black current. Stick the key in and break it off. The Voice says: It is only in making oneself a disciple of total dissolution, by waging jihad on form itself, that one can see their work completed. Tesselation is hubris. To design, to plan, is to fail: the only success is in making oneself a part of the slavering mob of time that is always waiting patiently. An architecture of patience. The entropic assault is at the gates …
The revelation forces us to confront some unpleasant thoughts about how the world works in 2017, and where things appear to be headed. As problematic as Facebook has become, it represents only one component of a much broader shift into a new human connectivity that is both omnipresent (consider the smartphone) and hypermediated—passing through and massaged by layer upon layer of machinery carefully hidden from view. The upshot is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to determine what in our interactions is simply human and what is machine-generated. It is becoming difficult to know what is real.