thomas de zengotita

Okay, you get the general idea. Unseemly access. You’ve been “everywhere”, you’ve seen “eveything”. We’ve touched on examples, but we could go on and on. Not only have you seen through the Hubble to the ends of the universe and clambered around on the ocean’s floor and entered the eye of a hurricane and descended into the mouth of a live volcano, but you’ve also watched the dinosaurs become extinct, and the first hominids take up the first tools, you’ve been on Mars, on the moon, at Hiroshima, and at Buchenwald, and you’ve penetrated the interiors of atoms and toured the circuitry of chromosomes. You’ve got 3D sonogram photos of your first grandchild as a fetus in your daughter-in-law’s womb, and your son is going to videotape the birth. And you’ve watched how many total strangers in what kinds of circumstances? Thousands of them, in their most extreme and intimate moments. People dying, people being born, being tortured, being saved, being operated on; you’ve been up their colons, in their wombs, you’ve navigated their blood vessels, you’ve entered their skulls to monitor their brain activity, you’ve watched them in kitchens and bathrooms and bedrooms, you’ve watched them fucking and sucking, engaging in every sexual act imaginable, you’ve watched them as they hear of the death of loved ones, you’ve watched them marry and divorce and cheat and lie and forgive and forget - is there anything you haven’t seen, anywhere you haven’t been?

The whole of history, the whole of nature, striking poses - just for you. Is this right? Are you “entitled” to this access? Who do you think you are?

—  from Mediated, by Thomas De Zengotita

The conquest of nature drives us to domesticate whatever is left in an effort to preserve it. This is a crowning irony, perhaps the most comprehensive of the Blob’s osmotic processes, for, with this one, reflexivity comes to haunt the whole planet, the very universe.

For starters, think of it this way: people who are least concerned with protecting nature, people who want unrestricted drilling and logging and hunting and snowmobiling - they are the ones who come closest to experiencing nature as real. For them, in their “ignorance”, it still registers as an inexhaustable given.

But people who “know better”, people dedicated to protecting and conserving, people who “love nature” - they are the ones who experience it as limited, contingent, fragile, and, above all, contained. Contained by ecological understanding, by maps, by laws. And “contained” implies packaged - which always means optional. Optional, both in the sense that it is threatened, and in the sense that one chooses to save it, to be in it, to appreciate it. The core experience of such a person, hiking the back country of Alaska, say, is best rendered in this way: “the wilderness around her represents itself.”

—  from Mediated, by Thomas De Zengotita

Raoul Heertje interviewing Thomas de Zengotita, the writer of the book Mediated: How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It, which I’m very fond of and will write about for one of my courses.