Saturday, November 16, 2013

ModPo 2013 #65 Talk and Talk is Cheap: On The Warsaw Climate Change Conference and Goldsmith's "Soliloquy"

Image is a screen capture of the Google search (images) of Warsaw
Conference side by side with the effects of Typhoon Yolanda

Find the full text of Kenneth Goldsmith's book-length work, Soliloquy, here.

Here's a memorable (at least for me), set of lines from the book:


if every word spoken in new york city daily
were somehow to materialize as a snowflake,
each day there would be a blizzard.

if every word spoken about typhoon yolanda since day one
were somehow to materialize as a drop of rain,
each day there would be a storm surge.

I'm sorry. I'm still stuck in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. It's mostly what I think about when I have spare time to just think. Goldsmith's project reminds me that we're all talk. The human race is all talk. But sometimes all that talk gets reduced to no action or stalled action.

Isn't it a known fact that people who attend climate summits, including the Warsaw Climate Change Conference, are all bureaucrats who make a lot of noise but who have not effected any concrete changes? It's an example of the way language is "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Or maybe I'm just angry.

I'm angry at the failure of this language.

I am suddenly swimming in a sea of jargon like "mitigation" and "loss and damage" and "consensus-driven global political institutions." I am becoming aware that this is all literature, all these things being written down, a fiction of sorts and a kind of language that has its own assumptions, a prose poetry if we subject it to the processes of the conceptual poets. Let's make some meaning out of this. If we can.

Maybe if someone went around with a voice recorder, during the conference, we would also get a sampling of words, tons of words, being exchanged about carbon dioxide emissions and industrialization and carbon budgets and compensation.

Compensation. There is no compensating for life lost. And yet it was a given fact already, the expected loss of life, even as the typhoon approached our country. We can draw a direct line between the talk, talk, talk going on in Poland and the talk, talk, talk going on in the media all the way to Tacloban and Eastern Samar which bore the brunt of the typhoon's effects.

Goldsmith's project reminds me how talk can be so cheap (so full of "garbage" as Goldsmith has been quoted to have said...and gossip). And the irony is: we depend on this talk, these words, to move our lives forward. And if anything is to be addressed by the Warsaw Climate Change will also be documented in speeches and resolutions...and talk. I think what's important is where we put our attention.

No comments:

Search This Blog