DIALECTIC OF GARBAGE
This is a blog by Bara Kolenc.
Capitalism is, as we know, a morbid practice. It feeds on dying and its products are corpses of all kinds.
In contrast to the crafts and the goods created by humans for their own use or delight, into which their makers have breathed life and which are made to be, to last, the products of industrial production are made to die, that is, to expire or to break down—as has become explicitly obvious with the practice of planned obsolescence. Humanity has surrounded itself with corpses of things and a human life is one spent among garbage dumps.
The development of capitalism can be easily seen through the dialectic of garbage.
From the being-in-itself of early industrial capitalism, where tones of industrial leftovers stood in the open and transformed the natural landscape as part of the state of things but were, as absolute otherness, completely unnoticed, unthought of, and uninteresting, to the being-for-itself of the early postindustrial capitalism and consumerism, where the leftovers of the consumed goods were noticed and considered as a disrupter of the clean and orderly world and have been, as such, literally suppressed: the rubbish was compacted, hidden from view, buried in caves, or dumped in remote, third-world places. Here, otherness was recognized but neglected as a pure externality: in a form of self-deception and self-blinding, it was made invisible. And finally, in the last turn, we came to the perverse inversion of being-in-and-for-itself of late, postindustrial capitalism and consumerism, where garbage was recognized as our very otherness, as our internal externality. In the psychoanalytical rubbish processes dealing with dung and manure, it was dug out and dealt with, worked through the (re)cycling mechanisms of the human mind and garbage industry. The waste was made present, and presentified, together with guilt and fear imposed on the consumer slaves and with the obscene anal enjoyment of the magnificence and sublimity of human leftovers, which transcends nature in the colorfulness of contingency, as is the case, for example, in “poorism” as the hottest form of tourist tours to the rubbish dumps (which are considered to be sexy and photogenic) in the guise of a do-gooder mission.
In our time, the dialectic of garbage has come to an end. We are at the beginning of a new dialectical turn; a turn that will be either a turn of garbage without man or a turn of man without garbage. The hand-painted message on the railing of a precipitous road somewhere in southern Dalmatia is in this sense indicative: Don’t throw litter (*into the precipice)! If you do toss it, jump also yourself.
Photo: Zack Sievers
Haptic Cinematography Project