Green Meme Code and the Black Day Marketeers: Interview with post-modernist artist Laodan by Willi Paul
Green Meme Code and the Black Day Marketeers: Interview with post-modernist artist Laodan by Willi Paul

Communiqué 1 -

I visited Great site. I'm interested in your Survival Guide to 2010.

I personally write about worldviews (animism, religions & philosophies, modernity and what comes after modernity). It is my personal understanding that visual arts are nothing else than the illustration of the shared worldview of the men of knowledge of the day (my blog Crucial Talk and my book
We all sense vaguely that late modernity is accompanied by the sprouting of the first seeds of what comes after modernity. The green meme is without any doubt related to such seeds and your
Survival Guide to 2010 refers to that in:

- Chapter 3. Is Sustainability a Religion?
- Chapter 6. The Shaman in Our Musical Universe
- Chapter 7. Green Symbols and Myth Making

I sense that those chapters relate to the worldview of "what comes after modernity" which is the subject of my writing and my painting. Always open for further chatting on the subject.

Communiqué 2 -

Wow! It sounds as if I was actually flowing along the same wavelength as and for sure I'm always open to chat with people who are on the same wavelength. I'm starting to read your Survival Guide to 2010. Great work.

While having been living most of my life, in Europe and in China, along the green meme I come now to value more deeply the search for "what is reality?" in the sense of the wisdom contained in worldviews (those stories, that give form in our individual minds to what is reality, that glue us all in a societal grouping).

In our present day late modernity we don't share any longer a common worldview that's why our societies are fragmenting and atomizing which by the way is the sign that late modernity is somehow the end of the area of modernity.

Life is a dance between its polarities constituted by the individual atoms and their groupings. When colliding their opposite nature generates bursts of energy that power the reproduction of life. So both polarities are necessary to reproduce life.

- Societies die out when their individual atoms each go it their own way.

- Not inserted in a societal grouping the individual atoms fail to reproduce their humanity and are dying out.

Seen from this perspective we better understand the conundrum that humanity painted itself during modernity. And in the midst of societal atomization we also better understand how our search for other individual particles that flow along the same wavelength acts like a retribalization (societal reconstitution).

But then which tribes are going to survive over the long haul?


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Paintings by Laodan-

Image One

Image Two

Image Three

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Who are the visionary thinkers / creators of the post-modernity era?

All the sages along human history. The shaman who helped their brethrens under animism. Lao Tzu, Buddha Gautama and others who projected animism as the further worldview of their respective agricultural societies. Nearer to us Carlos Castaneda for showing us that there are other ways of understanding reality and to act on reality. But also the numerous late modern sages, many of them anonymous, who try to show us that the modern and also the religious worldview are no more than illusions projected in our minds by the societal powers of the day.

Leonardo Da Vinci, Kandinsky, Masson, Hundertwasser for their critical thinking about art.

Has capitalism "eaten itself?" What can you tell us about the unsustainable strategies of the "marketeers?"

Let's first precise the historical context. Modernity is a worldview that has been fostered by the logic of capital upon Western Europeans without their knowing about it.

What I mean to say is that the logic at work in capital, over centuries of sparse practice (crusades till end of seventeen century), imposed itself not only to the merchants but also to the scientists, innovators and then the philosophers. The logic of capital was seen to provide its holders with financial success. It attracted thus more and more admirers and greed freed from religious constraints has been acting as oil on that fire. The logic of capital is certainly rational, for capital itself, and for capital holders. But that rationality was not emerging out of concern for societies nor for the individuals. It was only emerging out of the necessity for capital to reproduce itself and to develop.

The logic of capital was thus completely exogenous to humanity's concerns and it remains so to this very day. That our activity is eventually destroying life conditions on earth does not matter so much than reproducing the capital base and continuing to develop it. Our present predicament illustrates that mechanism at length.

Science and the scientific method emerged for no other reason than the need for capital to grow. Capital finances science hoping to generate returns. What does not interest capital does not get financed! The acting principle is endogenous to the concerns of humanity and what concerns humanity is thus permanently shoveled to the dustbin.

Let's now come back to the present times. In the seventies big capital holders observed that once societies were industrialized economic growth declined and eventually disappeared altogether as a possibility. They devised a two prongs strategy to unleash unbound future growth:

- globalization of the reach of capital to the whole world.
- financialization of the economy or favoring paper modeling over real productions.

The motivation of that strategy was without any doubt exogenous to the concerns of humanity. What mattered was the unbound potential for developing the existing capital base.

As a direct result from the eighties till today increased debt levels financed the economic growth of Western countries. Most economists went along and saw no problems with national debt levels reaching multiples of GDP while history nevertheless witnessed repeated economic crashes accompanying debt levels overtaking their historical mean. But then came 2007 and the tax payer was called to the rescue... In the meantime globalization had destroyed Western traditional productions and services have to pay for other services ...through emission of more debt.

To answer your question; no capitalism has not eaten itself it has eaten humanity. Today there remains only the logic of capital. Humanity has lost its vital springs and is waiting with apprehension for what comes next.

What is your dream / view of the post-modernity era? When does / did this start?

That word has been used and re-used to the point of losing any meaning. For that reason I now mostly use the expression "what comes after modernity".

Obviously that can only start after most of humanity has slipped into modernity. (the illusion of individualism, private ownership through the lull of the individuals into consumerism away from their previous economic autonomy and all this happening through the application of the logic of capital to all aspects of people's daily lives.) What comes after modernity is not circumscribed to the West (less than 10% of the world population). This is a global shift involving 100% of the world population due in large part to the de-multiplication of the level of our aggression against nature.

- Our use of resources is simply unsustainable (peak oil, peak phosphorous, water, etc ...). We'll most likely end up in the coming years in national fights over the meager resources still available.

- Our dumping of by products in nature is rapidly shifting its balance which is no problem for nature itself but is deadly for most life forms (climate change, poisoning of the oceans, of out drinking water, etc...) All those factors are slowly collapsing the economic feasibility of life on earth as usual and no amount of good will or green activism is going to change that equation. James Lovelock is probably right that "Humans Are Too Stupid To Prevent Climate Change"...

The most likely outcome of the de-multiplication of the level of our aggression against nature is societal collapse. (life muddles through but everything is changed thereafter).

The passage from modernity to what comes after modernity is decidedly not going to resemble the passage from an animist worldview under an economy of hunter-gathers to a religious worldview under an economy made up of agriculture nor is it going to resemble the passage from a religious worldview to the modern worldview and its industrial economy. Both those societal changes brought more food and more stuff which resulted in population growth and larger societal institutions. This time around humanity is not going to have more.

It is going to have less, substantially less, the world population is going to collapse to more sustainable levels and its societal institutions are going to shrink (a federation of tribes?). This all sounds so dramatic and pessimistic. But it is not. What comes after modernity, I sense, is societal change driven by a worldview that we can already feel is starting to emerge nowadays. It is still early and only sporadic first shoots can be observed. But there is no doubt in my mind that what comes is a worldwide worldview presenting reality as an organic process of change.

Reality as an organic process of change is the content of my visual signs.

How does your art reflect e drama / solutions / human emotion on a global scale?

My visual signs have changed a long time following my changing understanding of reality and the human adventure. I now come to understand visual arts as being "visual signs of the worldview of the men of knowledge of the day" (I describe in my book Artsense that it has been so since the dawn of times, only to be interrupted for a short 20th century but we are now coming back to the historic fundamentals). In such a view the content of the work is the reason of the work. My description of "what comes after modernity" posits reality as an organic process of change. I find this description of reality to be very stimulating. It centers on a positive outlook which begs for a finely crafted form that denotes beauty.

If I believe that content is the reason of a visual sign I also believe that a work of art has to be beautiful. Why is this?

The fact that we are here, as the result of a zillion changes resulting from as many zillion chaotic moments that were followed each time by the selection of one only of the future possibilities present. that is simply the most astounding of ideas and also the summit of beauty. Evolution is the selection of a near infinity of winning possibilities. All the possibilities that have been selected were winning propositions and as such they each denote beauty which means that their characteristics (lines, forms, colors, sounds,...) reflect a pattern of beauty.

The opposite can be said of all the losing possibilities. Their characteristics reflect a pattern of ugliness that has no place in a work of art. The content of the art work is its reason. The DNA code of all life forms contains the memory of each and every evolutionary step. There can thus be no better guide than the characteristics and patterns of evolution to guide the form of the content of an art work. A form based on such evolutionary patterns has the maximum chance to make a deep impression on the viewer.

What is the power in what you call the "green meme?"

I discovered the concept in Nova Spivak's blog. (a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.) The green meme has been replicating along the last decades as a parasitic code, a virus of the mind especially contagious to children and the impressionable. But it has by now lost any meaningful significant. It's fashion to speak "green". Even the Economist Magazine... Aargh! My seventies green activism in Europe was driven by the dream to change the world. The world invaded our dream but the world did not change!

Retribalization? What is this?

The worldview of modernity is framed entirely around the logic of capital and as such is totally exogenous to humanity's concerns. But after having weakened the religious worldview modernity failed dramatically to set forth its own narrative about "what is reality?". Instead of letting the citizens share in a common modern narrative that could have glued them in modernity they were proposed the level playing field of the market for ideas where sages, intellectuals and all kinds of charlatans are left to battle for eyeballs. The direct consequence of the failure by modernity to supply a shareable worldview narrative has been societal fragmentation and with the intrusion of the internet the fragmentation reached its apex in atomization when individuals are left to share their ideas only with themselves and banalities with others.

Extreme societal fragmentation or atomization leads to shizophreny. Being feeble humans feel at a loss to make sense of reality, of themselves, and in desperation for having to endure their shizophreny they desperately search for the comfort of assembling with other like minded individuals. This is what I call retribalization. Part of it is positive but the mass of it is just human waste.

I feel that the more advanced the level of societal collapse the more necessary retribalization will appear for survival.

Is sustainability like a religion? (ref)

I personally believe that all living species are governed by a set of immutable rules:

- without a community the individual can't reproduce and dies out.
- without a dose of individualism the community is bound to stagnate and then to collapse.

Modernity departed from this idea to balance the tension between individuals (atoms) and community (grouping) and favored individual enterprise over societal cohesion. The balance of the tension between those two polarities within all living species seems to act as the ticking clock on their evolutionary roads.
Societal cohesion has been provided since immemorial times by the sharing of a common worldview by all the members of a group. A worldview is a founding story, a story about reality and how we fit in it. Religions are worldviews but all worldviews are not religions.

There is a widespread confusion that needs to be cleared in order to make sense in any discussion relating to religion and philosophy.

First about religion. The etymology of the word religion originates in the Latin word "religare", which means "to tie, to bind". This implies that religion acts as societal glue. But if religion acts as societal glue it must necessarily be connected to political power.... Now if we observe religion from the viewpoint of the long history it is abundantly clear that religion arose as a tool of early kingdoms in their quest to preserve their power over their subjects. But why in the world was it so? The answer lays in the early kings' observation that the physical force of their armies was insufficient to guarantee their continued control over their subjects. Armies were moving on foot and once in a corner of the kingdom to quell an insurgency they were unable to move timely to another corner to quell another. Successful kings were those who observed that they needed to glue the psyche of their subjects into obedience to maintain their power...

About philosophies. The etymology of the word philosophy originates from the Greek word "philosophia" (philo-loving and sophia-skill-wisdom) which translates as "search for a general understanding of reality".

So how do religion and philosophy relate to each other?

Logic implies that philosophy comes first. Religion is, indeed, the accession of one philosophy to the status of imposed system of belief within a given society. In other words one specific philosophic system, among many others, is being catapulted in a position of "power belief" by the rulers of a given society and with time that particular philosophic system will be internalized in the minds of the subjects of that society as being the unique and absolute truth.

Coming back to your question "Is sustainability like a religion?"

Well no it isn't. It's more like one chapter in the description of a phylosophy. But where is the philosophy?

Wishing you well.

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