This post is also available in: Spanish
In one of my previous articles, called “How Long Did it Take to Take this Photo?”, I referred to a monograph written by Silvia Swinden titled “The Space of Representation”. Continued study of the document has produced more insight and has inspired today’s piece.
Silvia’s contribution identifies important moments in the process of human history to explain the concept of the Space of Representation. We could use the same study to understand how we came to our present level of violence. Violence is not “natural” but a human construction that keeps developing, its trajectory reaching a larger scale day by day.
In the measure that our current system develops, we see a corresponding growth in violence. We witness a growing fear and insecurity in people and nothing on the horizon seems to have any real chance of stopping it.
Let’s look at an allegory that might help illustrate our scenario. On my commute to work I ride an elevated train that crossed a large landscape of construction. New 50 story buildings arise on an almost daily basis. In the middle of this construction zone was a movie theater from an other era, a one story red brick structure standing among a sea of concrete and glass structures. One day a group of construction workers with yellow hats started to dismantle the edifice. They were taking the building down, brick by brick, and organizing a pile of good bricks and a pile of broken bricks, a pile of wood and a pile of metal, a pile of stones, and so on. Each pile was trucked away to be recycled on new constructions. It was like seeing a rewind Lego construction movie. Until one day there was nothing left — ready for a new something. Of course right now it is not clear what will happen with that space, if it will be home to a new office building, a park, a community center, a school or something else, but we can leave our imagination going until new construction starts and gives us signs.
Now, imagine this same process of deconstruction and recycling happening in our society, with each brick representing a piece of violence. We need first to accept that our movie theater is obsolete, our system is obsolete and can’t be maintained. Our theater has to go and we need that space for something new to give space to the future. One of Silo’s principles of valid action is “To go against the evolution of things is to go against yourself.” How long are we going to RESIST the evolution of human consciousness? How long before we remove all forms of violence from our space of representation?
Personally, I can’t keep giving 45% of my taxes to military expenses, I can’t keep seeing people jailed for unjust motives. We can’t have the risk of nuclear war growing every day. We can’t keep having the concentration of money, putting at risk our so-called democracy and impoverishing most of humanity. We can’t keep ignoring our natural environment. We can’t keep having this ridiculous discussion concerning abortion with so called “pro-lifers” who have no problem sending young adults to wars to kill themselves and others. No money or technology will resolve this violence. Only we, as Human Beings can do it. Are we willing to understand and modify our space of representation?