Ravirer A digital garden about disrupting status quo

Hello, my name is Ariane Beaudin.
I am an anticapitalist writer and eternal generalist.

Welcome to Ravirer, my digital garden.

But what is a digital garden? Joel Hooks describes it as

a metaphor for thinking about writing and creating that focuses less on the resulting “showpiece” and more on the process, care, and craft it takes to get there.

If you want to know more about me or what I’m doing, you can jump to the /about page or the /now page. I also write poetry & propaganda.

fascism and conspiracy theories

Too lazy to write a coherent text, but I’ve been trying to investigate the relations between polarization, fascism and conspiracy thinking so here’s a few things about that.

Cool sources of info:

Thoughts :

  • Fascism, and right-wing politics in general, relies on conspiracy thinking
  • Fascism = exploitation of the alienated state of the world, the agitator takes advantage of the disenchantment and confusion people experience because of capitalism
  • 7 traits of conspiracy, the acronym CONSPIR : Contradictory, Overriding suspicion, Nefarious intent, Something must be wrong, Persecuted victim, Immune to evidence, Re-interpreting randomness
  • Social media accentuates the spread of conspiracies and polarization (because of algorithms, profits)
  • It feels better to have an explanation than no explanation, the gap in the explanation = capitalism (and imperialism) though
  • It also feels good to feel like a victim
  • Idea that there is true in some of the conspiracies, and grief that comes with that (exemple : the world is indeed corrupted)
  • When studying psychology, never forget the socioeconomical context around everything
  • Compassion is hard but it is probably the way to go
  • I should continue to investigate what is going on with this Pastel Q-Anon moment (see cancel culture as banishment)

Questions :

  • While we can possibly easily reach the youth via the education system to provide them with critical thinking tools and media literacy, how do we manage to educate the adults efficiently on the same topic? If there isn’t, is the most efficient venue to solve this issue is to legislate around social media?
  • Could we say that the recent right-wing editorials in Quebec’s presses are fascist? Where does it stop being right-wing and start being fascism?
  • At the end of the day, does it all goes to isolation/individualism and secularisation? People fall in these rabbit hole of conspiracies to find belonging and meaning after all.

cancel culture as banishment

I really want to read adrienne maree brown’s book We Will Not Cancel Us. I think we need to be really critical of cancel culture as it creates a lot of divided in our already divided left. Conspiracy theories like Pastel Q-Anon make me even more worried about how things might evolve. Accounts like caitdissociates on IG who self-proclaimed as “Pastel QAnon/Alt-Right Cult Destroyer” feed those worries. Many of their posts claim that Jay Manicom and Clementine Morrigan (who are partners) are responsible for Alt-Right Abuse Cult because Jay made his master thesis on the topic. Like… I’m studying capitalism and fascism, does it makes me a capitalist fascist? My point being that it is quite normal, even strategic, for leftists to study the right and that doesn’t mean anything. On that topic, this interesting article on cancel culture Deconstructing and critiquing the Court of Social Justice and “accountability has Jay Manicom as a case study. But it’s a recommended read, no matter if you care or not about that Jay.

Meanwhile, on my side, bits of text I’ve read a while ago came back to mind. The text was Disrupting Rape Culture (2019) by Fanghanel and covered how the BDSM community was dealing with people who do not respect boundaries. In some way, they have their own kind of cancel culture, where being called-out equals being banished, ostracised. In my opinion, the online cancel culture is quite the same : what you seek is banishment of the person, not a change in this person (even if the words say that what we seek is change in behaviors, I feel like the method/comportement says otherwise). And then people unfollow those being called-out because of respectability politics, not allowing place for the exercice of the critical mind.

In the BDSM community Fanghanel observed, she said that this banishment approach “resorts to almost pre-modern forms of policing based on punitive punishment rather than what we might call restorative.” (p.143) She also goes more in lenght about banishment in and on itself :

A bandit is someone who is living in a state of exception without formal recourse to the polis. In the course of my research, it was banishment which, more than anything else, was named by members of the community as a habitual way of dealing with transgression. For Giorgio Agamben (1998), a bandit is stripped of legal status by the sovereign. Excluded from the polis (and so, ‘out there’), he must exist in a state of exception, designated by the State, beyond the beneficence of state protection and recognition as a legal person. (p.131)

The medieval way does not seem the way to go to me.

Also another element on this very blury reflexions, from the book Silicon Values (2021), on how content-moderation began :

Facebook did not until recently take proactive measure to identify prohibited content, instead relying upon its users to police the site trough a system known as community policing or “flagging”. This system, argue Kate Crawford and Tarleton Gillespie, “act[s] as a mechanism to elicit and distribute user labor — users as a volunteer corps of regulators.” […] This practice of flagging has resulted in a culture of snitching, in which people are expected to monitor each other and report problematic activity to central authority. This form of “community policing”, like the “community standards”, is hardly about community — rather, it would more accurately be compared to the US Department of Homeland Security program called “ If You See Something, Say Something R”. Designed in the wake of 9/11 to encourage ordinary citizens to report suspicious behavior to authoritis, that program in numeros instances led to the reporting of innocent people of color to law enforcement for dubious reason. (p.17)

How much have we internalized this flagging culture and how does it play with cancel culture? Of course, people of color aren’t the people the most being reported on, for once, but I think it doesn’t help at the end of the day. Like yes, maybe cancelling people does protect our community in some way. But also, maybe by targeting even more and more white people for mistakes of theirs, or unlearning they haven’t done yet, we are scaring potential allies (culture of “we cannot say anything anymore”) and isolate ourselves further more, which, at the end of the day, is more of a victory for white supremacists than for us.

White people cannot become perfect antiracist allies without interacting with BIPOC people, it’s sad but true. A white person can read all the the book on antiracism, but reading alone is not praxis, even if you want it to be praxis. You need real people, real situations, to learn. Therefore, it sucks but it’s part of the game. Also, while it is true that we must condemn harms done voluntarily, we also need to recognize that hurt people hurt people. We are all hurting under this system. Compassion is often the way to go.

problems bigger than states

I am currently reading many wonderful books, among them The Communism of Love by Richard Gilman-Opalsky. In there the author does brilliant work at summarizing the theory of so many interesting people and I would like to mention one of them right now. It is nobody else than Bernard Stiegler’s ideas that sparked something in me today. As he tries to theorize the “societies of control” we live in today, he acknowledges that people in power

seem incapable of confronting —or unwilling to confront— the fact that things may be “uncontrollable” precisely because they are really beyond our control. Societies of control resist thinking about the category of the “uncontrollables,” so they try to control everything —terrorism, drug abuse, and borders— and they often fail to notice that their efforts are met with measurable increases of behaviors they aim to diminish. (p.196)

That was said in the chapter Love as Praxis : Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis where was examined the loneliness epidemic and the general lack of meaning and sense of self many people experience nowadays. Later, the author adds :

Stiegler confesses his fear. He is worried about his children and their futures, and he knows that the problems we face are beyond the control of the apparatuses of established power today, if they ever were under control at all. The only thing Stiegler can think to do is to return in the end to the subject of love: “Our epoch does not love itself. And a world that does not love itself is a world that does not believe in the world: we can believe only in what we love.” (p.197, my emphasis)

This frame opened my eyes in new ways and somewhat resonated with ideas from Zizek’s recent book on the pandemic, where he stresses the importance of a strong relations of trust between states and their people to maybe establish some new form of disaster communism in face of the rise of barbarism. The precise passage that came in mind was the following :

Carlo Ginzburg proposed the notion that being ashamed of one’s country, not love of it, may be the true mark of belonging to it. (p.43)

When I read this the first time, it made me laugh as I thought “wow I really belong here then”. And since then I often daydream about formulating a theory of some form of anti-nationalism from this starting point, but that is somewhat unrelated to Spiegler. In this moment, I don’t think Ginzburg’s proposition can apply to Spiegler’s concern. Because I feel that there’s a lot of apathy involved in the “disliking of the world” that would somewhat diluted the shame.

But yeah, it’s still food for thought. It might sounds like a weird detour, but Spiegler’s affirmation that “the problems we face are beyond the control of the apparatuses of established power” also sounds like some kind of relief from my activist mind? As in since it is beyond everything/everybody’s control, it is so very normal that we are all struggling to make this world a better place, and also if “we are falling apart” despite our collective efforts, like we shouldn’t feel too much guilty about it maybe? Like let’s just try and try and accept there will never be perfect solutions. Or in Keller Easterling’s words in Medium Design : Knowing How to Work on the World :

Instead of seeking solutions alone, you can address dilemmas with responses that do not always work. Multiplying problems can be helpful. Messiness is smarter than newness. Obligations are more empowering than freedom. (p.19)

to organise one's knowledge

I’m a such nerd, but I feel like, in order to be a good nerd, I should organise my knowledge a bit more. The universe seems to point in this direction too since I have encountered many synchronicities (found in newsletters, facebook comments, conversation with friends) about it in the recent past.

Furthermore, it’s been a while I want to somewhat reorganize this digital garden by categories. I just always have been too lazy to implement the feature. Afterall, in the first place, what I liked the most about digital gardens was that it was not like a blog in the way the content was organised. And yet my very own digital garden only showcase my notes in chronological order. Therefore I am in reflexion about if my urge to organize my knowledge should be partly a makeover of Ravirer or if it should be something apart this project.

So far I use Zotero to store what I’m reading. My library is public, but I don’t think it’s relevant to anybody to really dive through it since it’s such a mess. Even I go rarely see older pieces that lives there. I used Obsidian, a graph-based note-taking software, for a little time to organize my ideas (after that Roam Research became a paid application) but didn’t create any workflow whatsoever on it.

At the moment, if I’m not thinking about how realistic it is for me to code and write such a thing, my ideal way of organizing everything would be to have an index page with all the categories of subject I’m covering. On the main page of the subject would be a selective bibliography on the topic and maybe some comments to contextualise the discipline. I would like to have a search bar that would allow me (and/or people) to search through all the entries. I’d like to let myself be messy a little with those bibliographies but also have a page where I showcase bibliographies of which I am proud, in a sense that I find them very complete or original.

But parrallely, I am thinking that this selective bibliographies project could be remote of this garen, because this way it would be easier to make it collaborative. And if I want to make something collaborative, I wish I could still use GitHub, but I don’t know how much this technology is accessible to people not from the tech-world.

But at the end of the day, my concerns still go to the idea of contextualisation. This newsletter issue sparked my interest on the topic. In it, Sari Azout says very wisely that

[…]thus far, the conversation around “curation” has been too focused on the content – “what should I read?” – and not enough on the structure – “how do we collect, store, and contextualize the information we consume?” We seem to have forgotten that the goal is not to consume more information. The goal is to think better, so we can achieve our goals.

Therefore, she points out that

Three intersecting problems remain unsolved:

  1. Our feed-based information architecture is obsessed with the present.
  2. We consume information recreationally, not as a way to achieve our goals.
  3. Curation has been too focused on the information and not enough on architecture; how we collect, store, augment, and utilize what’s already in our minds.

So yeah, that’s good food for thought. And to go back to my particular situation, I feel like I would be very willing to invest energy in order to “fix those issues” but at the same time, I realise that it might “not be that worth it” because I have almost no visibility with my digital garden. Therefore, I was thinking that I maybe do need to start a newsletter and stuff.

Another thing that really motivates me is that (unfortunately) my university sucks lol. My classes, and the reading that needs to be done for those, are so very pointless and not up to date in my opinion and it makes me kind of angry because there is relevant stuff to teach people who wants to work in cultural animation, and yet this relevant stuff isn’t at the agenda. Therefore, I would like to build an alternate cursus to build the gap.

So many projects and direction I could take, it’s a bit overwhelming. But at the same time, I am very grateful because this whole situation exists namely because I had the chance to read and listen to so many interesting things these last years. I’ll meditate on that.

zizec and the covid-19 pandemic

Here’s some notes from my reading of PANDEMIC!: COVID-19 Shakes The World where Zizec argues that there will be no back to normal, hence we need to establish a new form of communism or else we’ll see some barbarism “with a human face” takes place.

  • We never learn from history, this pandemic will not necessarily make us wiser or anything
  • Idea that if China would value free speech there would be no pandemic OR we should extend our fights for human rights accross the globe to prevent new catastrophes
  • We not only need strong states to fight what is to come, but also need a trusting relationship between states and their people (especially in this age of prolifering fake news)
  • Some wants to see the pandemic as punishement from nature, but the crisis doesn’t necessarily have a meaning, and it will probably be long
  • Chapter 2 covers the idea of the self-exploited worker, where creative and intellectuals now “own” the mean of their production, nonetheless the division in type of workers (the intellectual/creative, the caregiver, the manufacturor) and how the caregiving jobs were somewhat downplayed didn’t resonate with me but anyway, those three types of workers experience different kind of fatigue respectively to their category of work was Zizek’s point
  • Concept of capitalism animisn is interesting, i.e “treating social phenomenona such as markets or financial capitals as living entities” (p.33)
  • Metaphor from kung-fu move Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique to illustrate that, once the pandemic will be over, Europe (and probably the world) will probably turns into shambles
  • The conclusion of the book is that maybe we are already seeing the emergence of this new form of communism he is advocating for, namely through pandemic relief measures, this new form communism he suggests we could call “disaster communism” to echo Naomi Klein’s disaster capitalism