Reading in the time of lockdown A digital book club and model for togetherness by Center for Militant Futurology


Reading in the time of lockdown
Other | Monday d. 16. Mar. - Sunday d. 22. Mar. 2020 | Odense | Price: 0 Kr. | Written by: Elena Stanciu | Translated by: Christoffer Henneberg

Location: Odense by
Organizer: Center for Militant Futurologi

These are ripe times for futurists of all kinds. Their job is to analyze current and past events and make (informed) predictions and describe scenarios for the future, which in turn should help us make better decisions to either set in motion or prevent these scenarios. Today, however, the power and freedom to manipulate scenarios for our planetary future rests with national and international institutions, financial conglomerates and oil and media tycoons. We, the people, are bound to take it one day at a time.

For us, future scenarios within our reach are far more domestic and involve, among others, handling the current national call to 14 days of physical home-containment. The call is to “stay home” but what most of us hear is “be lonely,” which generates its own breed of panic.

But these are especially ripe times for the “utopian futurists” of the Svendborg-based  Center for Militant Futurology (CMF), who say: “stay home and stay smart.” Their projects are brilliant invitations to dream and imagine the future, in clever contributions to collective mappings of the future. On the occasion of this pandemic and national lockdown, they invite us to a less imaginative and more reflective exercise – a collective, together-but-alone reading of “A Paradise Built in Hell” by American social critic Rebecca Solnit.

The choice is clearly timely and topical – in the book, Solnit discusses the joy and positive emotions and reactions that humans have in the face of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. The author observes the consistently altruistic response of invigorated and capable people, as opposed to panicked, disoriented and selfish ones, as some media reports would have us believe. As we fear physical contagion and retreat online, it’s worth thinking of ways to protect ourselves from emotional contagion in this apparently safe environment.

Rebecca Solnit is one of my absolute favorite authors – sharp and rigorous in her arguments, she shows intellectual integrity in her critical accounts of left and right thinkers and opinions alike, and advocates for a clear, unambiguous and unpoliticized use of language. Reading her texts is an ice bucket challenge for the mind; reading her texts in times of uncertainty and doubt should prove all the more valuable, in helping us discern reason from emotional manipulation and have (informed) hope for an unknown future.

The CMF digital reading club started on 12. March and continues every week with a new chapter. Join the Facebook group to discuss the book and request a digital copy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/290150105296234/

Photo: Wolfgang Vennemann

Link to the event

Written by Elena Stanciu

Elena has an MA in American Studies from SDU, and currently works as Features Editor for arts and culture publication PETRIe. She is interested in visual culture and contemporary art, design an...