1 – Alien Invasion
ChronicleMatadero Madrid and Living Room Festival, Madrid, 2012.
The invasion of Earth by aliens is in fact a post-colonial scenario. The first CCPF brought a group of experts together from disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, diplomacy, the military, law, language, religion and architecture to address this urgent situation.
The discussion started off by focusing on the interpretation of the event. Are you sure this is an invasion? Might this be a courtesy visit or an chance encounter? What are their intentions? What if the ships are unmanned or piloted by automatons for no other purpose than to mechanically guide the vehicles? Perhaps this is just one more in a long history of invasions the Earth has undergone. Would it be possible to learn from other colonizing experiences or from invasive species situations in ecological settings? And since these precedents show different ways of establishing links between cultures, might some kind of kinship with the visitors be considered as a kind of inter-species policy or affiliation? The possibility of communicating with aliens became increasingly relevant. Which of the Earth’s languages is best suited for effective communication? Would it be possible to translate the different modalities of language? And, since all translation involves a certain deviation of meaning, could such distortions be exploited in an operational way, in a sort of economy of misunderstanding? What if these beings have no language? On several occasions, there was controversy over how to interact with aliens. What types of interaction protocols would be appropriate? Would it be of any use to start off with the ways we already relate to other non-human beings? Could one of the first steps be game-playing? Should we wait for them to make the first move? Could inaction be a form of action? Little by little, the debate became a problem of diplomacy, so speculation began about how to organize a possible encounter with the aliens. How to “seduce” our guests? Which environments and which architectural, spatial and material configurations could favour a suitable climate for mediation and generate trust? What tools would be appropriate to project this kind of diplomatic theatrical scenario? How to think of an effective play-writing for protocol? Could this be an opportunity to develop a possible political and/or aesthetic experiment? The law also took up a good portion of the debate. Are aliens subjects of law? Are human rights the proper framework to raise this issue? Does it make sense to extend the legal framework that articulates our coexistence to radically different beings? Would it make it a form of assimilation, subordination or colonialism? Should we first attend to subordinate positions before thinking about any form of law? Is it meaningful to talk about recognition rights for these creatures? Isn’t recognition always a guessing mechanism of one part of us in the other? Could the right constitute not so much a historical moral record of humanity as the project of an unprecedented normative framework, in order to imagine a possible coexistence with the others, which might involve a transformation in the present human condition? Is it possible to come up with a form of co-existence based on radical difference? Would it in any way involve giving up our present status? How do you agree on red lines in a potential negotiation? Towards the end of the Cabinet, the high likelihood was mentioned that religious forms of what could be called “alien worship” would spring up. What if they’re gods? Could one find ritual forms in religions to manage modes of relationship with the utterly other? Could the religious bond be a way to agree on ceremonies of interaction with the other? Does this arrival, which implies an encounter with an advanced culture, constitute a providential boon for humanity? At various times, the difficulty was underscored of operating on the basis of dialectical, speciesist conceptions of the type they, the aliens vs. we, the earthlings, revealing the limitations of an unambiguous conception of humanity. What ontologies would be appropriate in that case? Should the idea of a more complex and diverse community be considered? Should we instead think of a society of societies, of a cosmopoliteia? What if some earthlings identify more with aliens than with humans? What if we did not understand identity as the footprints or historical deposit of a “we”, but as a project, as an historical opportunity to think about and imagine other forms of community, other possible futures? Does it make more sense now to talk about a multiverse, rather than a universe?
These and other issues can be seen in detail in the minutes of the meetings.
* Synthesis written by Uriel Fogué, from the minutes written up by the CCPF at each event.