The 16th annual UN climate conference started to do without so much as a bang. Traffic was backed up beyond belief, created not by the thronging crowds but by the Feral Police roadblocks meant to ensure (wait for it…) that conference delegates would be able to arrive unimpeded. So much for that.

(Don’t get me started on the price gouging for mediocre food or the logistical conundrum of buying a cell phone SIM card.)

Prof. Michael Dorsey of Dartmouth’s Climate Justice Research Project gave me this 10-second blurb on the state of play.

Dorsey also clued me into what sounds like an amazing book, Fransceca Polleta’s Freedom is an Endless Meeting (Chicago 2002), which details the logistics of the civil rights movement, with specific reference to the role of women and others whose patient sciences of the concrete made seminal figureheads like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., into viable political possibilities.

In addition to the worthy focus on the work of transformation, I am reminded of Paul Virilio’s examination of the conjunction of cinema and war, which he builds around what he calls the logistics of perception, with specific but occasional reference to the work of women in creating the possibility of both. There is much to like here, especially early in the text, but Virilio’s admittedly nonconcrete examination hinges, for me, on an inadequate chapter titled The Imposture of the Immediate. Cinema and war are both characterized by the radical retreat of reality, as a matter of technologies perception and the very logistical maneuvers or production of the event. The imposture of the immediate emerges when mediation becomes totalizing, creating the reality of immediacy.

To protest the endless meeting of climate negotiations, Greenpeace has recently started up a gimmicky sort of public commentary called More Walk Less Talk, which distributes pedometers to climate conference attendees. They’ll later have a prize for the person – and the country – that walks the most miles during this 12-day long UN meeting (subject to provisions of their reporting procedures, of course). I’m not sure that walking between meeting rooms counts as climate action, or anything more real than meetings or talking or blogging. But it might be one way to get around the traffic jams.

Advertisements