Thursday, January 24, 2013

Conrad Koh Samui

Five years later and I drift back in time to those days in late January 2013. Eddie was not even half a year old but right in the middle of a global whirlwind that would come to define his first two years in life. After a week at the Andaman Sea we flew across the Malay Peninsula in an ATR 72 and arrived at a place that always will stay with me. I completely accept all objections, that chained-brand hotels are not for real travellers etcetera, but Conrad Koh Samui belongs to a serene outworldly realm that makes it worthy of a retroactive blogpost.

At night, the turquoise water was all black with only the scattered lights of a few passing cruise ships at the horizon. Standing high above, I felt like fully disappearing into the ocean, with nothing but the warm winds of the Gulf reminding me that I was not at Kullaberg. Next morning, the skies had cleared and I was back with my rational self. In the end, we stayed for three nights. Following all the devaluations to the Hilton programme, I will most likely never return.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Globality as an unfinished revolution

After ten days of winter in Seoul confined to our one-room apartment, we decided to relocate to South-East Asia for a couple of weeks so that Anna could work a bit more undisturbed on her ISA-paper while I would be able to stay outdoors with Eddie for longer. Flying down here on Air China in an Airbus full of small emperors (children who are the only young ones in two generations and who receive practically unlimited attention), I was again reminded of how painful some future socialisation processes will be as these children grow up and have to realise the political, financial and emotional limitations of the world. With boys outnumbering girls due to the One-Child-Policy, there is clearly a risk for a lot of frustration and nationalist bravado in a country as steeped in revanchism as China.

I do not know why but on that plane I suddenly experienced an unusual streak of pessimism about the future. As much as everything is indeed within our reach, there may be too much group egoism, sectarianism and, not to forget, simple stupidity in this world for us to successfully meet our planetary challenges. With very limited room left for trial-and-error and armed with omnicidal weapons, pessimism does unfortunately seem very reasonable. Yet, important as it may be to take in that feeling to realize the gravity of our situation, the only way forward has to be one that believes in people and their ability to grow.

Labels: ,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ambivalence, irony and democracy in the Anthropocene

With the lingering taste of Portuguese custard tarts from the road in Britain, I browse through the pages of my newly published piece in Futures. Of the things I have written in recent years, it is perhaps the manuscript that I have come to feel the most for. In it, I have tried to bring alive many of the conversations I have had at conferences and with friends around the world about the future of modernity.

With this manuscript finished, I am thinking of developing some of the key thoughts, in particular the need for broad social investments and accelerated forms of socio-economic globalization, in new papers to be presented during 2013. Before that however, more parental leave with Eddie is on the agenda!


Friday, January 04, 2013

Three years later

Three years have passed and I am back in Dubai, this almost lexical definition of unsustainability but also the unfinished promise of all the great things that humanity may achieve in the future. The exploitation is still everywhere to be seen, the class divisions as entrenched as ever, and the economic crisis has definitely taken its toll. Yet, without any doubt, there is still a sense of optimism, a new frontier among the lucid lagoons, a common humanity revealed in the smiles that Eddie brings wherever he goes, an immediate connection that defies the stark spatial segregation. Although I have found fewer opportunities to engage in real conversations than last time around, being here definitely wants me to come back again for more. This is a place where East and West are brought together and the Arabic world is showing its aspirations for the future rather than being trapped in the memory of past injustices. I know it is naïve, but I so much would like to take Pia Kjærsgaard or, for that part, many people from dinner table conversations in Sweden along and show them all this, show the human warmth at the Lebanese restaurant, and make them see first-hand our common possibilities rather than what may divide us today.