Animism as an Antidote to Capitalism (I)

Animism is the antidote to capitalism. If you are an animist who takes “humanity” to be a non-hierarchical condition shared by animals, plants, rocks, and humans (to only mention a few cases) you cannot view others as natural resources, labour force, or property. In animism everything is alive and has—so to speak—its own personhood. And because everything is alive and autopoietic it cannot enter under relations of property or tutelage. Organised by Carlos A. Segovia, the workshop Animism as an Antidote to Semiotic Capitalism aimed at exploring our animist intensities against capitalism’s semiotic regime.

To escape capitalism’s semiotic handcuffs we must free our creativity and allow it to make spontaneous connections with what surrounds us, like children would. Song, dance, mime, and nonsense prove helpful in this respect, permitting us to explore counter-dominant languages and behaviours which escape capitalism’s semiotically-closed circuits by making transversal, rhizomatic connections in all imaginable directions along the animist continuum in which the real consists. This is the video of Helen O’Brien and Sachi Tan’s performance: Bird-Mating Ritual.

Capitalism captures our energy to makes it useful; that is to say, it expropriates and encodes our desire, which should be able to express freely and creatively under normal conditions but is instead educated to connect itself to such and such commodities, ideas like progress, wellness, or personal success, etc. These two poems: Morning Ritual (I & II) by Liset Garcia Peña turn around these and other related issues.

Sarahi, 35
5:30 am, my alarm rings.
The sun has yet to rise, but I need to be up early to beat rush hour on the train. Black pants, black blazer, white top, the usual.
I examine myself in the mirror.

A blank stare,
Two wrinkles extending out from each of my eyes, Deepening by the minute.

I fill in my thinning eyebrows.
I mask my wrinkles with foundation that never succeeds in matching my caramel complexion. I color my eyelids to give me life,
And apply a final coat of lipstick to define my femininity.

I rush out the door, forgetting to eat breakfast. The usual.
Catch the train,
Eyes glued to my phone,

Headphones silencing the roar of the train.

Sarahi, 7
the rays of the sun awaken me,
the brisk morning air, fills my lungs.

my arms reach up, grazing the sky like the branches of the
trees towering above me.

my legs carry me to the riverbed,
skipping to the beat of the morning birds’ songs.

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in the midst of my morning swim,
a small but colorful bird sits on a tree just above the shore.

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today, I am that bird.

I paint yellows and blues on my wings, warm oranges and reds on my beak.

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Capitalism removes all reality from the things themselves so as to put them into circulation on a single plane of equivalence under the law of an abstract principle that makes them all exchangeable. And it is only in this manner that it can encode and commodify all things. Janee Mahan and Liset Garcia Peña’s story: Existential Avocado, talks about an avocado that unbecomes its (her, his, their?) commodified condition.

I felt a tear,
So I opened my eyes, Another being nourishing me.

As I begin to grow,
I start to sob.
I see others being robbed.
I am lost and don’t know
The unknown.
Waiting for my fate to be shown.

So I close my eyes,
And opened them again. Here I am at the end.

Safe and not out of place,
The sun is brighter
Then it should be on our face.
Another being picked me up as it passed.

So I close my eyes
And opened them again. Here I am at the end.

Shaken, bruised, and …
Another being pierced through me! Maybe this is the fate I was meant to see. Split in three and feeling unfree.

As I closed my eyes,
And perhaps never open them again, To my surprise,
I’m seeing another end!

I was just cold,
But now moist and warm, Another being fulfills my void.

My end?
My roots extend. Above I reach, And here it began.