Weather report

Caspar_David_Friedrich_-_Der_Mönch_am_Meer_-_Google_Art_ProjectThe Monk by the Sea, Caspar David Friedrich, 1808.

On the one hand, this psychosis produces its own form of vision. But it’s not just that. Haven’t you noticed how the past few years have been distinguished by psychotic weather patterns?

Now weather emerges as a strange figure of a kind of metaphysical instability. It’s as if the market collapse and the dismantling of the fortress of the state as absolute shelter has amplified a sense of vulnerability to the elements to a point where the earth’s atmosphere responded in kind. We all know about climate change, and of course there are clear links between atmospheric events and crop yields that exert pressure on governments and economies. But the effect of weather on agriculture doesn’t explain the degree to which a completely abstract collective emotion has emerged in the past few years to determine the ups and downs of markets and the legitimacy of regimes. The weather arrives first as a metaphor of the atmospheric abstract, then as a figure of volatility after the breakdown of markets and uprisings, and finally as a projection of psychosis and enclosure as a massive, faceless body you cannot exit. The weather assumes the shape of a kind of romantic poetry turned frighteningly concrete. Your feelings control the weather because on the one hand you are insane, and on the other hand because they actually do. Weather as emotion feedback can be lethal. You need to be very careful what you feel. The Wall Street trader who started to lose his mind after the crash looked up into the sky and saw oceans of infographics telling him about markets and futures. The exemplary survivors, the heroes of stagnation, artists, you, me, however—we all have to do the exact same thing to survive.

But there is one final aspect of the weather I’ve overlooked so far. As a figure of rapture, the instability of weather is both a planetary absolute and a shared condition. Maybe currencies should be pegged to weather. Regardless, it brings people together, whether for pleasure or for horror. It is a collective mood swing that arrives as disaster and homelessness, but also as a day at the beach. Funnily enough, as a shared condition in the most extreme sense the weather can even be read as a kind of geopoetic revenge of the public sphere. It actually works as an axis of commonality, which is to say that, if we’re all becoming insane, at least we’ll be insane together.

From We Are The Weather by Brian Kuan Wood.

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