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Book Notes: The Hologram

September 05, 2020

(This is a draft in progress)

Introduction

Cassie Thornton stewards a prescient practice of social technology into existence here via The Hologram.

The Hologram is a post-economic social organising system composed of post-secular social practices that distribute attention, value and health to all living beings.

With a generously feminine delivery, she packages us up a gift. Through experience, ethnography, cunning curation and re-situation, we’re given a bottom-up practice for contributing to both existential meaning and practical healthcare.

One day it will live on as an autonomous, leaderless, everyday practice through the people who use it.

What is the Hologram? It’s blindingly simple:

Three people repeatedly coming together to freely take care of a fourth.

Why is it so profound?

It’s a warmpunk rebellion of the transactional exchanges we’re so often used to.

Solidarity Healthcare

Cassie draws inspiration from the solidarity healthcare movement formed during the Greek financial crisis.

The social worker (or volunteer) leads the incomer through a survey, called a health card, of optional questions covering their mental, emotional and physical health, but also their broader situation, including their family life, living conditions, work, nutrition and sleep patterns; all are considered important aspects of health in a broad, holistic sense.

How much of the success of the free clinic was about providing basic human care, compassionate attention and a safe space to ask questions?

This, in contrast to the conventional “clinical,” bureaucratic, service-oriented and hierarchical model we’re used to and have been taught to value.

I’m not proposing that we don’t need expertise at all. But so much of what produces “health,” in a holistic sense, we can create without it, together.

I’ve thought in this direction before. I even have mixed feelings about the entire pursuit of mechanistic medicine at all, it doesn’t seem very efficient, pleasurable or dignified. Yes it has tremendous merits, but too it has tremendous limitations. At a good age, I would prefer fast my way out in a stone bed in nature, occasionally visited by loved ones, like the Jains, rather than die in a modern hospital.

Cassie’s Hologram frees us of the limitations and exclusivity of institutions and gives us license to define our own community healthcare and begin it’s practice.

Our Situation, unlearning, re-imagining

There’s a sense of unlearning here, via something as simple as affirming that our wishes are valid.

Wishes

So long avoided in the name of survival, we may not know our wishes, or we may not recognize them, especially if our wishes do not comply with what is on offer.

Making wishes in the apocalypse feels risky. But maybe the apocalypse in one way came from too many neglected wishes.

In isolation it can be really hard to remember our larger goals and wishes, especially when we have learned to be placated with bad news, untrustworthy information and massively unequal and unfair living conditions.

This project asks all participants to uphold a forceful optimism: we will survive better together.

Giving, Complicating reciprocity

Giving without the need for reciprocal exchange is something we all benefit from and we all do, but not always with the same people. But in spite of the fact this is central to our lives, it’s hard to see and trust because our brains are so patterned by our experience of capitalism that insists that all value comes from competitive or at least equivalent exchange. We feel compelled to give, or even guilty if we don’t reciprocate. This is a big, gross pattern.

This notion of giving without expecting (it in the same way) is really profound to me. Giving and not expecting to relinquishing your own needs to receive care too, but not expecting it in the same way. Not only trusting but also organising your experience of the world to be that way.

If time is money

All this warm-punk, heart-dwelling, emotional practice might be critiqued as whimsical from the inner perspective of the daily economic agenda, she recognises this specifically and calls upon us to break free from it.

“capitalism is, among other things, a brilliant technology of weaponized avoidance”

If time is money, then being the hologram, or participating in a Hologram, is like burning money. It’s a sacrifice that reveals your divestment from the accelerationist value system. Through the sacrifice we become different animals that can survive and see beyond the current economic landscape. If we use this collective work as an excuse to disentangle from capitalism’s way of valuing our time, and of valuing us, we may begin to see what we are or what we could become without it

And who doesn’t want to participate in prescient post-scarcity rituals?

I’ve been hopefully talking to people about entering the future of a post monetary value economy, towards a greater value of community capital amd community resilience. This is a great example.

if we don’t begin to construct some ideas and practices that will shape our future in ways that serve us then tech corporations, banks, right-wing governments and other anti-social saboteurs will have a complete run of it.

Feminine economics

I wonder what a post-individualist feminist economy looks like, and if I can be trusted to imagine it?

I associate feminist economics with a kind of collective experience that could reconstitute our idea and experience of risk. Instead of constantly risking everything to survive as individuals economically, we might use our energy to take risks to make collective experiences of steadfast and deep solidarity, wherein success is measured differently—outside of GDP or income bracket.

the free market economy teaches you (and your family unit, if you have one) that you are the only thing you have and the only thing that matters. It is only by overturning that idea in practice that you can really begin to restructure yourself and the economy. But there is almost nothing harder than coming up against the wall: financial capital and all of its laws, social cues and morals. This coming up against the wall—alone, which keeps us from care, from home and from each other is making us sick.

The Hologram as a practice

The Hologram aims to train us to create and live in a post-capitalist future, when work (as in labor exploited for a wage) is abolished. We will still need to cooperate, but in new ways, motivated by the above truths, not the need for someone else to profit and for us all to compete. When liberated from being confined to a “job,” how would we express and share our passions, skills, powers and dreams? In post-capitalism, we will all contribute our time and energy, but likely in very different ways.

Of course, contrary to the new age, self-help industry’s suggestion, simply believing something doesn’t change reality, and that kind of individualism will only reproduce capitalism. Organizing and organization will be required, and we have the fight of our lives ahead of us.

If this resonates, read the book for the actual practice! https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745343327/the-hologram/