You Have Drones. We Have Stones.
Originally published as a part of the Murmuration: A Festival of Drone Culture, 2013
Usually understanding comes easily through fiction, which lubricates the process of internalizing something other. It requires a simple empathy from both the reader and the writer. An object, partially or wholly unfamiliar, becomes known by working itself inside the body through thought-sense and projective mimicry. One might crave this ‘lush submersion’ as an escape, a taming, a rabbit hole or relief, but not in this case.
Our adoption of satellite vision was an invisible nesting, a handing down of false dominance. We trusted in Aerial, the authoritative lady of display, to show us the world as it is. But here See is an unintended violation, a colonization. Bombs have been dropping before all of us knew. The same conditions are being carried forward yet they are presented, in the moment, as exceptionally specific, signature.
The swirling hum is an object. The sound has been amplified by millions of hobbyists in fields and yards. The almost invisible detached record is firmly implanted in each of us, affecting our geographical path and possible configurations each and every day. We know the innumerable lens flares in our peripheral vision, some of us our entire lives. We recognize that walls of skyscrapers and information centers are built from our own archived existence: labeled, ordered, analyzed, misrecognized.
The ever-programmed life fits nicely in the day-planner of the perpetual individual. To be willing to be called upon, to signal one’s present psyche, preferences, and cheerful location is now less an expression than an expectation. Be everywhere present without presence or your deviation will be met with suspicion and contempt.
These well-worn facets of bureaucratic technology fuse to establish another technical constellation – one that automates flight, recognition, archiving, and killing. Haven’t we integrated enough of these technocapitalist’s innovations? The acceptance of UAVs is not something we are willing to add to our weight. The present discourse circulates only a nationalist-partisan response. This version of discursivity is hostile to our existence, this is fixed capital par excellence.
Abolition is absent in policy and debate, only maybe present in the deliverance of earth. Trying to save ourselves through cohesion is a slow loss. To the new nationalists: Gravity defies political configuration, and stone is much more forgiving than the state.
Drones, male honeybees, are left to die each winter. Once they fulfill their function, they’re locked out of the hive. They slow in the cold and eventually die. The complex of technologies we call drone is easing our lives and bodies into uselessness inventing necessity for perpetual consul jobs we would prefer not to. What can be left to die? (Only the capitalized words behind the flag.)
As economies build further the fleet without content, we are made expressly aware of the absent substance of singularity. Not all drones have a payload. There is violence just in the automation – a hardening of subjects, a fixing of positions and possibilities. Soon the apparatus will recognize everything, but no one.
The algorithmic proliferation of exchange, money, and surveillance cannot continue to appeal to popular morality. Cracks are showing. The state realizes its own precarity, it can’t continue to use the force of poverty and political cynicism to further its goals of domination; drone is the easiest sound to make.
Tactics for integration are being deployed. The way the world appears now, here, is a drama we’re coming to know through drones, phones, and silicon voices. As dads around the suburbs build hobby kits with their entrepreneurial spirit and weird pride, we have to cite power in the myth channels. There will be men leering remotely, (there already are). There will be craft brews dropped into backyard parties of those that deserve less. There will be cops everywhere.
Most young children resist becoming subjects. They re-shape when recognition becomes a habit. They can’t live in another world, but some see what’s valorized in this one and are unimpressed. Determined to concoct a different possibility, they cast off that which is alienating, but not what is alien. We are born as outlaws and in a drone’s vision we are all already recognized as such. Might as well quietly paint our faces, sew heat-resistant clothing, and dazzle the drones with camouflage and rock.