Theory Fiction

Theory Fiction
M1/M2
English

Kodwo Eshun
Start: 30 September 2019, 10am

Project Earthseed

The Theory-Fiction Seminar for 2019 to 2020 continues its ongoing engagement with the writings of the African American science fiction novelist Octavia Estelle Butler. The Project Earthseed Seminar 2019 to 2020 departs from a reading of Octavia Butler’s 1993 novel The Parable of the Sower. Set in the ‘accidentally coinciding climatic, economic, and sociological crises’ of the year 2024, The Parable of the Sower’s teenage protagonist Lauren Olamina keeps a diary in which she writes aphorisms and epigraphs that provide the tenets of a new religion that she names Earthseed. As the social collapse of life on the West Coast of North America forces Lauren to leave her home, the imperilled refugees that she meets on the road, Earthseed’s instructions bind these fugitives into a group oriented towards a future whose goal guides their actions in the present.
The aim of the Project Earthseed Seminar is to approach the fiction of Earthseed as an interscalar vehicle to be actualised in the present of 2019 to 2020. At its most abstracted and generalised scale, the Seminar seeks to mobilise the prospective imagination of Earthseed of 2024 by and with and through the format of a media campaign that aims to intervene in the present defined by the compounded threats of capitalogenic climate catastrophe, neo-fascism and surveillance capitalism. At its most reduced and concretized scale, the Seminar seeks to market Earthseed as a secular religion in the contemporary era.
This entails an experiment with the engineering of belief within the Seminar as the precondition for the marketing of Earthseed within the precincts of the institution of HEAD. The ultimate aim of the Seminar is to enlist the various actors that constitute the preexisting communities of HEAD for the project of Earthseed by devising methods for engineering the desire for Earthseed. The style of those methods will be drawn from the reading of The Parable of the Sower which will provide the narrative vehicle required for the mobilization of a marketing campaign that seeks to engender network effects that will in turn act as a force multiplier for the binding of beliefs.
All participants in Project Earthseed are required to read The Parable of the Sower. Texts, moving images and sound recordings related to Project Earthseed will be
introduced throughout the first and second semester.