Soft Soap

Sculptor Aaron Dysart’s moving meditation here on the Mississippi River culminates in a hilarious Duchampian stunt.

The public health analogs are legion, stretching far beyond concepts in environmental thinking.

Many progressive efforts in global public health are organized around accepting the predicates of the problems the system to be fought imposes.

On the contrary, the boundaries of conceivable intervention extend beyond the soft soap the few respectable institutions allowed to address the crises are willing to risk as a solution. And certainly far outside state-sanctioned notions of social justice.

Many global health researchers–a networked elite, oft-bought, and structurally dishonest–know this full well. Any expectation they’d say so outside whispers in the airport lounge is another matter.

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2 Responses to “Soft Soap”

  1. The culminating thoughts in the video, and your response to it put me in mind of Levins’ essay “Preparing for Uncertainty” (1995. Ecosystem Health, 1(1):47–57). Robust strategies to address future uncertainty are likely to not put all the eggs in one basket, where “one basket” includes, among other things, “assuming a static nature of future threats”, “assuming that responses themselves will not present new threats,” “assuming a one-size fits all solution exists,” and “assuming that solutions are to address a single kind of threat.”

  2. rgwallace Says:

    You make an excellent point, Alexis. It begs whether neoliberal regimes that structurally adjust their health responses down to emergency responses must at first take view the world in only the most literal sense. The threat doesn’t exist until it hits (certain populations anyway) or as long as the political clock on it hasn’t run out. Bird flu’s crisis moment passed even as new variants continue to accumulate. Even the resilience ideas you referenced have been increasingly reappropriated for protecting the economics that drive many a global health and environmental crisis. But if, on the other hand, pillaging public goods is the prime directive, separating economy from ecology, then the organizing principle orbits about the most hallucinogenic sophistry the world has ever known. Even more so than civilizations that worshiped gods with the heads of an ibis or jackal or elephantine ganeshs waving multiple arms.

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