I started conceptualizing ‘Industry Standards’, S1X’s first collection a few months ago when I was still swimming in the residue of the old world, imagining what would, and could, rise out of the ashes. It was the beginning of the pandemic, we were all processing, and subconsciously maybe even grieving, the end of an era. Something told us we wouldn’t go on as we had before — that we would have to change and re-build. The world had snapped, and sent us to our rooms to have a think.
When it comes to our collective consciousness, our moral compass as a worldly entity, we are awfully far from acceptable. We shield ourselves from grotesque truths to allow us to breathe in the liberty we only hold at the expense of others and our planet’s future. How can it be that nine million people die from hunger or hunger-related disease a year, while millions basque in a kind of luxury and comfort that would have been entirely unimaginable to humanity merely a few decades back? The inequality that exists is unforgivable, and the question that remains is where the problem lies — is it that we can’t change, or that we don’t want to change?
I would like to hold conviction in a belief that humanity evolves for the better — that we learn from our mistakes, we incrementally create collective depth and understanding, and that we are on a journey of progression. I’d like to believe that the majority of people would make the right decision actively, but modern history and the rise of so much evil power in recent years doesn’t make that a particularly easy belief to hold. A few months ago, before Covid-19 had crept into our lives but after our knowledge of its looming existence, and before the world watched the murder of George Floyd by someone with the government sanctioned mandate to protect people, I was having lunch with my father, discussing Trump’s endorsement of the withdrawing of the American-backed Kurdish forces near the border in Syria. It felt like the tipping point, my father observing out loud how this is the first time in his life he has seen the world in such a terrifying condition.
Malcolm Gladwell defines the ‘tipping point’ as the moment in time when the unexpected becomes expected, where radical change is more than a possibility. It is contrary to all expectations — a reality. I hope with all my heart, for the sake of an even remotely decent future for humankind, that we’re now at the tipping point. That the rise of Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orban, and others who, day after day, choose power over a human life, has been a dark blessing in disguise. Can we envisage it a possibility, that the forces of the universe were given no choice but to add a pandemic and the brutal killing of a man due to the color of his skin, in order to drive this radical change? That we needed to drive ourselves to the ground in order to truly re-build, re-invent, and re-value how this all works. And by this, I mean everything from industry, to systems of power, our attitudes towards the environment, refugees, borders, and the active confrontation of systemic racism in all corners of the world.
As I write this, I feel a certain sense of directionless and loss of thread in this text with the turmoil of my emotions. ‘Industry Standards’ was meant to ask the questions around change, confront our paradoxical existence, and shed light on some interpretations. It still feels incomplete for me — I am overwhelmed with the dichotomy of the macro and micro, of the collective and the individual, the lightness and the weight. In the The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera explores the lightness vs. weight dichotomy in context with the idea of eternal return, calling this opposition the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all.
“If the French Revolution were to recur eternally, French historians would be less proud of Robespierre. But because they deal with something that will not return, the bloody years of the Revolution have turned into mere words, theories, and discussions, have become lighter than feathers, frightening no one. There is an infinite difference between a Robespierre who occurs only once in history and a Robespierre who eternally recurs, chopping off French heads.”
I’m afraid we cannot truly change because history, with time, reforms into theories and books that we can consume, understand, and discuss with lightness regardless of how brutal and full of weight they were in reality. I want to dissect the concept of change, come to an internal conclusion of how capable we are of it, and express my findings with a welcomed level of optimism. But for now I have to leave it open-ended. I will urge reflection and active recognition of this paradox, hoping that can bring us one step closer to forcing the radical change we should all be desperate for.