Nice question Cole Nakatani!
I appreciate, also, the provocations in umair’s essay. I highlighted a bunch! But there’s something a little too facile in writing off the hierarchies of social infrastructure as failed cultural Marxism — the two are not necessarily synonymous. And it’s questionable judgment to use Muslims as a negative example in the current anti-Islamic atmosphere. Why not do the intellectual labor to find another illustrative case?
My main worry, though, is that I know (what feels like) bizillions of happy white folk whose optimism is essentially a product of the comforts of whiteness. These Uppers are, despite genuine concern and even urgency to redress wrongs, very often wrapped in bubbles of cluelessness, or have only one or a mere few ‘exotic’ exposures to real human/sociocultural difference.
Probably someone more art and history savvy than me could generate a contribution list of notable achievements by so-called Downers. Even further, there’s a temporal twist in the logic of umair’s argument — -some of the failed ideologies were, in their day, the absolute cutting edge….hmmm — it occurs to me that this proposal to divide humans based on temporal orientation, to the future rather than the past, is completely artificial and therefore misleading?
I’m really thinking out loud now!
Here’s the thing: I’m all about thinking about how present action may play out into the future, but what informs choice is knowledge of past patterns. Both future and past collapse (think quantum physics) in the now.
So, if I can loop back around to umair’s essential
Or do I ‘retreat’ by focusing solely on critique?
Is that the difference between being an Upper or a Downer? (Sounds like a reformulation of Left/Right…but maybe we haven’t invented language to clarify this alternative axis?)
Last point, the Japanese (so I understand) conceive of time on a horizontal plane, forward and backward, rather than the vertical up/down. Not only this, but what’s ahead of the body is actually the past: what one can see! Imagine ourselves backing into the unknown future…these are different skills of navigating than the full-on eyes wide open plunge (!) into the future which might be implied by an Upper ideology.
Dividing people based on how they navigate seems (again, ack!) problematic. So gee, I guess I just wrote myself into a circle?!