How to conceive the notion of domesticity in a digital nomad environment?
Heading West, in an AI-driven caravan, Marcella, and Paul, accompanied by Paul’s feline friend, Buttercup – are setting off on a cross country road trip via a newly released air bnb ‘on wheels’. The vehicle slows for Lisa to board, the last member of the guests list.
DigiVan2000: Welcome aboard Lisa! Time of arrival 7:30 pm
Lisa enters the van lugging an enormous backpack up the steps with a smile on her face. She enters and sees Marcella and Paul sitting comfortably on a large sofa.
Marcella: Hey Lisa, I’m Marcella, pleasure to meet you! ready for the trip?
Lisa: Hi Marcella, the pleasure is all mine. I’m always ready, that’s the beauty of being a digital nomad.
Her focus shifts to the man working intently on his laptop and says.
Lisa: … and who might you be?
Paul shifts his eyes up from the laptop.
Paul: Hey there! The names, Paul. My apologies. Back home, I’m a professor and the emails are endless… What brings you here?
She drops her backpack to the floor and takes a seat.
Lisa: Well it’s a long story… “It’s been a year since my partner left me: I closed my life and my anxieties again in a few handfuls of cardboard boxes, I looked for a house, and I went to live elsewhere.”(1) I used to love being back at home , but these days it’s different.
Marcella: So you’re now on a new journey to find yourself… Or a new house?
Lisa: Maybe both. But I am not afraid of moving again. I dont allow a house to define me.
Lisa shifts in her seat..
Lisa: In fact the concept of domesticity and belonging is problematic in itself..
Paul: How come?
Lisa: As you may know “Domestication has another etymological meaning and that is taming. This is somewhat different from the subtle, almost invisible cultural pressures to assume scripted roles” (2)
Paul: Ah.. I see. You know, Lisa, “The entities of the environment are nothing but knots in this web, and we ourselves are knots of the same sort.” (3) Maybe you find Domesticity as a knot in your way of life… It’s like these nodes on a cloud network, they define the data….
Buttercup jumps from the corner in front of Lisa.
Lisa: No way! Why is there a cat here?
Paul: Ah I see, you’ve met buttercup, she usually lives at home, but I can’t sleep knowing she is away from me…
Marcella: I’m happy she’s on this journey with us.. I never got the chance to have a cat due to my profession…-it’s a nice hybrid environment.
Paul: I also feel like “We are becoming like cats, slyly parasitic, enjoying an indifferent domesticity. Nice and snug in the social, our historic passions have withdrawn into the glow of an artificial coziness, and our half-closed eyes now seek little other than the peaceful parade of television pictures.” (4)
DigiVan2000: Your food has been heated. Please remove from the microwave.
Paul: Everything in this kitchen is organic. The airbnb host grows all the veggies themself.
Lisa: Fascinating, “The education I received had huge gaps in everything related to self-care and autonomy.” (5) So I barely spent any time cooking for myself.
Marcella: Same for me. Though, this gives me the opportunity to try different cuisines around the world and adapt to the place, during my travels.
The conversation continued as they finished up dinner
Paul: Well, the food was delicious. I need to go get some rest, tomorrow is a big day!
Lisa: Ah finally! I can’t wait to get some sleep.
Lisa, Marcella, and Paul grab their stuff and go to bed.
The group wakes to the jerk of breaks and the sounds of a warning message.
DigiVan2000: Crash detected, updated time of arrival… – 46 hours 28 minutes
The group decides to step out and take a look at what’s going on…
Paul: Life on the road… At least we got this van.
Noticing the traffic barely moving, they grabbed some camping chairs from storage and pulled out the awning off the side of the vehicle.
Paul: Starting to look a bit like home!
A rumbling voice shouts from a few cars back.
Roger: “That’s no home!”
Lisa jokingly remarks
Lisa: “Get off my Lawn!”
Roger takes a slow drag on his cigarette and grumbles:
Roger: “If you’re calling this a real home then ‘we’ve definitely lost our faith and trust in the solidity of things and in the materiality of the world.’” (6)
Lisa: Paul you seem like a reasonable old man, can you help me out here?
Paul: “The idea of home isn’t so simple anymore, it has expanded it’s horizons with the digital age, ‘the virtual hearth of the cloud offers a different kind of warmth, where connections and conversations become the threads that weave the fabric of our modern domesticity.’” (7)
Lisa: Woah woah woah, look at the professor go…
Marcella: “There is no one right way to do domesticity. What matters is that we find ways to create homes and families that work for us.” (8)
Roger’s lane advances up to the caravan and he steps out of his vehicle to join the group,
Roger: “We need to reclaim our lives from the digital world. We need to spend more time with our families and friends in the real world, and less time staring at screens.” (9)
Marcella: Relax… “Domesticity is not a fixed destination, but rather a journey. It is constantly evolving to meet the needs of changing times.” (10)
Looks over to Lisa
Marcella: While we’re on the subject, have you read the book Southern Thruway, by Julio Cortazar? They were stuck in a traffic jam just like us.
Lisa: I haven’t, what does it say?
Marcella: It’s an interesting book, it mentions how “The weekend is a chance to escape the everyday, but in that escape, we find the essence of ourselves.”
Lisa nods hesitantly
Lisa: Anyway…. How do you think you’re going to make your lecture happen tomorrow, Paul?
Paul: Well, Thank god for Zoom! These days there’s “The digital alternative—free, with its avatars, algorithmic inventiveness, its ninjas jumping from roof to roof and its miracles of networking—lured one with the hope for the being-online and its thrilling lightness. (11)
Lisa: And what would you call this, Zoom Domesticity?
Paul: I guess you call it that, the possibilities are endless in the world of cloud technology. I have a few minutes before class starts, what’s your take on the matter, Roger?
Roger: I believe, “The fundamental characteristic of technology is that it was never satisfied with completing what nature could not carry out. It has always wanted to be something else, to be nature in itself, standing independently of any purpose other than its own, remaining ever irreducible to a natural set of means and mediations.” (12)
Paul: Okay, okay, let me assure you, “The digital world is not a replacement for the real world.” (13) Technology is giving every user further reach and access than ever before.
Roger: “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” — (14)
Paul, Lisa and Marcella laugh at this remark.
The caravan´s lane continues to advance, the Mustang behind horns at them to move up a bit.
Paul: He probably wants to join the couple playing chess up there. Why don’t you join us inside, Roger?
Inside the DigiVan2000, the group continue their conversation about evolving homes and domesticity in the digital age.
Paul takes a seat in the corner, puts on his headphones, and starts his class.
The group enters the caravan.
Paul: Good morning, how’s everyone doing today?
Lisa: I bet the guy on the right is still wearing his pajamas.
Lisa comments sarcastically
Marcella: Looks like he woke up 5 minutes ago.
Roger: Are these real people or … I’m not really getting what’s going on over here?
Marcella and lisa laugh silently.
Lisa: Of course they are real! Imagine it’s a virtual classroom and all his students are able to be here while in the comfort of their homes.
Marcella: “the boundless space of the internet.” (15) Isn’t it funny, how within a few minutes, the nature of our domesticity has transformed, just like a cloud?
Lisa: You sound so naive, I just don’t get how the world has accepted “the death of privacy and the end of freedom.” (16)
Marcella: I mean in everything that just transpired, our domesticity has been like a cloud, shifting based on the need of the hour. We are all digital nomads interacting in unique ways. Not only humans but animals, plants…anything that exists on this planet.
Roger: Wait a minute, what are you guys even getting a—
A series of loud horns cuts through the conversation.
Roger: Well, Folks looks like the traffic is moving, I think it’s time for me to get out of this… cloud caravan…
The old man chuckles and steps out the door.
The group of travelers settled into their seats and the journey continued.
Original Post: https://readymag.com/u4225448488/4450601/
(1) Emanuele Coccia Philosophy of the House: The House beyond the city. Focus chapter Kitchen page 4. (paraphrased)
(2) Oxford English Dictionary (1971) page 593.
(3) Flusser, Fluss/er Circle-Spiral-Coud, page 6.
(4) Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (1981)
(5) Emanuele Coccia Philosophy of the House: The House beyond the city. Chapter Kitchen page 7
(6) Rainer Guldin, Fluss/er Circle – Spiral – Cloud – page 10
(7) Digital Dreamer, D.A. Jalloh
(8) Arlie Hochschild, The Second Shift (1989)
(9) Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985)
(10) Judith Stacey, In the Name of the Family (1996)
(11) Rainer Guldin, Fluss/er Circle – Spiral – Cloud – page 2
(12) Achille Mbembé, Focus the all world, page 102
(13) Tim Cook, Apple CEO Quote
(14) Edward Tufte from the Social Dilemma Documentary
(15) Suniti Namjoshi , Techno-Sag
(16) George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four, 1949
Arlie Hochschild, The Second Shift (1989)
Circle – Spiral – Cloud – Rainer Guldin
Digital Dreamer – D.A. Jalloh (Author)
Edward Tufte from The Social Dilemma Documentary)
Focus the all world – Achille Mbembé,the earthly community
(Chapter 4 – Crossing the mirror)
Focus the all world – Achille Mbembé,the earthly community
(Chapter 5 – The Last Utopia)
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation (1981)
Judith Stacey, In the Name of the Family (1996)
Navigation or Filtration (Vilém Flusser and the vampiric alternative of the digital imaginary) – Yves Citton
Philosophy of the house – Emanuele Coccia
Quote by Tim Cook, Apple CEO
South Highway – Julio Cortázar
Techno-Sage – Suniti Namjoshi
WU, 1993, original emphasis)