Issue #41 The End of Neonationalism: On The Comparative Certainty of Extraterrestrial Life and its Significance for Humankind (Earth and the Solar System Sectio

The End of Neonationalism: On The Comparative Certainty of Extraterrestrial Life and its Significance for Humankind (Earth and the Solar System Section)

Khalil Rabah

Issue #41
January 2013

Nearly 4.6 billion years ago, within a vast cloud of interstellar space, a small pocket of gas and dust collapsed under its own gravity and our solar system was born. As part of this system, our Earth is always in flux and is constantly remolded by powerful forces. These forces can often appear as sudden and unexpected phenomena. Our popular Earth and Solar Systems Gallery displays rocks, sediments, meteorites, and volcanic debris, allowing visitors to explore the dynamic forces that formed and are continually reforming the Earth and our solar system.

Our most recent exhibition examines one such dynamic force: the sedimentation of chauvinist attitudes resulting from the misrecognition of similar creatures as otherwise. This fetish of difference, wherein the slightest superficial irresemblence is made to obscure the overwhelming truth of HUMANKIND’s natural solidarity, appears as a force of nature. The less verifiable difference there is, the more aggressively the remainder is mobilized against the conscious recognition of a scientific fact: that the Earth is home to a single human community.

PALESTINE—as the name of a place that is unavailable where it exists, a pastime that is also the future—is also the name of the absent self-consciousness of HUMANKIND, its NATURAL HISTORY.

As detailed knowledge of the cosmos increases day by day, it has become a relative certainty that other life exists outside of our solar system. This realization, as it disseminates, ought perhaps to have a clarifying effect. Our exhibit anticipates this revelation, asking after its real, material ramifications. Someday, when the blazing sun fills the streets with the color of blood, the Earth will be brand new, never before seen, not like this. The stones, piled up where we lived, will have a meaning, and they will have been put there for no other reason but to explain it. This Earth on which we have lived and with whose good people we have spent years of defeat will be something new. It is just a beginning. HUMANKIND doesn’t know why. HUMANKIND imagined that the main street on the way back home was only the beginning of a long, long road. Everything on this Earth throbs with a sadness that is not confined to weeping. It is a challenge.

No, my friend, we won’t leave, and we have no regrets. No. And nor will we finish what we began together in childhood. This obscure feeling that you had as you left, this small feeling must grow into a giant one, deep within you. It must expand; you must seek it in order to find yourself, here among the ugly debris of defeat. We won’t come to you. But you must return to us! Come back, to learn what life is and what existence is worth. We are all waiting for you.

Evidence 21 [ BDc/21G1995], Earth and the Solar System Department Collection
Museology, Human - Nonhuman Relations, Middle East, Planet Earth, The Cosmos
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From the 2011 issue of THE PALESTINIAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY AND HUMANKIND NEWSLETTER, the departure point for Khalil Rabah’s exhibition “Pages 7, 8, 9,” on view at e-flux in New York from February 2–April 20, 2013.

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