Relapse Report

Let me tell you first, how proud I am of everything we’ve done already.

It never ceases to amaze me when I wake up in the morning and look out the window.

I mean, wow! We’ve made it. We’re living the impossible.

A whole new world is emerging that I never even dared to hope for.

I thought we were doomed. That it was the end.
It’s unreal that we’re still here.
Still here and thriving.

Who knew we had it in us to come together like this?
The things we’ve made happen together!


“I feel like I can finally breathe now,” Mary tells me.
“I feel alive in ways I never did before. Like I can really be myself.”

Do I feel like I can breathe freely? Like I can be myself?
Not really.
A piece of the old world seems to be stuck in me and it’s pulling me back.

“It’s ok not to be perfect,” Mary smiles.
“It’s not about being perfect anymore. Or even good enough.
What matters is that you have a kind heart. That you care for what we have now.”

I do care for what we have now. This new world.
And I want to be part of its making. More than anything.
But I feel like I don’t belong here.

I’m a creature of the old world. A creature of old habits.
My thoughts, my dreams are giving me away.

“They’re just bad dreams,” Mary consoles me.
But she’s wrong.

It’s not enough to be loved and appreciated for who I am when I’m having these dreams... these thoughts. I want more. Much more.
I want everything, or nothing. I want to rise above.

These fantasies, I’m aware, are violent fantasies.
They can bring nothing but destruction.
I know the consequences. We’ve lived through that catastrophe.
But I’m falling for them anyway. They thrill and excite me.
Nothing compares to how they make me feel.
It’s in these dreams that I feel most alive.

How can I resist them?

It’s not that I’m not committed to this world.
I mean it when I say that I’m proud of it and excited for it.
But it’s perhaps too good for me.
I’m a bad guy. I don’t have a kind heart.
I don’t fit in.

I was born to live in a mean world.
I was made to be mean... to survive in a mean world.
I used to hate the old world and the old world hated me.
But it felt like home.
Here, I don’t belong here.
I should have disappeared with the old world; should have been buried with it.

Sorry, Mary, but I’m nothing like you.

I never had hope. I didn’t believe that this world was possible.
I used to poke fun at my friends who dreamt about it and strived to enact it.
I called them fools.

How I wish they were here with us now.
Having the last laugh.
It’s me who was wrong, after all.
Guilty of not daring to dream big enough.
Guilty of having no hope... of giving up.
Guilty of thinking that we can only thrive at the expense of others.
That we can’t all be winners.
The survival of the fittest.
The meanest.
People like me used to call it progress and believed that we had to progress.
That it was our nature to progress... to grow... to develop.
That it was natural law. Like gravity. That there was no other way.
Indeed, it’s unfair that I’m standing here now rather than them.
I didn’t struggle with them for this to happen.
I don’t deserve it.

Can’t you see that, Mary?


I’m relapsing into the old ways.
I’m slipping back into old behaviors and losing sight of what matters.
And I’m scared.
I’m scared that I lose control, that I start to act on my fantasies.
I’m scared of what I’m capable of.

But I keep telling myself that I’m not a lost cause.
That I can change who I am.
Who I want to be.
What I care for, whom I care for.

So, I’m reaching out.
I want to get help.
I want to get over my addiction to the old ways of thinking... old ways of living.

I want to get better for this new world, this new becoming.

I want to get better for you, Mary.

And for those of you who, like me, are stuck in the old ways and looking to overcome them. My fellow addicts...

About

Our story is set in the not-so-distant future after progress. After the decision was made to pull the emergency brake and prevent the catastrophe, the process has begun of assembling a new world out of the ruins of the old one. Relapse report is an account of a person living in this emergent world, reporting relapse into the old ways of thinking. The story marks the drug-like effect of the notion of progress — its addictiveness and irresistibility, making us crave it even if we are aware of its false promises and catastrophic consequences. With our story we ask: What makes us desire progress? What would happen to our desire for individual progress in an alternatively organized world? And what to desire instead, if we truly want to enact the world after progress?

Contributor bios

Lenka Veselá is a PhD researcher at the Department of Theory and History of Art at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Brno, Czech Republic. Her research concerns “synthetic bodies” (bodies manipulated by technological interventions and responding to technologically transformed environments) and “synthetic bodies of knowledges” (knowledges synthesized across different sites). Lenka is a member of an international feminist collective researching hormones and hormone-mimicking chemicals. Recent publications include “Hormonal Design: Synthetic Sex Hormones and the Management of Living” https://vvp.avu.cz/novinky/sesit-pro-umeni-teorii-a-pribuzne-zony-27/ and “Artistic Research as Academic Borderlands” https://www.jar-online.net/artistic-research-academic-borderlands.
Kremena Dimitrova is a London based illustrator-as-historian, storyteller and lecturer specialising in visualising history. She uses a mixture of creative traditional and digital methods to bring to light marginalised, hidden and side-lined histories in the museum and heritage sectors. Kremena is conducting an interdisciplinary practice-based PhD at the University of Portsmouth which examines the combined effects of historical and creative ways of knowing the past of enslavement. Her research is situated in comics studies. Kremena is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Social History Society and Amuse Experiences: Bespoke Museum and Gallery Experiences with the Experts. www.kremenadimitrova.com