Context Conflicts

A philosophy of dust

A context conflict is the name I give to the situation that arises when one thing is removed from its birthplace or immediate context and then placed in a new environment. African slaves being brought to Europe and America is one such historical example, but there are many, and they are not limited to physical objects. Another example is thousands of gallons of crude oil pumped into the ocean. Zoos provide an example of collective context conflicts, as not only do zoos harbour many non-native species, but they also group together many animals that would not otherwise be found together, humans included. Language itself is the subject of a more subtle context conflict when learned later in life, or as a foreign tongue. Even ideas can cause context conflicts when different cultures and minds interact and intermingle, which is the case when we read books, particular old ones. The term ‘culture shock’ is a direct reference to the context conflict created through our ability to travel long distances in short periods of time. Space exploration, certain traditions, religion, technology, photographs, museums, house plants and swimming pools are all further examples of similar conflicts.

The hipster is not the king (that would be too conventional), but the archduke of the context conflict, as one of his characteristics is the desire to deliberately create context conflicts, particularly visual ones, which is why the power of a hipster is nullified in the presence of multiple hipsters.

Strangely enough, many environmental issues can be seen as context conflicts: mercury in fish, carbon monoxide in the air, corexit and oil in the sea, domestic waste in the ground, and so on.

Context conflicts are often visually compelling, intellectually awkward, physically odd or just plain inconvenient.

Waiter! There’s a fly in my soup.