Los Angeles is a city that should not exist. No desert was meant to hold an urban hub of this size. As its fifteen year (we may as well call it permanent) state of drought confirms, it is a non-location, a place that that manages to weirdly persist due to simple inertia over sustainability. The wildfires that grow in size and intensity every season, ever-encroaching into La-La Land, are not only general reminders of a planet that will soon be too warm to contain the current civilization; they feel like deep time retching up a virus contracted long ago. That it is also where the United States manufactures its ego, its own version of cultural relevance, is only too appropriate, as the recent burning of Malibu makes so very clear.
To say that humanity is alienated isn't just to state the painfully obvious. It is to describe a truth that applies so thoroughly, and to everything in human existence, that it almost describes nothing. We are alienated from ourselves, each other, our labor, our human-made and natural environments. We are, as Marx observed, not ourselves when we work. And as the logic of work as exploitation insinuates itself deeper into all aspects of life, we wonder, can we ever truly be ourselves?