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180 Gs. 180 d'Gs to the Future: The Music of Negativland as Performed by the 180 Gs, Seeland Records, 2007
180 Gs. 180 d'Gs to the Future: The Music of Negativland as Performed by the 180 Gs, Seeland Records, 2007
[1945] Shadows of people and ladders printed on the walls by the heat rays of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, fotografia/photo, in Asahi Graph, edição 6 Agosto/August 1952 issue
[1945] Shadows of people and ladders printed on the walls by the heat rays of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, fotografia/photo, in Asahi Graph, edição 6 Agosto/August 1952 issue
[1945] Shadows of people and ladders printed on the walls by the heat rays of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, fotografia/photo, in Asahi Graph, edição 6 Agosto/August 1952 issue
[1945] Shadows of people and ladders printed on the walls by the heat rays of the Nagasaki atomic bomb, fotografia/photo, in Asahi Graph, edição 6 Agosto/August 1952 issue
[1945] Berlim, Julho de 1945/Berlin, July 1945, montagem realizada com material de arquivo/collage of archive material prod. por/by CHRONOS-MEDIA GmbH, Potsdam, 07:04 mins. 2015
[1945] Berlim, Julho de 1945/Berlin, July 1945, montagem realizada com material de arquivo/collage of archive material prod. por/by CHRONOS-MEDIA GmbH, Potsdam, 07:04 mins. 2015
[1945] Berlim, Julho de 1945/Berlin, July 1945, montagem realizada com material de arquivo/collage of archive material prod. por/by CHRONOS-MEDIA GmbH, Potsdam, 07:04 mins. 2015
ABU ALI, Mustafa. They Do Not Exist, film, 04:20 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1974
ABU ALI, Mustafa. They Do Not Exist, film, 04:20 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1974
ABU ALI, Mustafa. They Do Not Exist, film, 04:20 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1974
ADAMS, Henry. [1904] The Education of Henry Adams. Ed. Ira B. Nadel, Oxford University Press, 1999, pp.460-461

The railways alone approached the carnage of war; automobiles and fire-arms ravaged society, until an earthquake became almost a nervous relaxation.

The Education of Henry Adams

Henry Adams

Thought had more than once been upset, but never caught and whirled about in the vortex of infinite forces. Power leaped from every atom, and enough of it to supply the stellar universe showed itself running to waste at every pore of matter. Man could no longer hold it off. Forces grasped his wrists and flung him about as though he had hold of a live wire or a runaway automobile; which was very nearly the exact truth for the purposes of an elderly and timid single gentleman in Paris, who never drove down the Champs Elysees without expecting an accident, and commonly witnessing one; or found himself in the neighborhood of an official without calculating the chances of a bomb. So long as the rates of progress held good, these bombs would double in force and number every ten years.
Impossibilities no longer stood in the way. One’s life had fattened on impossibilities. Before the boy was six years old, he had seen four impossibilities made actual—the ocean-steamer, the railway, the electric telegraph, and the Daguerreotype; nor could he ever learn which of the four had most hurried others to come. He had seen the coal-output of the United States grow from nothing to three hundred million tons or more. What was far more serious, he had seen the number of minds, engaged in pursuing force—the truest measure of its attraction—increase from a few scores or hundreds, in 1838, to many thousands in 1905, trained to sharpness never before reached, and armed with instruments amounting to new senses of indefinite power and accuracy, while they chased force into hiding-places where Nature herself had never known it to be, making analyses that contradicted being, and syntheses that endangered the elements. No one could say that the social mind now failed to respond to new force, even when the new force annoyed it horribly. Every day Nature violently revolted, causing so-called accidents with enormous destruction of property and life, while plainly laughing at man, who helplessly groaned and shrieked and shuddered, but never for a single instant could stop. The railways alone approached the carnage of war; automobiles and fire-arms ravaged society, until an earthquake became almost a nervous relaxation. An immense volume of force had detached itself from the unknown universe of energy, while still vaster reservoirs, supposed to be infinite, steadily revealed themselves, attracting mankind with more compulsive course than all the Pontic Seas or Gods or Gold that ever existed, and feeling still less of retiring ebb.

ADORNO, Theodor. [1951] De Gustibus Est Disputandum, in Minima Moralia, Verso, 2005. pp. 75–76

Beauty, as single, true and liberated from appearance and individuation, manifests itself not in the synthesis of all works, in the unity of the arts and of art, but only as a physical reality: in the downfall of art itself. This downfall is the goal of every work of art, in that it seeks to bring death to all others. That all art aims to end art, is another way of saying the same thing.

De gustibus est disputandum

Theodor Adorno

De gustibus est disputandum. — Even someone believing himself convinced of the non-comparability of works of art will find him­self repeatedly involved in debates where works of art, and precisely those of highest and therefore incommensurable rank, are compared and evaluated one against the other. The objection that such con­siderations, which come about in a peculiarly compulsive way, have their source in mercenary instincts that would measure every­thing by the ell, usually signifies no more than that solid citizens, for whom art can never be irrational enough, want to keep serious reflection and the claims of truth far from the works. This com­ pulsion to evaluate is located, however, in the works of art themselves. So much is true: they refuse to be compared. They want to annihilate one another. Not without cause did the ancients reserve the pantheon of the compatible to Gods or Ideas, but obliged works of art to enter the agon, each the mortal enemy of each. The notion of a ‘pantheon of classicity’, as still entertained by Kierkegaard, is a fiction of neutralized culture. For if the Idea of Beauty appears only in dispersed form among many works, each one nevertheless aims uncompromisingly to express the whole of beauty, claims it in its singularity and can never admit its dispersal without annulling itself. Beauty, as single, true and liberated from appearance and individuation, manifests itself not in the synthesis of all works, in the unity of the arts and of art, but only as a physical reality: in the downfall of art itself. This downfall is the goal of every work of art, in that it seeks to bring death to all others. That all art aims to end art, is another way of saying the same thing. It is this impulse to self-destruction inherent in works of art, their innermost striving towards an image of beauty free of appearance, that is constantly stirring up the aesthetic disputes that are apparently so futile. While obstinately seeking to establish aesthetic truth, and trapping them­selves thereby in an irresoluble dialectic, they stumble on the real truth, for by making the works of art their own and elevating them to concepts, they limit them all, and so contribute to the destruction of art which is its salvation. Aesthetic tolerance that simply acknowledges works of art in their limitation, without breaking it, leads them only to a false downfall, that of a juxtaposition which denies their claims to indivisible truth.

AGAMBEN, Giorgio, [1970] The Man Without Content, transl. Georgia Albert, Stanford University Press, 1999, Chapter 10

The interruption of tradition, which is for us now a fait accompli, opens an era in which no link is possible between old and new, if not the infinite accumulation of the old in a sort of monstrous archive or the alienation effected by the very means that is supposed to help with the transmission of the old.

The Man Without Content

Giorgio Agamben

In a traditional system, culture exists only in the act of its transmission, that is, in the living act of its tradition. There is no discontinuity between past and present, between old and new, because every object transmits at every moment, without residue, the system of beliefs and notions that has found expression in it. To be more precise, in a system of this type it is not possible to speak of a culture independently of its transmission, because there is no accumulated treasure of ideas and precepts that constitute the separate object of transmission and whose reality is in itself a value. In a mythical traditional system, an absolute identity exists between the act of transmission and the thing transmitted, in the sense that there is no other ethical, religious, or aesthetic value outside the act itself of transmission.

An inadequation, a gap between the act of transmission and the thing to be transmitted, and a valuing of the latter independently of the former appear only when tradition loses its vital force, and constitute the foundation of a characteristic phenomenon of non-traditional societies: the accumulation of culture. For, contrary to what one might think at first sight, the breaking of tradition does not at all mean the loss or devaluation of the past: it is, rather, likely that only now the past can reveal itself with a weight and an influence it never had before. Loss of tradition means that the past has lost its transmissibility, and so long as no new way has been found to enter into a relation with it, it can only be the object of accumulation from now on. In this situation, then, man keeps his cultural heritage in its totality, and in fact the value of this heritage multiplies vertiginously.

However, he loses the possibility of drawing from this heritage the criterion of his actions and his welfare and thus the only concrete place in which he is able, by asking about his origins and his destiny, to found the present as the relationship between past and future.

For it is the transmissibility of culture that, by endowing culture with an immediately perceptible meaning and value, allows man to move freely toward the future without being hindered by the burden of the past. But when a culture loses its means of transmission, man is deprived of reference points and finds himself wedged between, on the one hand, a past that incessantly accumulates behind him and oppresses him with the multiplicity of its now indecipherable contents, and on the other hand a future that he does not yet possess and that does not throw any light on his struggle with the past. The interruption of tradition, which is for us now a fait accompli, opens an era in which no link is possible between old and new, if not the infinite accumulation of the old in a sort of monstrous archive or the alienation effected by the very means that is supposed to help with the transmission of the old. Like the castle in Kafka's novel, which burdens the village with the obscurity of its decrees and the multiplicity of its offices, the accumulated culture has lost its living meaning and hangs over man like a threat in which he can in no way recognize himself. Suspended in the void between old and new, past and future, man is projected into time as into something alien that incessantly eludes him and still drags him forward, but without allowing him to find his ground in it.

AGAMBEN, Giorgio, El hombre sin contenido [1970], Ediciones Áltera, 2005, p.172-174

ES

L'uomo senza contenuto

Giorgio Agamben

En un sistema tradicional, la cultura sólo existe en el acto de su transmisión, es decir, en el acto vivo de su tradición. Entre pasado y presente, entre viejo y nuevo, no hay solución de continuidad, porque cada objeto transmite a cada instante, sin residuos, el sistema de creencias y nociones que en él ha encontrado expresión. Para ser más precisos, en un sistema de este tipo no se puede hablar de una cultura independientemente de su transmisión, porque no existe un patrimonio acumulado de ideas y de preceptos que constituya al objeto separado de la transmisión y cuya realidad sea en sí misma un valor. En un sistema mítico-tradicional, entre acto de transmisión y cosa a transmitir existe una identidad absoluta, en el sentido de que no hay otro valor ético ni religioso ni estético que no sea el acto mismo de la transmisión.

Una inadecuación, una desviación entre acto de la transmisión y cosa a transmitir y una valorización de ésta última independientemente de su transmisión, solamente aparece cuando la tradición pierde su fuerza vital, y constituye el fundamento de un fenómeno característico de las sociedades no-tradicionales: la acumulación de cultura.

Al contrario de lo que puede parecer a primera vista, la ruptura de la tradición no significa de ninguna manera la pérdida o desvalorización del pasado, es más, probablemente sólo ahora el pasado se revele en cuanto tal, con un peso y una influencia antes desconocidos. En cambio, pérdida de la tradición significa que el pasado ha perdido su transmisibilidad y, hasta que no se encuentre una nueva forma de entrar en relación con él, sólo puede ser, a partir de ese momento, objeto de acumulación. En esta situación, el hombre, que conserva íntegramente su propia herencia cultural, e incluso el valor de ésta se multiplica vertiginosamente, sin embargo, pierde la posibilidad de extraer de ella el criterio de su acción y de su salud, y con ello el único lugar concreto en el que, interrogándose sobre sus orígenes y sobre su destino, le resulta posible fundar el presente como relación entre pasado y futuro. En efecto, es su transmisibilidad la que, al atribuirle a la cultura un sentido y un valor que se pueden percibir inmediatamente, permite al hombre moverse libremente hacia el futuro sin estar acosado por el peso de su propio pasado. Pero cuando una cultura pierde sus medios de transmisión, el hombre se encuentra falto de puntos de referencia y atrapado entre un pasado que se acumula incesantemente a sus espaldas y lo oprime con la multiplicidad de sus contenidos, convertidos en indescifrables, y un futuro que todavía no posee y que no le proporciona ninguna luz en su lucha contra el pasado. La ruptura de la tradición, que hoy, para nosotros, es un hecho consumado, abre una época en la que entre lo viejo y lo nuevo ya no hay ningún vínculo posible más que la infinita acumulación de lo viejo en una especie de archivo monstruoso o el extrañamiento provocado por el mismo medio que debería servir para su transmisión. Al igual que el castillo de Kafka, que se yergue imponente sobre el pueblo, con la oscuridad de sus decretos y la multiplicidad de sus oficinas, así la cultura acumulada ha perdido su significado vivo y oprime al hombre como una amenaza en la que no puede reconocerse de ninguna manera. Suspendido en el vacío, entre lo viejo y lo nuevo, entre el pasado y el futuro, el hombre es arrojado en el tiempo como en algo extraño que se le escapa incesantemente y que aun así lo arrastra hacia adelante sin encontrar en él su propio punto de consistencia.

ALEXIEVICH, Svetlana. [1997] Chernobyl Prayer, A Chronicle of the Future, Penguin Classics, transl. Anna Gunin and Arch Tait, 2016, pp.41-42

What is more, over the last hundred years people have begun to live longer, yet our lifespan is still tiny compared to the life of the radionuclides that have settled on our land.

Chernobyl Prayer, A Chronicle of the Future

Svetlana Alexievich

That’s right. We can’t catch up with reality.

Here is an example. We’re still using the old concepts of ‘near and far’, ‘them and us’. But what do ‘near’ and ‘far’ actually mean after Chernobyl, when, by day four, the fallout clouds were drifting above Africa and China? The earth suddenly became so small, no longer the land of Columbus’s age. That world was infinite. Now we have a different sense of space. We are living in a space that is bankrupt. What is more, over the last hundred years people have begun to live longer, yet our lifespan is still tiny compared to the life of the radionuclides that have settled on our land. Many of them will live for thousands of years. We can’t dream of even a glimpse of such a distant future! In their presence, you experience a new sense of time. And this is all Chernobyl, its imprint. The same thing is happening to our relationships with the past, science fiction, knowledge. The past has proved impotent, and all that is left of knowledge is an awareness of how little we know. [...]

Everything has changed, except us.

It takes at least fifty years for an event to become history, but here we have to follow the trail while it is still fresh.

The Zone. It is a world of its own. First it was invented by science-fiction authors, then literature gave way to reality. We cannot go on believing, like characters in a Chekhov play, that in a hundred years’ time mankind will be thriving. Life will be beautiful! We have lost that future. A hundred years on, we have had Stalin’s Gulags and Auschwitz. Chernobyl. And September 11 in New York. It is hard to comprehend how all this could happen within one generation, within the lifetime of my father, for example, who is now eighty-three years old. Yet he survived it!

What lingers most in my memory of Chernobyl is life afterwards: the possessions without owners, the landscapes without people. The roads going nowhere, the cables leading nowhere. You find yourself wondering just what this is: the past or the future.

It sometimes felt to me as if I was recording the future.

ALGEBRA SUICIDE. [1986], Little Dead Bodies, in Feminine Squared, 04:44 mins., Dark Entries, 2013
ALGEBRA SUICIDE. [1986], Little Dead Bodies, in Feminine Squared, 04:44 mins., Dark Entries, 2013
ALTHUSSER, Louis. [1986] Image from Althusser’s unpublished text, “Du matérialisme aléatoire” in Multitudes 21, no. 2, 2005. pp. 179-94
ALTHUSSER, Louis. [1986] Image from Althusser’s unpublished text, “Du matérialisme aléatoire” in Multitudes 21, no. 2, 2005. pp. 179-94
ALTHUSSER, Louis. [1986] Image from Althusser’s unpublished text, “Du matérialisme aléatoire” in Multitudes 21, no. 2, 2005. pp. 179-94
ALTHUSSER, Louis. [1986] Image from Althusser’s unpublished text, “Du matérialisme aléatoire” in Multitudes 21, no. 2, 2005. pp. 179-94
ALŸS, Francis. Francis Alÿs on his embedment with the Kurdish Army in Mosul, artforum.com, 9 Fevereiro/February 2017

The young Europeans did not live a war. All they know is through video games. They come here because they live war as a fiction.

Francis Alÿs on his embedment with the Kurdish Army in Mosul

Francis Alÿs

I AM AFRAID IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT to give a coherent account of my embedment with the Peshmerga, for it was anything but coherent. I arrived in Iraq on October 28 with the intention of documenting the displacements caused by the Mosul offensive against ISIS. Yet, for a series of tactical reasons, I instead found myself dropped somewhere along the fourteen-mile Iraqi Kurdistan military Peshmerga’s front line on the eastern flank of Mosul, with a small bag and no plan of action. At first, the stupefying reality of combat and the smell of terror nearby numbed me and frustrated any proper creative process. However, as I had to somehow make contact with my Peshmerga guardian angels, drawing turned out to be a providential way of communicating, plus it gave me the illusion of being part of the scene. Images started filling my notebook and words soon followed.

Fighting the jetlag, breaking the ice, waiting for the subjects to forgive my presence. Early night / foreground sound track of mobile phones playing Arab rap with background music of the US-led coalition bombardment.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Earthworks. The Peshmerga offensive is a massive engineering enterprise, a monumental Land art operation. Behind each platoon there is a bulldozer waiting. Every hundred meters of gained territory results in hundreds of tons of dry earth pushed forward, all in order to move the front line ever closer to the suburbs of Mosul. Landscape is refashioned daily by the shelling, ISIS’s tunnels are behind, under, and beyond our mobile front line; the dunes are scarred by the infinite lines of trenches while on the Syrian-Iraqi border ISIS’s bulldozers breach a passage through a hill to erase the Sykes–Picot Agreement’s fatal design.

The desert is no longer an exotic escape. It’s pure naked exposure. The closest to protection from the snipers is by running from one shadow to another.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In an era when any insignificant event is instantly public online—and governments are tapping millions of cell phones—how on earth is it possible that no intelligence whatsoever can tell us how many ISIS fighters are left in Mosul? There lies the power of terror.

Heard among the Peshmerga returning from a village they just freed: “This morning they were shooting at us; this afternoon they receive us with open arms, as if nothing had happened.”

Thinking of the Yazidi kids of the refugee camp near Dohuk I visited in February 2016. What can we tell to a child in the face of terror? In a child’s imagination, what is the image of terror? How can one make sense of terror to a child? How can one integrate the un-acceptable? Can a human tragedy be testified to by way of a fictional work?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

In the midst of gunfire the rain caught us all by surprise. What could the ISIS fighters possibly make of the rain? Strangely it brought us closer, we shared that moment. Did I film the rain?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Second day of trying to match on small canvases the colors of the scenes I’m witnessing in an attempt to coincide with the moment I am living—this is the abstraction of war within the spectacle of combat. Meanwhile, I watch a Peshmerga rushing to take a selfie on the background of an exploding rocket. The smiles of this war will be well kept in cell phones, in between photos of sweethearts and motorcycles. What happens in Mosul stays in Mosul.

The Mosul offensive is like the making of a movie: 90 percent waiting, 10 percent action. With tea and Turkish biscuits served in the intermezzo.

The white flags waved on the Mosul rooftops against the sky blacked out by the smoke provoked by the bombings.

In the absence of language, I miss the way in which talking helps to materialize an idea.

Furat (Iraqi friend filmmaker), referring to European ISIS volunteers: “The young Europeans did not live a war. All they know is through video games. They come here because they live war as a fiction.”

Figures
50,000 euros = classic bomb GBU-US
200,000 euros = missile AASM
600,000 euros = cruise missile SCALP
500 to 750 USD = daily pay of a private security contractor in Iraq
435 USD = monthly pay of a Peshmerga fighter

The disturbing beauty of counter-light explosions at dusk.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Quel est l’enjeu? What’s more absurd? When the Big Friendly General fires his cannon into the suburbs of Mosul to entertain the accompanying press, or when I play my commedia dell’arte in the face of terror? What does it mean to make art while Nimrud and Palmyra are being destroyed? If ISIS’s logic is “destroy to exist,” does it mean we ought to create in order to survive? Is art just a means of survival through the catastrophe of war? Do we live because we narrate? In classic Arab literature, poetry fixes things and fractures the past from the present. Within a situation of continuous conflict, does memory allow us to reinvent/reset ourselves and escape the vicious circle in which violence calls for more violence? “It’s not about turning your back, it’s about how you turn your back.” (Elias Khoury, Beirut, November 2015)

I against my brothers,
I and my brothers against my cousins,
I and my brothers and my cousins against the stranger.
(Arab saying)

 

— As told to Laura Hoffmann

ALŸS, Francis. Politics of Rehearsal, New York City, video, 29:23mins, 2005
ALŸS, Francis. Politics of Rehearsal, New York City, video, 29:23mins, 2005
ALŸS, Francis. Politics of Rehearsal, New York City, video, 29:23mins, 2005
ANKERSMIT, Thomas. Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, in Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, 34:31 mins., Shelter Press, 2018
ANKERSMIT, Thomas. Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, in Homage to Dick Raaijmakers, 34:31 mins., Shelter Press, 2018
ANONYMOUS, under the direction of the entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy. modelo à escala da Bastilha/scaled model of the Bastille, souvenir esculpido em pedra da Bastilha/souvenir made of stone from the Bastille, 37 X 95 X 98 cm, ca. 1789-1794
ANONYMOUS, under the direction of the entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy. modelo à escala da Bastilha/scaled model of the Bastille, souvenir esculpido em pedra da Bastilha/souvenir made of stone from the Bastille, 37 X 95 X 98 cm, ca. 1789-1794
ANONYMOUS, under the direction of the entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy. modelo à escala da Bastilha/scaled model of the Bastille, souvenir esculpido em pedra da Bastilha/souvenir made of stone from the Bastille, 37 X 95 X 98 cm, ca. 1789-1794
ANONYMOUS, under the direction of the entrepreneur Pierre-François Palloy. modelo à escala da Bastilha/scaled model of the Bastille, souvenir esculpido em pedra da Bastilha/souvenir made of stone from the Bastille, 37 X 95 X 98 cm, ca. 1789-1794
ANTONIONI, Michelangelo. Zabriskie Point, 06:20 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1970
ANTONIONI, Michelangelo. Zabriskie Point, 06:20 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1970
ANTONIONI, Michelangelo. Zabriskie Point, 06:20 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1970
ARBOLEDA, Martin. Planetary Mine, Verso, 2020. pp. 69-83  

Capitalism is unique, Neil Smith considered, in that for the first time in history, human beings produce nature at a world scale. When one looks at the sheer technological sophistication and the magnitude at which the mining industry wrests minerals from the soil to swiftly move them around by air, land, and sea, it becomes possible to start grasping the full extent of Smith’s provocative assertion. The relentless robotization and computerization advanced by the mining industry during recent decades makes almost any other sector of social production today seem rudimentary at best. Although Google engineers have been testing prototypes for a self-driving car that could tentatively be released into the market at some point during the 2020s, mining companies have been operating with fully robotized vehicles since 2008. These driverless trucks, pioneered by BHP in association with the Japanese giant Komatsu, are fully autonomous and dwarf, in size and cargo capacity, any type of wheeled haulage machinery. Besides autonomous trucks, mining companies have harnessed advances in robotics, control systems, and materials science in order to mechanize and computerize parts of the extraction process. This has allowed them to introduce automatic drills, smelters, locomotives, cranes, and other technological elements to diverse segments of the supply chain. Moreover, the introduction of geospatial information systems (GIS), artificial intelligence, and geological modeling tools to mineral forecasting has allowed companies to extract low-grade ore bodies profitably for the first time in history, especially without the burden, timescales, and costs of drilling boreholes. By making use of GIS, electromagnetic waves, and 3-D visualization methods imported from videogaming technologies, geologists and engineers can now develop very accurate representations of the subsurface in order to design the most effective mine plan.

Empire, Resource Imperialism after the West

Martin Arboleda

Capitalism is unique, Neil Smith considered, in that for the first time in history, human beings produce nature at a world scale. When one looks at the sheer technological sophistication and the magnitude at which the mining industry wrests minerals from the soil to swiftly move them around by air, land, and sea, it becomes possible to start grasping the full extent of Smith’s provocative assertion. The relentless robotization and computerization advanced by the mining industry during recent decades makes almost any other sector of social production today seem rudimentary at best. Although Google engineers have been testing prototypes for a self-driving car that could tentatively be released into the market at some point during the 2020s, mining companies have been operating with fully robotized vehicles since 2008. These driverless trucks, pioneered by BHP in association with the Japanese giant Komatsu, are fully autonomous and dwarf, in size and cargo capacity, any type of wheeled haulage machinery. Besides autonomous trucks, mining companies have harnessed advances in robotics, control systems, and materials science in order to mechanize and computerize parts of the extraction process. This has allowed them to introduce automatic drills, smelters, locomotives, cranes, and other technological elements to diverse segments of the supply chain. Moreover, the introduction of geospatial information systems (GIS), artificial intelligence, and geological modeling tools to mineral forecasting has allowed companies to extract low-grade ore bodies profitably for the first time in history, especially without the burden, timescales, and costs of drilling boreholes. By making use of GIS, electromagnetic waves, and 3-D visualization methods imported from videogaming technologies, geologists and engineers can now develop very accurate representations of the subsurface in order to design the most effective mine plan.
According to Ernest Mandel, each epochal shift in capitalist society demands a qualitative leap forward in the technical process, which can only be attained by means of a new generation of machines. Major theories of global political economy in the Marxist tradition have typically considered epoch-making shifts and technological revolutions of the type Mandel described to go hand in hand with a new structure of geopolitical relations. Such relations are typically understood as driven by empire-building projects whereby a new “hegemon” mobilizes the powers of science and technology in order to achieve trade dominance. This was the claim advanced by the influential accounts of world-systems analysis as well as by the related approaches of dependency theory and Latin American structuralism. Studies of capitalism in the longue durée have associated the existing resource-extraction frontiers—sugarcane in the sixteenth century, peat in the eighteenth, rubber and coal in the nineteenth, oil and iron ore in the twentieth—with the pursuit for world dominance by Western imperial powers. The so-called “fourth industrial revolution,” considered by pundits to be an era of technological innovation whose breadth and dynamism supersede those of previous historical epochs, seems to be lacking its proverbial hegemon. Yet, paradoxically, this allegedly postcolonial, postpolitical context has witnessed the expansion of mineral-extraction frontiers and the concomitant clearing of peasantries from the land to an extent that is entirely without precedent in human history.
This chapter sets out to solve such a paradox by arguing that existing studies have tended to confuse the political/historical forms of appearance of capitalist imperialism with their underlying content in the production and valorization of value, a process whose existence not only transcends the political mediation of domestic spheres of accumulation but is ontologically prior to them. The purpose of the chapter is therefore to posit the world market (not the nation-state or even the interstate system) as the analytical starting point from which the nature of resource imperialism can be most adequately fleshed out. This entails an analytical dissection of the “fetishized” or “alienated” imperialist political forms, which are sensuous and fragmented (e.g., militarization, debt peonage, internal colonialism, dependency), from their essential foundations in the movement of value, a process that is suprasensuous and systemic. Philosophically speaking, this entails capturing how the essential level (the total surplus value of society) acquires phenomenal reality in sensuous experience via the messy materialities and entanglements of firms and states. The reading proposed here is thus inspired by Marx’s appropriation of the Hegelian conception of the inverted world, which posits reality as the unity of two contradictory movements. For Marx, capital is a “sensuous supersensible thing.” This means that the reality of liberal society is a product of the movement of opposites, between self-determined activity and its independent appearance in the autonomized forms of political power. The categorical critique that this chapter proposes involves deciphering the practical and human content that underlies such alienated forms.
To develop a reading of the production of resource frontiers in the context of global capital accumulation, I build upon value-theoretical interpretations of the world economy whose methodological approach has consisted of a logical progression from the determination of the total surplus value of society—the world market—to its organization into individual parts—national economies and individual capitals. Some of these approaches, the chapter shows, have emerged not only from the form-analysis tradition, but also from a radical strand of Latin American theories of dependency, which has considered class relations to precede those of the nation-state. On this basis, and as opposed to dominant readings, the chapter argues that resource imperialism is not autonomously determined by the locational strategies of transnational firms or by the political dynamics of the nation-state. According to Vivek Chibber, one of the most salient aspects of the classical theories of imperialism that emerged in the context of the Second International was that they sought to decipher the deep economic forces that underpinned what on the surface appeared to be autonomous political projects. With this, I intend to shift the focus from political theories of imperialism to those that place a greater emphasis on economic and systemic determinations. Accordingly, developing a theory of imperialism that takes seriously the essential unity of global capital accumulation is a matter of intellectual and political urgency, especially in the context of a new international division of labor that destabilizes the geometries of power of an interstate system originally structured around global North/global South and West/non-West binaries.
In the first section of the chapter, I briefly review how major intellectual traditions have traditionally considered the making of resource peripheries as linked to empire-building projects and, more generally, to the direct political-economic relations of an interstate system. By means of Mandel’s periodization of industrial capitalism, I excavate the scientific-technological revolutions that have enabled access to raw materials across previous historical cycles of accumulation. The second section goes on to assess the historical specificity of what I term the fourth machine age. “This advance in modern science and technology, I argue, has been crucial in the processes that have repositioned the gravitational center of the world economy toward the Pacific Ocean. In the third section, the chapter builds upon value-theoretical readings of global capitalism in order to lay out an alternative framework of resource imperialism that can grasp the nature of capitalism as a planetary socionatural system but also takes seriously the evolving forms of political authority and extraeconomic force that mediate its complex metabolism. The final section grounds and spatializes these theoretical insights by exploring the spaces of extraction that have emerged as the Asian Tigers consolidate themselves as the world’s main buyers of raw materials.

Empire and Technologies of Extraction

An exploration of the colonial histories and geographies of the last six centuries reveals how natural-resource frontiers are internally related to the constitution of the very fabric of modernity. Without the fabulous material wealth drawn from the sugarcane plantations of Brazil and the silver mines of Potosí (now in Bolivia) in the sixteenth century, for example, the cultural, artistic and political efflorescence that characterized the so-called Golden Century of the Habsburg dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula would have never existed. Likewise, the first industrial revolution that took place in nineteenth-century England would have been unthinkable without the rubber, guano, and coal frontiers that dramatically expanded across the Atlantic Ocean in order to feed machines, crops, and workers in the heartland of the British Empire. World-systems analysis is perhaps one of the most, if not the most, influential intellectual traditions explaining such relations of interdependence in the configuration of the space economy of capitalism. Immanuel Wallerstein, a key proponent of this strand of thought, starts from the assumption that states are the expression of power in a capitalist world economy as they enforce the appropriation of value from the bourgeois class. As a fractured and uneven system, such appropriation of value unfolds along constant pressure from the strong against the weak, and thus a polarized system of “core” and “peripheral” states is summoned into existence. The political relations of imperialist expansion, so the argument goes, translate into economic relations of unequal exchange between cores and peripheries.
Such world systems are dispersed across space but also across time, and for this reason one of the key features of world-systems analysis is its opposition to the so-called “two-century model” that views the capital form as an offspring of the first industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. Giovanni Arrighi’s influential account of systemic cycles of accumulation explains the genesis and evolution of world systems in the longue durée, with the fifteenth century as its starting point. For him, the initial formation and subsequent expansion of the world system to its present global all-encompassing dimensions can be broken down into four, partly overlapping systemic cycles of accumulation: a Genoese-Iberian cycle that stretches from the fifteenth through the early seventeenth; a Dutch cycle, stretching from the late sixteenth century to the late eighteenth; a British cycle, stretching from the mid-eighteenth century to the early twentieth; and a US cycle, stretching from the late nineteenth century to what he saw as the wave of economic expansion taking place in the late twentieth and early twenty-first. In Arrighi’s formulation, a systemic cycle is superseded once an emergent core state is able to consolidate itself by means of material and financial expansion and achieve trade dominance.
The inherited epistemological frameworks and historical assumptions introduced by world-systems analysis have been fundamental to how primary-commodity production has been understood across disciplines and intellectual traditions. Stephen Bunker and Paul Ciccantell’s “new historical materialist” study of natural resource frontiers, for example, is directly anchored to Arrighi’s formulation of systemic cycles of accumulation. However, Bunker and Ciccantell depart from Arrighi’s reading because they place the gravitational focus not on finance but on primary commodities. The crux of the question, these authors argue, lies in the capacity of ascending imperial powers to secure and maintain access to raw materials through scientific and technological innovation. As industries in the “core” become more capitalized and the ratio of dead labor to living labor rises along with productivity, access to an increasing amount of resources in increasingly remote “peripheries” needs to be secured. This imposes the need to reduce transport costs, so a characteristic feature of each systemic cycle of accumulation is that the ascending economy is able to introduce technological innovations that allow for an increase in the scale and efficiency of transport. Larger and more efficient ships, ports, railways, warehouses, and other forms of transport infrastructure, according to Bunker and Ciccantell, have played fundamental roles in the competition of states for global trade dominance.
The ascent of the Dutch to trade dominance, for example, was to a large extent a result of the introduction of technologies to maneuver oak and pine wood in order to build lighter and more efficient hulls—the Dutch fluyt. In this dawn of modern technics, which Lewis Mumford terms the eotechnic phase, the water-and-wood industrial complex set the foundations for experimental science on mathematics, exact measurement, and timing. The shift to the paleotechnic phase—which in Mandel’s periodization corresponds to the first technological revolution—built upon the previous scientific revolutions and inaugurated a coal-and-iron complex that relied on new resources such as aluminum, cassiterite, manganese, petroleum, and rubber. The production of automatic systems of machinery feeding upon and at the same time expanding these new resource frontiers, Bunker and Ciccantell argue, allowed the British to achieve trade dominance and set into motion a new systemic cycle of accumulation. Innovations in motor design allowed them to introduce mechanized ships that gradually but irrevocably doomed the sailing ships inherited from the previous systemic cycle. This opened new possibilities for expanding resource peripheries in more remote geographies. Rubber, in particular, performed key mechanical functions in conveyor belts, pads for moving parts that rubbed against each other, insulation for cables, and tires for wheels that made machines mobile. The rubber boom that followed the consolidation of the British Empire, Bunker and Ciccantell note, vastly reconfigured the geography of the Amazon, producing major social and environmental destruction. The British Empire remained unchallenged until the United States pioneered the process of Bessemer conversion for iron-ore smelting, which made durable steel that was cheap enough for mass production.
Bessemer steel production facilitated unprecedented mechanization of agriculture, extraction, and industry, as well as the rapid transport of raw materials that consolidated the US as a new imperial power after the mid-nineteenth century. Maximum ore cargos increased from 1,000 tons in the 1870s to 3,000 tons when the first steel ships were built in 1886. The invention and proliferation of the internal-combustion engine, which for Mandel marks the “second technological revolution,” allowed the US to further improve transport technologies and substantially reduce the turnover times of capital. Iron-ore mines swelled in size and grew in numbers after these key technological breakthroughs, which ensured US hegemony until Japan devised new computerized technologies for iron-ore smelting, which in turn dramatically improved ships in both propulsion and cargo capacity. The systemic cycle that Bunker and Ciccantell ascribe to the ascendancy of Japan corresponds to the “third technological revolution” (electronic and nuclear-powered apparatuses) in Mandel’s periodization.
Despite their differences in scope and method, what cuts across these world-systems perspectives on resource extraction is that they are underpinned by a deeply rooted methodological nationalism that views these historical transformations as a result of interactions between states or systems of states. In general terms, methodological nationalism has been understood as a metatheoretical orientation that conflates society with the state and the national territory. Most importantly, though, it has also been understood as an approach that isolates internal and external factors in explanations of development, giving more prevalence to the former. As Brenner suggests, although Wallerstein’s concept of the modern world system is framed on the basis of an attempt to supersede state-centric models of capitalist modernity, national territories remain pivotal within the whole theoretical edifice. Although the division of labor in the capitalist world economy is considered to be structured in accordance with three supranational zones (core, periphery, semiperiphery), Wallerstein’s reading consistently places the focus on the specific historical trajectories and dynamics of nation-states. Transnational corporations, infrastructural megadevelopments, and circuits of capital, according to Brenner, remain secondary in Wallerstein’s approach. In the end, the primary geographical units of global space remain defined by the territorial boundaries of domestic spheres of accumulation.
A very similar methodological and metatheoretical orientation informs other predominant approaches to natural-resource governance and extraction, such as theories of natural-resource curse, ecological economics, and the Latin American schools of structuralism, dependency theory, and post-extractivismo. Latin American structuralism is perhaps the most influential intellectual tradition of this group. Its most renowned author was the Argentinean economist Raúl Prebisch, who also served as the executive director of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in the 1950s. Prebisch’s ideas, it should be pointed out, were formative in Wallerstein’s theorization of the modern world system and in the theories of dependency that emerged from the 1960s onward. The basic tenet of the structuralist framework, according to Cristóbal Kay is that international commerce reproduces the inequalities between the center and the periphery. This theoretical framework was devised by ECLAC structuralist economists to make sense of the incorporation of Latin American nations into the international division of labor as suppliers of raw materials. The common thread that cuts across all such approaches, according to recent critiques, is a presupposition of the nation-state as internally constituted by its own domestic context. Accordingly, international commerce is therefore construed as being the process of interaction between these abstractly autonomous spheres of national accumulation. As Enrique Dussel explains, Latin American theories of dependency gave prevalence to the surface appearance of dependency—i.e., its historical manifestation in underdeveloped economies. This, in his view, led to a state-centric reading of the interstate system that was oblivious to the operation of the law of value on a world scale—its essence.

ARMANDO, Espace Criminel, óleo sobre madeira/oil on hardboard, 91,5 x 122 cm, 1958
ARMANDO, Espace Criminel, óleo sobre madeira/oil on hardboard, 91,5 x 122 cm, 1958
ARMANDO, Espace Criminel, óleo sobre madeira/oil on hardboard, 91,5 x 122 cm, 1958
ARMANDO, Espace Criminel, óleo sobre madeira/oil on hardboard, 91,5 x 122 cm, 1958
ARTAUD, Antonin. [1938] The Theater and Its Double, trad./transl. Mary Caroline Richards, Grove Press. p.12  

For the theater as for culture, it remains a question of naming and directing shadows: and the theater, not confined to a fixed language and form, not only destroys false shadows but prepares the way for a new generation of shadows, around which assembles the true spectacle of life.

The Theater and Its Double

Antonin Artaud

Every real effigy has a shadow which is its double; and art must falter and fail from the moment the sculptor believes he has liberated the kind of shadow whose very existence will destroy his repose. 

Like all magic cultures expressed by appropriate hieroglyphs, the true theater has its shadows too, and, of all languages and all arts, the theater is the only one left whose shadows have shattered their limitations. From the beginning, one might say its shadows did not tolerate limitations. 

Our petrified idea of the theater is connected with our petrified idea of a culture without shadows, where, no matter which way it turns, our mind (esprit) encounters only emptiness, though space is full. 

But the true theater, because it moves and makes use of living instruments, continues to stir up shadows where life has never ceased to grope its way. The actor does not make the same gestures twice, but he makes gestures, he moves; and although he brutalizes forms, nevertheless behind them and through their destruction he rejoins that which outlives forms and produces their continuation. 

The theater, which is in no thing, but makes use of everything—gestures, sounds, words, screams, light, darkness-rediscovers itself at precisely the point where the mind requires a language to express its manifestations. 

And the fixation of the theater in one language—written words, music, lights, noises—betokens its imminent ruin, the choice of anyone language betraying a taste for the special effects of that language; and the dessication of the language accompanies its limitation. 

For the theater as for culture, it remains a question of naming and directing shadows: and the theater, not confined to a fixed language and form, not only destroys false shadows but prepares the way for a new generation of shadows, around which assembles the true spectacle of life.

ATTALI, Jacques. [1977] Noise: The Political Economy of Music, transl. Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, 2009, pp.3-6  

With noise is born disorder and its opposite: the world. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion.

Noise - The Political Economy of Music

Jacques Attali

LISTENING
For twenty-five centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible. 
Our science has always desired to monitor, measure, abstract, and castrate meaning, forgetting that life is full of noise and that death alone is silent: work noise, noise of man, and noise of beast. Noise bought, sold, or prohibited. Nothing essential happens in the absence of noise. 
Today, our sight has dimmed; it no longer sees our future, having constructed a present made of abstraction, nonsense, and silence. Now we must learn to judge a society more by its sounds, by its art, and by its festivals, than by its statistics. By listening to noise, we can better understand where the folly of men and their calculations is leading us, and what hopes it is still possible to have. 
In these opening pages, I would like to summarize the essential themes of this book. The supporting argument will follow. 
Among sounds, music as an autonomous production is a recent invention. Even as late as the eighteenth century, it was effectively submerged within a larger totality. Ambiguous and fragile, ostensibly secondary and of minor importance, it has invaded our world and daily life. Today, it is unavoidable, as if, in a world now devoid of meaning, a background noise were increasingly necessary to give people a sense of security. And today, wherever there is music, there is money. Looking only at the numbers, in certain countries more money is spent on music than on reading, drinking, or keeping clean. Music, an immaterial pleasure turned commodity, now heralds a society of the sign, the immaterial for sale, the social relation unified in money. 
It heralds, for it is prophetic. It has always been in its essence a herald of times to come. Thus, as we shall see, if it is true that the political organization of the twentieth century is rooted in the political thought of the nineteenth, the latter is almost entirely present in embryonic form in the music of the eighteenth century. 
In the last twenty years, music underwent yet another transformation, forecasting a change in social relations. Already, material production is supplanted by the exchange of signs. Showbusiness, the star system and the hit parade signal a profound institutional and cultural colonization. Music makes mutations audible. It obliges us to invent categories and new dynamics to regenerate social theory, which today has become crystallized, entrapped, moribund. 
Music, as a mirror of society, calls this truism to our attention: society is much more than economistic categories, Marxist or otherwise, would have us believe. 
Music is more than an object of study: it is a way of perceiving the world; a tool of understanding. Today no theorizing accomplished through language or mathematics any longer suffices; it is incapable of accounting for what is essential in time – the qualitative and the fluid, threats and violence. In the face of the growing ambiguity of the signs being used and exchanged, the most well established concepts are crumbling and every theory is wavering. The available representations of the economy, trapped within frameworks erected in the seventeenth century or, at latest, towards 1850, can neither predict, describe nor even express what awaits us. 
It is thus necessary to imagine radically new theoretical forms in order to speak to new realities. Music, the organization of noise, is one such form. It reflects the manufacture of society; it constitutes the audible waveband of the vibrations and signs that make up society. An instrument of understanding, it prompts us to decipher a sound form of knowledge. 
My intention here is thus not only to theorize about music, but to theorize through music. The result will be unusual and unacceptable conclusions about music and society, the past and the future. That is perhaps why music is so rarely listened to and why – as with every facet of social life for which the rules are breaking down (sexuality, the family, politics) – it is censored; people refuse to draw conclusions from it. 
In [Noise: The Political Economy of Music], music will be presented as originating in ritual murder, of which it is a simulacrum, a minor form of sacrifice heralding change. We will see that in this capacity it was an attribute of religious and political power, that it signified order, but also that it prefigured subversion. Then, after entering into commodity exchange, it participated in the growth and creation of capital and the spectacle. Fetishized as a commodity, music is illustrative of the evolution of our entire society: de-ritualize a social form, repress an activity of the body, specialize its practice, sell it as a spectacle, generalize its consumption, then see to it that it is stockpiled until it loses its meaning. Today, music heralds – regardless of what the property mode of capital will be – the establishment of a society of repetition in which nothing will happen any more. But at the same time, it heralds the emergence of a formidable subversion, one leading to a radically new organization never yet theorized, of which self-management is but a distant echo. 
In this respect, music is not innocent: unquantifiable and unproductive, a pure sign that is now for sale, it provides a rough sketch of the society under construction, a society in which the informal is mass-produced and consumed, in which difference is artificially recreated in the multiplication of semi-identical objects. 
No organized society can exist without structuring differences at its core. No market economy can develop without erasing those differences in mass production. The self-destruction of capitalism lies in this contradiction, in the fact that music leads a deafening life: an instrument of differentiation, it has become a locus of repetition. It itself becomes undifferentiated, goes anonymous in the commodity, and hides behind the mask of stardom: it makes audible what is essential in the contradictions of the developed societies: an anxiety-ridden quest for lost difference, following a logic from which difference is banished. 
Art bears the mark of its time. Does that mean that it is a clear image? A strategy for understanding? An instrument of struggle? In the codes that structure noise and its mutations we glimpse a new theoretical practice and reading: establishing relations between the history of people and the dynamics of the economy on the one hand, and the history of the ordering of noise in codes on the other; predicting the evolution of one by the forms of the other; combining economics and aesthetics; demonstrating that music is prophetic and that social organization echoes it. 
This is not an attempt at a multidisciplinary study, but rather a call to theoretical indiscipline, with an ear to sound matter as the herald of society. The risk of wandering off into poetics may appear great, since music has an essential metaphorical dimension: ‘For a genuine poet, metaphor is not a rhetorical figure but a vicarious image that he actually beholds in place of a concept.’ (Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy
Yet music is a credible metaphor of the real. It is neither an autonomous activity nor an automatic indicator of the economic infrastructure. It is a herald, for change is inscribed in noise faster than it transforms society. Undoubtedly, music is a play of mirrors in which every activity is reflected, defined, recorded and distorted. If we look at one mirror, we see only an image of another. But at times a complex mirror game yields a vision that is rich, because unexpected and prophetic. At times it yields nothing but the swirl of the void. 
Mozart and Bach reflect the bourgeoisie’s dream of harmony better than and prior to the whole of nineteenth-century political theory. There is in the operas of Cherubini a revolutionary zeal rarely attained in political debate. Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix say more about the liberatory dream of the 1960s than any theory of crisis. The standardized products of today’s shows, hit parades and showbusiness are pathetic and prophetic caricatures of future forms of the repressive channeling of desire. 
The cardinal importance of music in announcing a vision of the world is nothing new. For Marx, music is the ‘mirror of reality’ ‘expression of truth’; for Freud, a ‘text to decipher’. It is all of that, for it is one of the sites where mutations first arise and where science is secreted: ‘If you close your eyes, you lose the power of abstraction’ (Michel Serres). It is all of that, even if it is only a detour on the way to addressing man about the works of man, to hearing and making audible his alienation, to sensing the unacceptable immensity of his future silence and the wide expanse of his fallowed creativity. Listening to music is listening to all noise, realizing that its appropriation and control is a reflection of power, that it is essentially political. 

THE SOUNDS OF POWER - NOISE AND POLITICS
More than colors and forms, it is sounds and their arrangements that fashion societies. With noise is born disorder and its opposite: the world. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion. In noise can be read the codes of life, the relations among men. Clamor, Melody, Dissonance, Harmony; when it is fashioned by man with specific tools, when it invades man's time, when it becomes sound, noise is the source of purpose and power, of the dream-Music. It is at the heart of the progressive rationalization of aesthetics, and it is a refuge for residual irrationality; it is a means of power and a form of entertainment. 
Everywhere codes analyze, mark, restrain, train, repress, and channel the primitive sounds of language, of the body, of tools, of objects, of the relations to self and others. 
All music, any organization of sounds is then a tool for the creation or consolidation of a community, of a totality. It is what links a power center to its sub- jects, and thus, more generally, it is an attribute of power in all of its forms. Therefore, any theory of power today must include a theory of the localization of noise and its endowment with form. Among birds a tool for marking territorial boundaries, noise is inscribed from the start within the panoply of power. Equivalent to the articulation of a space, it indicates the limits of a territory and the way to make oneself heard within it, how to survive by drawing one's sustenance from it. And since noise is the source of power, power has always listened to it with fascination. 

AVRAAMOV, Arseny. Symphony Of Factory Sirens, composition for choir, foghorns of the Caspian Flotilla, two batteries of artillery guns, infantry and machine gun division, hydroplanes, factory sirens, presented as a public event, Baku, 28:12 mins., 1922
AVRAAMOV, Arseny. Symphony Of Factory Sirens, composition for choir, foghorns of the Caspian Flotilla, two batteries of artillery guns, infantry and machine gun division, hydroplanes, factory sirens, presented as a public event, Baku, 28:12 mins., 1922
BAKHTIN, Mikhail. [1965] Rabelais and His World, trad./transl. Helene Iswolsky, Indiana University Press, 1984. pp. 3-12

The most ancient rituals of mocking at the deity have here survived, acquiring a new essential meaning.

Rabelais and his world

Mikhail Bakhtin

Rabelais' images have a certain undestroyable nonofficial nature. No dogma, no authoritarianism, no narrow-minded seriousness can coexist with Rabelaisian images; these images are opposed to all that is finished and polished, to all pomposity, to every ready-made solution in the sphere of thought and world outlook. This accounts for Rabelais' peculiar isolation in the successive centuries. He cannot be approached along the wide beaten roads followed by bourgeois Europe's literary creation and ideology during the four hundred years separating him from us.

[...] Let us say a few initial words about the complex nature of carnival laughter. It is, first of all, a festive laughter. Therefore it is not an individual reaction to some isolated “comic” event. Carnival laughter is the laughter of all the people. Second, it is universal in scope: it is directed at all and everyone, including the carnival's participants. The entire world is seen in its droll aspect, in its gay relativity. Third, this laughter is ambivalent: it is gay, triumphant, and at the same time mocking, deriding. It asserts and denies, it buries and revives. Such is the laughter of carnival. 

Let us enlarge upon the second important trait of the people's festive laughter: that it is also directed at those who laugh. The people do not exclude themselves from the wholeness of the world. They, too, are incomplete, they also die and are revived and renewed. This is one of the essential differences of the people's festive laughter from the pure satire of modern times. The satirist whose laughter is negative places himself above the object of his mockery, he is opposed to it. The wholeness of the world's comic aspect is destroyed, and that which appears comic becomes a private reaction. The people's ambivalent laughter, on the other hand, expresses the point of view of the whole world; he who is laughing also belongs to it. 

Let us here stress the special philosophical and utopian character of festive laughter and its orientation toward the highest spheres. The most ancient rituals of mocking at the deity have here survived, acquiring a new essential meaning. All that was purely cultic and limited has faded away, but the all-human, universal, and utopian element has been retained. 

The greatest writer to complete the cycle of the people's carnival laughter and bring it into world literature was Rabelais. His work will permit us to enter into the complex and deep nature of this phenomenon.

The problem of folk humor must be correctly posed. Current literature concerning this subject presents merely gross modernizations. The present-day analysis of laughter explains it either as purely negative satire (and Rabelais is described as a pure satirist), or else as gay, fanciful, recreational drollery deprived of philosophic content. The important point made previously, that folk humor is ambivalent, is usually ignored.

BALCH, Anthony, BURROUGHS, William. Towers Open Fire, 10:26 mins., 1963
BALCH, Anthony, BURROUGHS, William. Towers Open Fire, 10:26 mins., 1963
BALCH, Anthony, BURROUGHS, William. Towers Open Fire, 10:26 mins., 1963
BALLARD, J. G. [1968] Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, in The Atrocity Exhibition, Jonathan Cape, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. [1968] Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, in The Atrocity Exhibition, Jonathan Cape, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. [1968] Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, in The Atrocity Exhibition, Jonathan Cape, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. [1968] Why I Want to Fuck Ronald Reagan, in The Atrocity Exhibition, Jonathan Cape, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. Crashed Cars exhibition, New Arts Laboratory, London, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. Crashed Cars exhibition, New Arts Laboratory, London, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. Crashed Cars exhibition, New Arts Laboratory, London, 1970
BALLARD, J. G. Crashed Cars exhibition, New Arts Laboratory, London, 1970
BALZAC, Honoré de. La Femme supérieure, Manuscrit autographe et épreuves corrigées, 31 x 25,5 cm, 1837
BALZAC, Honoré de. La Femme supérieure, Manuscrit autographe et épreuves corrigées, 31 x 25,5 cm, 1837
BALZAC, Honoré de. La Femme supérieure, Manuscrit autographe et épreuves corrigées, 31 x 25,5 cm, 1837
BALZAC, Honoré de. La Femme supérieure, Manuscrit autographe et épreuves corrigées, 31 x 25,5 cm, 1837
BATAILLE, Georges.[1930] Museu, in A Mutilação Sacrificial e a Orelha Cortada de Van Gogh, trad. Carlos Valente, Hiena Editora, 1994, pp.105-106

Segundo a Grande Enciclopédia, o primeiro museu no sentido moderno da palavra (quer dizer, a primeira colecção pública) teria sido fundado em 27 de Julho de 1793 na França, pela Convenção. A origem do museu moderno estaria pois ligada ao desenvolvimento da guilhotina.

Museu

Georges Bataille

Segundo a Grande Enciclopédia, o primeiro museu no sentido moderno da palavra (quer dizer, a primeira colecção pública) teria sido fundado em 27 de Julho de 1793 na França, pela Convenção. A origem do museu moderno estaria pois ligada ao desenvolvimento da guilhotina. No entanto, o Ashmolean Museum de Oxford, fundado no final do século XVII, já era uma colecção pública que pertencia à universidade. Como é evidente, o desenvolvimento dos museus chegou mesmo a ultrapassar as esperanças mais optimistas dos fundadores. Não só o conjunto dos museus do mundo hoje representa um colossal amontoado de riquezas, mas o conjunto dos visitantes dos museus do mundo representa sobretudo, e sem dúvida nenhuma, o mais grandioso espectáculo de uma humanidade libertada das preocupações materiais e votada à contemplação. Há que levar em conta o facto de as salas e os objectos de arte não passarem de um contentor cujo conteúdo é formado pelos visitantes: o conteúdo é que distingue um museu de uma colecção particular. Um museu como que é o pulmão de uma grande cidade: todos os domingos a multidão aflui como sangue ao museu, e de lá sai purificada e fresca. Os quadros não passam de superfícies mortas, e é na multidão que os jogos, os esplendores, os escorrimentos de luz descritos tecnicamente pelos críticos autorizados se produzem. Aos domingos, às cinco horas, é interessante admirar à porta de saída do Louvre a onda dos visitantes visivelmente animados pelo desejo de em tudo serem iguais às celestes aparições que ainda continuam a encantar os seus olhos. Grandville sistematizou as relações que há nos museus entre contentor e conteúdo exagerando (pelo menos na aparência) os laços que provisoriamente se estabelecem entre os visitados e os visitantes. De igual modo, quando um natural da Costa do Marfim põe machados de pedra polida da época neolítica num recipiente cheio de água, se lava nesse recipiente e oferece galinhas ao que ele julga serem pedras de trovão (caídas do céu com um trovão), apenas prefigura a atitude de entusiasmo e comunhão profunda com os objectos que caracteriza o visitante do museu moderno. O museu é o espelho colossal onde o homem enfim se contempla em todas as faces, onde se vê literalmente admirável e abandona ao êxtase expresso em todas as revistas de arte.

BATAILLE, Georges.[1930] Museum, in Georges Bataille: Writings on Laughter, Sacrifice, Nietzsche, Un-Knowing, October Vol. 36,  transl. Annette Michelson, Spring 1986, pp.24-25

EN

Museum

George Bataille

According to the Great Encyclopedia, the first museum in the modern sense of the word (meaning the first public collection) was founded in France by the Convention of July 27, 1793. The origin of the modern museum is thus linked to the development of the guillotine. Nevertheless, the collection of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, founded at the end of the seventeenth century, was already a public one, belonging to the university.

The development of the museum has obviously exceeded even the most optimistic hopes of its founders. Not only does the ensemble of the world's mu-seums now represent a colossal piling-up of wealth, but the totality of museum visitors throughout the world surely offers the very grandiose spectacle of a hu-manity by now liberated from material concerns and devoted to contemplation.

We must realize that the halls and art objects are but the container, whose content is formed by the visitors. It is the content that distinguishes a museum from a private collection. A museum is like a lung of a great city; each Sunday the crowd flows like blood into the museum and emerges purified and fresh. The paintings are but dead surfaces, and it is within the crowd that the stream-ing play oflights and ofradiance, technically described by authorized critics, is produced. It is interesting to observe the flow of visitors visibly driven by the desire to resemble the celestial visions ravishing to their eyes.

Grandville has schematized the relations of container to content with respect to the museum by exaggerating (or so it would appear) the links tentatively formed between visitors and visited. When a native of the Ivory Coast places an axe of neolithic, polished stone within a water-filled receptacle, then bathes in that receptacle and offers poultry to what he takes to be thunder stones (fallen from the sky in a clap of thunder), he but prefigures the attitude of enthusiasm and of deep communion with objects which characterizes the modern museum visitor.

The museum is the colossal mirror in which man, finally contemplating himself from all sides, and finding himselfliterally an object of wonder, aban-dons himself to the ecstasy expressed in art journalism.

BATAILLE, Georges. [1967] The Accursed Share, An Essay on General Economy, Zone Books, 1988. p. 67-77

If he destroyed the object in solitude, in silence, no sort of power would result from the act; there would not be anything for the subject but a separation from power without any compensation. But if he destroys the object in front of another person or if he gives it away, the one who gives has actually acquired, in the other's eyes, the power of giving or destroying. He is now rich for having made use of wealth in the manner its essence would require: He is rich for having ostentatiously consumed what is wealth only if it is consumed. But the wealth that is actualized in the potlatch, in consumption for others, has no real existence except insofar as the other is changed by the consumption.
[...]
In wealth, what shines through the defects extends the brilliance of the sun and provokes passion. It is not what is imagined by those who have reduced it to their poverty; it is the return of life's immensity to the truth of exuberance. This truth destroys those who have taken it for what it is not; the least that one can say is that the present forms of wealth make a shambles and a human mockery of those who think they own it. In this respect, present-day society is a huge counterfeit, where this truth of wealth has underhandedly slipped into extreme poverty. The true luxury and the real potlatch of our times falls to the poverty stricken, that is, to the individual who lies down and scoffs. A genuine luxury requires the complete contempt for riches, the somber indifference of the individual who refuses work and makes his life on the one hand an infinitely ruined splendor, and on the other, a silent insult to the laborious lie of the rich.

The Accursed Share, An Essay on General Economy

Georges Bataille

The “Potlatch” of the Indians of the American Northwest

[...]

The “merchants” of Mexico practiced the paradoxical system of exchanges that I have described as a regular sequence of gifts; these customs, not barter, in fact constituted the archaic organization of exchange. Potlatch, still practiced by the Indians of the Northwest Coast of America, is its typical form. Ethnographers now employ this term to designate institutions functioning on a similar principle; they find traces of it in all societies. Among the Tlingit, the Haida, the Tsimshian, the Kwakiutl, potlatch is of prime importance in social life. The least advanced of these small tribes give potlatches in ceremonies marking a person's change of condition, at the time of initiations, marriages, funerals. In the more civilized tribes a potlatch is still given in the course of a festival. One can choose a festival in which to give it, but it can itself be the occasion of a festival.

Potlatch is, like commerce, a means of circulating wealth, but it excludes bargaining. More often than not it is the solemn giving of considerable riches, offered by a chief to his rival for the purpose of humiliating, challenging and obligating him. The recipient has to erase the humiliation and take up the challenge; he must satisfy the obligation that was contracted by accepting. He can only reply, a short time later, by means of a new potlatch, more generous than the first: He must pay back with interest.

Gift-giving is not the only form of potlatch: A rival is challenged by a solemn destruction of riches. In principle, the destruction is offered to the mythical ancestors of the donee; it is little different from a sacrifice. As recently as the nineteenth century a Tlingit chieftain would sometimes go before a rival and cut the throats of slaves in his presence. At the proper time, the destruction was repaid by the killing of a large number of slaves. The Chukchee of the Siberian Northeast have related institutions. They slaughter highly valuable dog teams, for it is necessary for them to startle, to stifle the rival group. The Indians of the Northwest Coast would set fire to their villages or break their canoes to pieces. They have emblazoned copper bars possessing a fictive value (depending on how famous or how old the coppers are): Sometimes these bars are worth a fortune. They throw them into the sea or shatter them.1

Theory of “Potlatch”

1. The paradox of the “gift” reduced to the “acquisition” of a “power.”

Since the publication of Marcel Mauss's The Gift, the institution of potlatch has been the object of a sometimes dubious interest and curiosity. Potlatch enables one to perceive a connection between religious behaviors and economic ones. Nevertheless, one would not be able to find laws in common between these two types of behavior — if by economy one understood a conventional set of human activities, and not the general economy in its irreducible movement. It would be futile, as a matter of fact, to consider the economic aspects of potlatch without first having formulated the viewpoint defined by general economy.2 There would be no potlatch if, in a general sense, the ultimate problem concerned the acquisition and not the dissipation of useful wealth.

The study of this strange yet familiar institution (a good many of our behaviors are reducible to the laws of potlatch; they have the same significance as it does) has a privileged place in general economy. If there is within us, running through the space we inhabit, a movement of energy that we use, but that is not reducible to its utility (which we are impelled by reason to seek), we can disregard it, but we can also adapt our activity to its completion outside us. The solution of the problem thus posed calls for an action in two contrary directions: We need on the one hand to go beyond the narrow limits within which we ordinarily remain, and on the other hand somehow bring our going-beyond back within our limits. The problem posed is that of the expenditure of the surplus. We need to give away, lose or destroy. But the gift would be senseless (and so we would never decide to give) if it did not take on the meaning of an acquisition. Hence giving must become acquiring a power. Gift-giving has the virtue of a surpassing of the subject who gives, but in exchange for the object given, the subject appropriates the surpassing: He regards his virtue, that which he had the capacity for, as an asset, as a power that he now possesses. He enriches himself with a contempt for riches, and what he proves to be miserly of is in fact his generosity.

But he would not be able by himself to acquire a power constituted by a relinquishment of power: If he destroyed the object in solitude, in silence, no sort of power would result from the act; there would not be anything for the subject but a separation from power without any compensation. But if he destroys the object in front of another person or if he gives it away, the one who gives has actually acquired, in the other's eyes, the power of giving or destroying. He is now rich for having made use of wealth in the manner its essence would require: He is rich for having ostentatiously consumed what is wealth only if it is consumed. But the wealth that is actualized in the potlatch, in consumption for others, has no real existence except insofar as the other is changed by the consumption. In a sense, authentic consumption ought to be solitary, but then it would not have the completion that the action it has on the other confers on it. And this action that is brought to bear on others is precisely what constitutes the gift's power, which one acquires from the fact of losing. The exemplary virtue of the potlatch is given in this possibility for man to grasp what eludes him, to combine the limitless movements of the universe with the limit that belongs to him.

2. The apparent absurdity of gifts.

But "you can't have your cake and eat it too," the saying goes.

It is contradictory to try to be unlimited and limited at the same time, and the result is comedy: The gift does not mean anything from the standpoint of general economy; there is dissipation only for the giver. 

Moreover, it turns out that the giver has only apparently lost. Not only does he have the power over the recipient that the gift has bestowed on him, but the recipient is obligated to nullify that power by repaying the gift. The rivalry even entails the return or a greater gift: In order to get even the giver must not only redeem himself, but he must also impose the “power of the gift” on his rival in turn. In a sense the presents are repaid with interest. Thus the gift is the opposite of what it seemed to be: To give is obviously to lose, but the loss apparently brings a profit to the one who sustains it.

In reality, this absurdly contradictory aspect of potlatch is misleading. The first giver suffers the apparent gain resulting from the difference between his presents and those given to him in return. The one who repays only has the feeling of acquiring — a power — and of outdoing. Actually, as I have said, the ideal would be that a potlatch could not be repaid. The benefit in no way corresponds to the desire for gain. On the contrary, receiving prompts one — and obliges one — to give more, for it is necessary to remove the resulting obligation.

3. The acquisition of rank.

Doubtless potlatch is not reducible to the desire to lose, but what it brings to the giver is not the inevitable increase of return gifts; it is the rank which it confers on the one who has the last word.

Prestige, glory and rank should not be confused with power. Or if prestige is power, this is insofar as power itself escapes the considerations of force or right to which it is ordinarily reduced. It must be said, further, that the identity of the power and the ability to lose is fundamental. Numerous factors stand in the way, interfere and finally prevail, but, all things considered, neither force nor right is the human basis of the differentiated value of individuals. As the surviving practices make clear, rank varies decisively according to an individual's capacity for giving. The animal factor (the capacity for defeating an adversary in a fight) is itself subordinated, by and large, to the value of giving. To be sure, this is the ability to appropriate a position or possessions, but it is also the fact of a man's having staked his whole being. Moreover, the gift's aspect of an appeal to animal force is brought out in fights for a common cause, to which the fighter gives himself. Glory, the consequence of a superiority, is itself something different from an ability to take another's place and seize his possessions: It expresses a movement of senseless frenzy, of measureless expenditure of energy, which the fervor of combat presupposes. Combat is glorious in that it is always beyond calculation at some moment. But the meaning of warfare and glory is poorly grasped if it is not related in part to the acquisition of rank through a reckless expenditure of vital resources, of which potlatch is the most legible form.

4. The first basic laws.

But if it is true that potlatch remains the opposite of a rapine, of a profitable exchange or, generally speaking, of an appropriation of possessions, acquisition is nonetheless its ultimate purpose. Because the movement it structures differs from ours, it appears stranger to us, and so it is more capable of revealing what usually escapes our perception, and what it shows us is our basic ambiguity. One can deduce the following laws from it. Of course man is not definable once and for all and these laws operate differently — their effects are even neutralized — at different stages of history, but basically they never cease to reveal a decisive play of forces:

• a surplus of resources, which societies have constantly at their disposal at certain points, at certain times, cannot be the object of a complete appropriation (it cannot be usefully employed; it cannot be employed for the growth of the productive forces), but the squandering of this surplus itself becomes an object of appropriation;

• what is appropriated in the squander is the prestige it gives to the squanderer (whether an individual or a group), which is acquired by him as a possession and which determines his rank;

• conversely, rank in society (or the rank of one society among others) can be appropriated in the same way as a tool or a field; if it is ultimately a source of profit, the principle of it is nevertheless determined by a resolute squandering of resources that in theory could have been acquired.

5. Ambiguity and contradiction.

While the resources he controls are reducible to quantities of energy, man is not always able to set them aside for a growth that cannot be endless or, above all, continual. He must waste the excess, but he remains eager to acquire even when he does the opposite, and so he makes waste itself an object of acquisition. Once the resources are dissipated, there remains the prestige acquired by the one who wastes. The waste is an ostentatious squandering to this end, with a view to a superiority over others that he attributes to himself by this means. But he misuses the negation he makes of the utility of the resources he wastes, bringing into contradiction not only himself but man's entire existence. The latter thus enters into an ambiguity where it remains: It places the value, the prestige and the truth of life in the negation of the servile use of possessions, but at the same time it makes a servile use of this negation. On the one hand, in the useful and graspable thing it discerns that which, being necessary to it, can be used for its growth (or its subsistence), but if strict necessity ceases to bind it, this “useful thing” cannot entirely answer to its wishes. Consequently, it calls for that which cannot be grasped, for the useless employment of oneself, of one's possessions, for play, but it attempts to grasp that which it wished to be ungraspable, to use that whose utility it denied. It is not enough for our left hand not to know what the right hand gives: Clumsily, it tries to take it back. 

Rank is entirely the effect of this crooked will. In a sense, rank is the opposite of a thing: What founds it is sacred, and the general ordering of ranks is given the name of hierarchy. It is the stubborn determination to treat as a disposable and usable thing that whose essence is sacred, that which is completely removed from the profane utilitarian sphere, where the hand — unscrupulously and for servile ends — raises the hammer and nails the timber. But ambiguity encumbers the profane operation just as it empties desire's vehemence of its meaning and changes it into an apparent comedy.

This compromise given in our nature heralds those linked series of deceptions, exploitations and manias that give a temporal order to the apparent unreason of history. Man is necessarily in a mirage, his very reflection mystifies him, so intent is he on grasping the ungraspable, on using transports of lost hatred as tools. Rank, where loss is changed into acquisition, corresponds to the activity of the intellect, which reduces the objects of thought to things. In point of fact, the contradiction of potlatch is revealed not only throughout history, but more profoundly in the operations of thought. Generally, in sacrifice or in potlatch, in action (in history) or in contemplation (in thought), what we seek is always this semblance — which by definition we cannot grasp — that we vainly call the poetry, the depth or the intimacy of passion. We are necessarily deceived since we want to grasp this shadow.

We could not reach the final object of knowledge without the dissolution of knowledge, which aims to reduce its object to the condition of subordinated and managed things. The ultimate problem of knowledge is the same as that of consumption. No one can both know and not be destroyed; no one can both consume wealth and increase it.

6. Luxury and extreme poverty.

But if the demands of the life of beings (or groups) detached from life's immensity defines an interest to which every operation is referred, the general movement of life is nevertheless accomplished beyond the demands of individuals. Selfishness is finally disappointed. It seems to prevail and to lay down a definitive boundary, but it is surpassed in any case. No doubt the rivalries of individuals among themselves take away the multitude's ability to be overrun by the global exuberance of energy. The weak are fleeced, exploited by the strong, who pay them with flagrant lies. But this cannot change the overall results, where individual interest is mocked, and where the lies of the rich are changed into truth.

In the end, with the possibility of growth or of acquisition reaching its limit at a certain point, energy, the object of greed of every isolated individual, is necessarily liberated — truly liberated under the cover of lies. Definitively, men lie; they do their best to relate this liberation to interest, but this liberation carries them further. Consequently, in a sense they lie in any case. As a rule the individual accumulation of resources is doomed to destruction. The individuals who carry out this destruction do not truly possess this wealth, this rank. Under primitive conditions, wealth is always analogous to stocks of munitions, which so clearly express the annihilation, not the possession of wealth. But this image is just as accurate if it is a matter of expressing the equally ludicrous truth of rank: It is an explosive charge. The man of high rank is originally only an explosive individual (all men are explosive, but he is explosive in a privileged way). Doubtless he tries to prevent, or at least delay the explosion. Thus he lies to himself by derisively taking his wealth and his power for something that they are not. If he manages to enjoy them peacefully, it is at the cost of a misunderstanding of himself, of his real nature. He lies at the same time to all the others, before whom on the contrary he maintains the affirmation of a truth (his explosive nature), from which he tries to escape. Of course, he will be engulfed in these lies: Rank will be reduced to a commodity of exploitation, a shameless source of profits. This poverty cannot in any way interrupt the movement of exuberance.

Indifferent to intentions, to reticences and lies, slowly or suddenly, the movement of wealth exudes and consumes the resources of energy. This often seems strange, but not only do these resources suffice; if they cannot be completely consumed productively a surplus usually remains, which must be annihilated. At first sight, potlatch appears to carry out this consumption badly. The destruction of riches is not its rule: They are ordinarily given away and the loss in the operation is reduced to that of the giver: The aggregate of riches is preserved. But this is only an appearance. If potlatch rarely results in acts similar in every respect to sacrifice, it is nonetheless the complementary form of an institution whose meaning is in the fact that it withdraws wealth from productive consumption. In general, sacrifice withdraws useful products from profane circulation; in principle the gifts of potlatch liberate objects that are useless from the start. The industry of archaic luxury is the basis of potlatch; obviously, this industry squanders resources represented by the quantities of available human labor. Among the Aztecs, they were “cloaks, petticoats, precious blouses”; or “richly coloured feathers ... cut stones, shells, fans, shell paddles ... wild animal skins worked and ornamented with designs.” In the American Northwest, canoes and houses are destroyed, and dogs or slaves are slaughtered: These are useful riches. Essentially the gifts are objects of luxury (elsewhere the gifts of food are pledged from the start to the useless consumption of feasts). 

One might even say that potlatch is the specific manifestation, the meaningful form of luxury. Beyond the archaic forms, luxury has actually retained the functional value of potlatch, creative of rank. Luxury still determines the rank of the one who displays it, and there is no exalted rank that does not require a display. But the petty calculations of those who enjoy luxury are surpassed in every way. In wealth, what shines through the defects extends the brilliance of the sun and provokes passion. It is not what is imagined by those who have reduced it to their poverty; it is the return of life's immensity to the truth of exuberance. This truth destroys those who have taken it for what it is not; the least that one can say is that the present forms of wealth make a shambles and a human mockery of those who think they own it. In this respect, present-day society is a huge counterfeit, where this truth of wealth has underhandedly slipped into extreme poverty. The true luxury and the real potlatch of our times falls to the poverty stricken, that is, to the individual who lies down and scoffs. A genuine luxury requires the complete contempt for riches, the somber indifference of the individual who refuses work and makes his life on the one hand an infinitely ruined splendor, and on the other, a silent insult to the laborious lie of the rich. Beyond a military exploitation, a religious mystification and a capitalist misappropriation, henceforth no one can rediscover the meaning of wealth, the explosiveness that it heralds, unless it is in the splendor of rags and the somber challenge of indifference. One might say, finally, that the lie destines life's exuberance to revolt.

These facts are drawn from the authoritative study by Marcel Mauss, Essai sur le don: Forme et raison de l'échange dans les sociétés archaïques, in the Année sociologique, 1923-24, pp. 30-186, translated as The Gift: Forms and Functions of Exchange in Archaic Societies. New York: Norton, 1967.
Let me indicate here that the studies whose results I am publishing here came out of my reading of the Essai sur le don. To begin with, reflection on potlatch led me to formulate the laws of general economy. But it may be of interest to mention a special difficulty that I was hard put to resolve. The general principles that I introduced, which enable one to interpret a large number of facts, left irreducible elements in the potlatch, which in my mind remained the origin of those facts. Potlatch cannot be unilaterally interpreted as a consumption of riches. It is only recently that I have been able to reduce the difficulty, and give the principles of "general economy" a rather ambiguous foundation. What it comes down to is that a squandering of energy is always the opposite of a thing, but it enters into consideration only once it has entered into the order of things, once it has been changed into a thing.

BATAILLE, Georges. [1967] The accursed Share, transl. Robert Hurley, Zone Books, 1988. pp.20-22  

The final dissipation cannot fail to carry out the movement that animates terrestrial energy.

The accursed share

Georges Bataille

The Necessity of Losing the Excess Energy that Cannot be Used for a System's Growth
At first sight, it is easy to recognize in the economy - in the pro­duction and use of wealth - a particular aspect of terrestrial activity regarded as a cosmic phenomenon. A movement is produced on the surface of the globe that results from the circulation of energy at this point in the universe. The economic activity of men appro­priates this movement, making use of the resulting possibilities for certain ends. But this movement has a pattern and laws with which, as a rule, those who use them and depend on them are un­acquainted. Thus the question arises: Is the general determination of energy circulating in the biosphere altered by man's activity? Or rather, isn't the latter's intention vitiated by a determination of which it is ignorant, which it overlooks and cannot change? 
[...]
It is not easy to realize one's own ends if one must, in trying to do so, carry out a movement that surpasses them. No doubt these ends and this movement may not be entirely irreconcilable; but if these two terms are to be reconciled we must cease to ignore one of them; otherwise, our works quickly turn to catastrophe.
I will begin with a basic fact: The living organism, in a situa­tion determined by the play of energy on the surface of the globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintain­ing life; the excess energy (wealth) can be used for the growth of a system (e.g., an organism); if the system can no longer grow, or if the excess cannot be completely absorbed in its growth, it must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be spent, will­ingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically. 

The Poverty of Organisms or Limited Systems and the Excess Wealth of Living Nature
Minds accustomed to seeing the development of productive forces as the ideal end of activity refuse to recognize that energy, which constitutes wealth, must ultimately be spent lavishly (with­out return), and that a series of profitable operations has abso­lutely no other effect than the squandering of profits. To affirm that it is necessary to, dissipate a substantial portion of energy produced, sending it up in smoke, is to go against judgments that form the basis of a rational economy. We know cases where wealth has had to be destroyed (coffee thrown into the sea), but these scandals cannot reasonably be offered as examples to fol­low. They are the acknowledgment of an impotence, and no one could find in them the image and essence of wealth. Indeed, involuntary destruction (such as the disposal of coffee overboard) has in every case the meaning of failure; it is experienced as a misfortune; in no way can it be presented as desirable. And yet it is the type of operation without which there is no solution. When one considers the totality of productive wealth on the sur­face of the globe, it is evident that the products of this wealth can be employed for productive ends only insofar as the living organism that is economic mankind can increase its equipment. This is not entirely - neither always nor indefinitely - possible. A surplus must be dissipated through deficit operations: The final dissipation cannot fail to carry out the movement that animates terrestrial energy. 

BAUDELAIRE, Eric. [sic], video, 09:04 min. [excerto/excerpt], 2009
BAUDELAIRE, Eric. [sic], video, 09:04 min. [excerto/excerpt], 2009
BAUDELAIRE, Eric. [sic], video, 09:04 min. [excerto/excerpt], 2009
BÉGUIN, François “La machine à guérir” in Les machines à guérir: aux origines de l’hôpital moderne, ed. Michel Foucault, Blandine Barret Kriegel, Anne Thalamy, François Béguin, Bruno Fortier, Architecture+Archives / Pierre Mardaga, 1979, pp.41-43

Les ruines répondaient au désir d'une architecture imprégnée d'histoire, d'une architecture pittoresque et poétique à la fois; la machine exprimait le désir d'une architecture instrumentale, efficace, socialement utile et entièrement positive.

La machine à guérir

François Beguin

 

L'architecture, la machine et les ruines 

Mais sans doute ne suffit-il pas encore d'avoir repéré quelques-uns des effets auxquels ces «machines» pouvaient être associées pour que l'image cesse de résonner. Sa force vient aussi d'ailleurs. Bien sûr, de ce qu'elle excède les performances ordinaires de l'objet et déroute notre perception habituelle de l'institution, mais ces deux écarts ne nous indiquent encore que la part du rêve. Restent ces lignes, qui fuient à mi-chemin du réel et de l'imaginaire, pour dire les formes idéales où les médecins et les architectes de la fin du XVIIIC siècle réfléchirent l'hôpital moderne. La formule de Tenon exprimerait alors autant les pouvoirs réels du futur équipement que les grands principes qui orientèrent sa formalisation: principe de composition des effets; principe d'inter-dépendance entre la partie et le tout; principe d'économie maximum, puisque penser l'hôpital comme une machine, c'était aussi le concevoir en sa totalité comme une masse active, comme une masse où chaque élément ne pouvait être orienté que positivement ou négativement, et dont il fallait par conséquent exclure toute neutralité. 

Au moment de la synthèse, l'enquête achevée, l'image suggérait aussi un passage à la limite, une manière de faire tendre chaque agencement vers ce point idéal où l'institution commencerait à fonctionner toute seule, où le délit dénoncerait immédiatement et infailliblement le coupable, où les formes épouseraient si bien la circulation des fluides qu'elles en garantiraient le contrôle parfait. 
Rêve d'une auto-régulation qui suivrait les lignes de pente naturelles de la matière de la maladie, de l'esprit, où le facteur humain ne s'exprimerait plus sous la forme de l'initiative, du bon vouloir, ou de compétences extraordinaires mais d'une probabilité, d'une régularité, d'une interchangeabilité toujours possible. 

Rêve d'un hôpital où le passage de la nature à l’institution pourrait s'opérer sans heurt, sans discontinuité, jusqu'à ce que la marche des soins parvenue à s'ajuster au régime de la maladie, l'hôpital viendrait se confondre avec les forces qui, à l’intérieur de l'organisme, luttent contre le mal. 

Mais on ne peut également passer sous silence le poids de cette image dans le domaine de la conception architecturale, car au fond, et aussi paradoxal que cela puisse paraître, il semble bien qu'elle ait constitué avec les ruines, une deuxième grande ligne de fuite pour l'architecture de la fin du XVIIIe siècle. 

Les ruines répondaient au désir d'une architecture imprégnée d'histoire, d'une architecture pittoresque et poétique à la fois; la machine exprimait le désir d'une architecture istrumentale, efficace, socialement utile et entièrement positive. Rien de commun dira-t-on entre ces deux aspirations; rien, si ce n’est deux modèles qui permirent de penser l'architecture en dehors des catégories et des systèmes de reférénces traditionnels, et de prendre ainsi à revers le discours académique et le savoir spécialisé. Il y avait bien là deux points d'appui qui allaient permettre de critiquer mais aussi de concevoir; dans un sens diamétralement opposé, certes, mais sur une base néanmoins commune, puisqu'il s'agissait bien, dans les deux cas, du même désir d'une architecture entièrement active, libre de toute convention, mais en prise directe sur des transformations réelles. Transformations dans le registre de l'individualité sensible pour ce qui est des ruines: machines à émouvoir et à voyager dans le temps; transformations dans un registre d'effets sociaux quantifiables et de résultats positifs pour ce qui est des machines à guérir.

Peut-être faudrait-il alors envisager ces deux modèles comme deux grands opérateurs d'une même entreprise d’épuration des formes et du vocabulaire architectural conventionnel; une attaque lancée à partir d'images et d'expériences extérieures à la profession, mais dont la charge imaginaire était suffisante pour suggérer une alternative. Ils témoigneraient ainsi de la recherche amorcée à la fin du XVIII siècle d'une autre dynamique architecturale, dont le principe aurait été de partir des effets réels pour concevoir des formes, et de n'admettre pour règles que celles découvertes dans l'activité même des formes. Mais d'un autre côté, si les machines et les ruines furent bien, à la même époque, placées à l'horizon des deux grandes lignes de fracture ouvertes par la décomposition des formes classiques, ces points de fuite n'étaient pas sans annoncer aussit, et silencieusement, deux fins possibles pour l'Architecture : l'une par dissolution de l'art dans un univers de techniques de contrôle de l'environnement (cf. R. Banham, L’«effet Wampanoag» en architecture), l'autre par la dérive au-delà de toute connexion sociale possible (cf. Boullée).

Il semble biene n tout cas que, dressées l’une en face de l’autre, ces deux images aint déjà signalé qu’une point de non-retour avait été Franchi.

Aprés, il n’y aura plus de véritable beauté qui ne soit définitivement inutile, ni d’utilité qui ne soit socialmente positive. Tout le reste n’étant plus que tentatives éphémères pour réconcilier l’inconciliable. L’utopie des utopistes? Avoir cru possibles des machines à guérir qui seraient aussi des machines à rêver.

BECKER, Murray. Hindenburg Disaster, the fire bursts out of the nose of the Hindenburg, May 6 1937      
BECKER, Murray. Hindenburg Disaster, the fire bursts out of the nose of the Hindenburg, May 6 1937      
BECKER, Murray. Hindenburg Disaster, the fire bursts out of the nose of the Hindenburg, May 6 1937      
BECKER, Murray. Hindenburg Disaster, the fire bursts out of the nose of the Hindenburg, May 6 1937      
BECKETT, Samuel. The Complete Short Prose, 1929—1989, Grove Press, 1997. pp. 402-406  

Saint-Lô will come home realising that they got at least as good as they gave, that they got indeed what they could hardly give, a vision and sense of a time-honoured conception of humanity in ruins, and perhaps even an inkling of the terms in which our condition is to be thought again. These will have been in France.

The Capital of the Ruins

Samuel Beckett

ON WHAT A YEAR AGO was a grass slope, lying in the angle that the Vire and Bayeux roads make as they unite at the entrance of the town, opposite what remains of the second most important stud-farm in France, a general hospital now stands. It is the Hospital of the Irish Red Cross in Saint-Lô, or, as the Laudiniens themselves say, the Irish Hospital. The buildings consist of some 25 prefabricated wooden huts. They are superior, generally speaking, to those so scantily available for the wealthier, the better-connected, the astuter or the more flagrantly deserving of the bombed-out. Their finish, as well without as within, is the best that priority can command. They are lined with glass-wool and panelled in isorel, a strange substance of which only very limited supplies are available. There is real glass in the windows. The consequent atmosphere is that of brightness and airiness so comforting to sick people, and to weary staffs. The floors, where the exigencies of hygiene are greatest, are covered with linoleum. There was not enough linoleum in France to do more than this. The walls and ceiling of the operating theatre are sheeted in aluminium of aeronautic origin, a decorative and practical solution of an old problem and a pleasant variation on the sword and ploughshare metamorphosis. A system of covered ways connects the kitchen with refectories and wards. The supply of electric current, for purposes both of heat and of power, leaves nothing to be desired. The hospital is centrally heated throughout, by means of coke. The medical, scientific, nursing and secretarial staffs are Irish, the instruments and furniture (including of course beds and bedding), the drugs and food, are supplied by the Society. I think I am right in saying that the number of inpatients (mixed) is in the neighbourhood of 90. As for the others, it is a regular thing, according to recent reports, for as many as 200 to be seen in the out-patients department in a day. Among such ambulant cases a large number are suffering from scabies and other diseases of the skin, the result no doubt of malnutrition or an ill-advised diet. Accident cases are frequent. Masonry falls when least expected, children play with detonators and demining continues. The laboratory, magnificently equipped, bids well to become the official laboratory for the department, if not of an even wider area. Considerable work has already been done in the analysis of local waters.
These few facts, chosen not quite at random, are no doubt familiar already to those at all interested in the subject, and perhaps even to those listening to the present circumlocution. They may not appear the most immediately instructive. That the operating-theatre should be sheeted with an expensive metal, or the floor of the labour-room covered with linoleum, can hardly be expected to interest those accustomed to such conditions as the sine qua non of reputable obstetrical and surgical statistics. These are the sensible people who would rather have news of the Norman’s semi-circular canals or resistance to sulphur than of his attitude to the Irish bringing gifts, who would prefer the history of our difficulties with an unfamiliar pharmacopia and system of mensuration to the story of our dealings with the rare and famous ways of spirit that are the French ways. And yet the whole enterprise turned from “the beginning on the establishing of a relation in the light of which the therapeutic relation faded to the merest of pretexts. What was important was not our having penicillin when they had none, nor the unregarding munificence of the French Ministry of Reconstruction (as it was then called), but the occasional glimpse obtained, by us in them and, who knows, by them in us (for they are an imaginative people), of that smile at the human conditions as little to be extinguished by bombs as to be broadened by the elixirs of Burroughes and Welcome,—the smile deriding, among other things, the having and the not having, the giving and the taking, sickness and health.
It would not be seemly, in a retiring and indeed retired storekeeper, to describe the obstacles encountered in this connexion, and the forms, often grotesque, devised for them by the combined energies of the home and visiting temperaments. It must be supposed that they were not insurmountable, since they have long ceased to be of much account. When I reflect now on the recurrent problems of what, with all proper modesty, might be called the heroic period, on one in particular so arduous and elusive that it literally ceased to be formulable, I suspect that our pains were those inherent in the simple and necessary and yet so unattainable proposition that their way of being we, was not our way and that our way of being they, was not their way. It is only fair to say that many of us had never been abroad before.
Saint-Lô was bombed out of existence in one night. German prisoners of war, and casual labourers attracted by the relative food-plenty, but soon discouraged by housing conditions, continue, two years after the liberation, to clear away the debris, literally by hand. Their spirit has yet to learn the blessings of Gallup and their flesh the benefits of the bulldozer. One may thus be excused if one questions the opinion generally received, that ten years will be sufficient for the total reconstruction of Saint-Lô. But no matter what period of time must still be endured, before the town begins to resemble the pleasant and prosperous administrative and agricultural centre that it was, the hospital of wooden huts in its gardens between the Vire and Bayeux roads will continue to discharge its function, and its cures. “Provisional” is not the term it was, in this universe become provisional. It will continue to discharge its function long after the Irish are gone and their names forgotten. But I think that to the end of its hospital days it will be called the Irish Hospital, and after that the huts, when they have been turned into dwellings, the Irish huts. I mention this possibility, in the hope that it will give general satisfaction. And having done so I may perhaps venture to mention another, more remote but perhaps of greater import in certain quarters, I mean the possibility that some of those who were in Saint-Lô will come home realising that they got at least as good as they gave, that they got indeed what they could hardly give, a vision and sense of a time-honoured conception of humanity in ruins, and perhaps even an inkling of the terms in which our condition is to be thought again. These will have been in France.

BECQUEREL, Henri. [1896] A photographic plate made by Henri Becquerel shows the effects of exposure to radioactivity in Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, vol. 46: Recherches sur une proprieté nouvelle de la matiére. pp. 371. Plate I., 1903 
BECQUEREL, Henri. [1896] A photographic plate made by Henri Becquerel shows the effects of exposure to radioactivity in Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, vol. 46: Recherches sur une proprieté nouvelle de la matiére. pp. 371. Plate I., 1903 
BECQUEREL, Henri. [1896] A photographic plate made by Henri Becquerel shows the effects of exposure to radioactivity in Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, vol. 46: Recherches sur une proprieté nouvelle de la matiére. pp. 371. Plate I., 1903 
BECQUEREL, Henri. [1896] A photographic plate made by Henri Becquerel shows the effects of exposure to radioactivity in Mémoires de l'Académie des Sciences, vol. 46: Recherches sur une proprieté nouvelle de la matiére. pp. 371. Plate I., 1903 
BEDWELL, Simon. Untitled (The Rich Will Always Be With Us), tinta spray sobre póster montado em alumínio/spray paint on found poster on aluminium, in Irresistible Magazine, Tate, 2007. p.16
BEDWELL, Simon. Untitled (The Rich Will Always Be With Us), tinta spray sobre póster montado em alumínio/spray paint on found poster on aluminium, in Irresistible Magazine, Tate, 2007. p.16
BEDWELL, Simon. Untitled (The Rich Will Always Be With Us), tinta spray sobre póster montado em alumínio/spray paint on found poster on aluminium, in Irresistible Magazine, Tate, 2007. p.16
BEDWELL, Simon. Untitled (The Rich Will Always Be With Us), tinta spray sobre póster montado em alumínio/spray paint on found poster on aluminium, in Irresistible Magazine, Tate, 2007. p.16
BELLOTTO, Bernardo, The Ruins of the Old Kreuzkirche, Dresden, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 80x110cm, 1765
BELLOTTO, Bernardo, The Ruins of the Old Kreuzkirche, Dresden, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 80x110cm, 1765
BELLOTTO, Bernardo, The Ruins of the Old Kreuzkirche, Dresden, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 80x110cm, 1765
BELLOTTO, Bernardo, The Ruins of the Old Kreuzkirche, Dresden, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 80x110cm, 1765
BENJAMIN, Thomas. Encyclopedia of Western Colonialism since 1450, Vol. 1, Thomson Gale, 2007. pp. 19-103

Spain and Portugal led Europe’s initial efforts to colonize the Americas and first introduced African slavery to the hemisphere. Given their late medieval history, both powers were uniquely suited for experimenting with African slavery in the Americas. While the institution of slavery declined in importance throughout much of Europe following the collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire during the fifth century CE the institution was revitalized in Iberia (the peninsula now occupied by Spain and Portugal) with the invasion of the Moors in 711 and the intermittent Christian campaign to retake lost territory over the subsequent seven centuries. As Christian and Muslim kingdoms collided and competed with one another, raids and warfare led to the occasional enslavement of captives and subjugated populations. 
The Portuguese Crown completed its campaign of reconquest by the mid-thirteenth century, which led within a few decades to a shift of commercial aspirations and the crusade impulse into the Atlantic. Portuguese maritime activity involved the exploration of the western coast of sub-Saharan Africa and various uninhabited Atlantic islands (e.g., Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verdes). The Portuguese sought to tap into the lucrative, preexisting trade network of the West African coast, bringing to Lisbon cargoes of ivory, peppers, gold, and some African slaves.

ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WESTERN COLONIALISM SINCE 1450

AFRICAN SLAVERY IN THE AMERICAS 
Slavery, a fairly universal development across many of the world’s ancient and early modern societies, took myriad forms reflecting a number of variables within a given historical setting. The enslavement of both Native American and African peoples in the Americas was no different, in this respect, from previous developments. Yet slavery in the Americas was exceptional as the transatlantic slave trade developed concurrently with a nascent capitalist system that touched much of the Western world. During this transformation, older forms of slavery—where enslavement was often a temporary status mediated by tribal customs or protective legal codes— were transformed into an institution in which the enslaved were marked as chattel, that is, personal property, and of inferior racial status. 

THE INTRODUCTION OF AFRICAN SLAVERY 
Spain and Portugal led Europe’s initial efforts to colonize the Americas and first introduced African slavery to the hemisphere. Given their late medieval history, both powers were uniquely suited for experimenting with African slavery in the Americas. While the institution of slavery declined in importance throughout much of Europe following the collapse of the western half of the Roman Empire during the fifth century CE the institution was revitalized in Iberia (the peninsula now occupied by Spain and Portugal) with the invasion of the Moors in 711 and the intermittent Christian campaign to retake lost territory over the subsequent seven centuries. As Christian and Muslim kingdoms collided and competed with one another, raids and warfare led to the occasional enslavement of captives and subjugated populations. 
The Portuguese Crown completed its campaign of reconquest by the mid-thirteenth century, which led within a few decades to a shift of commercial aspirations and the crusade impulse into the Atlantic. Portuguese maritime activity involved the exploration of the western coast of sub-Saharan Africa and various uninhabited Atlantic islands (e.g., Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verdes). The Portuguese sought to tap into the lucrative, preexisting trade network of the West African coast, bringing to Lisbon cargoes of ivory, peppers, gold, and some African slaves. 
European demand for enslaved Africans during the fifteenth century was relatively small compared to later developments and probably exerted a negligible influence on sub-Saharan slave markets. The impact of the slave trade was soon noticeable in Iberia, however; by the start of the sixteenth century, several thousand enslaved and freed people of African descent resided in such Iberian cities as Lisbon and Seville. The expulsion of the Moors from the Christian kingdoms of Spain took longer, but Spanish ships soon joined their Portuguese counterparts in plying the Atlantic. Spanish efforts concentrated on the conquest of the Guanches, the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands, at the close of the fifteenth century. 
Following earlier Portuguese precedent, particularly on Madeira, plantations were established to cultivate sugar for the insatiable European market. Throughout these Atlantic islands, and eventually São Tomé off the African coast, various enslaved groups were shipped to the plantations, including conquered Moors from Spain, the Guanches of the Canaries, and finally Africans purchased along the western coast of Africa. These initial experiments with sugar plantations and imported African slaves served as a harbinger for later developments in the Americas. 

THE CARIBBEAN 
While the Portuguese developed trade relations along the western and central African coast, Spain benefited from the fortuitous discovery of the American hemisphere through its support of the Genoese navigator Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus, 1451–1506). Columbus made landfall in late 1492 in the Lesser Antilles and eventually Hispaniola (the island comprising the modern nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). While he famously searched for the ‘‘Great Khan’’ of China, Columbus also sought potential commercial opportunities for his royal sponsors, including the traffic of Indian slaves. He noted the servile and peaceful nature of the Arawak inhabitants of the Caribbean, who might be coerced into laboring in the gold mines that he rightly guessed would be discovered on Hispaniola. 

Slave arrivals in the Americas, 1451–1870 

1451–1600                       274,000
1601–1700                    1,341,100
1701–1800                   5,729,100
1801–1870                   2,902,400
Total                            10,247,500 

Spanish colonization of the Caribbean began in earnest with Columbus’s second voyage in 1493. Discipline and work were concepts difficult to instill in a colonist population seeking fortune and a quick return home. Spanish-Indian relations thus turned sour as colonists demanded greater access to native labor and provisions. A version of the Iberian encomienda, through which non-Christians were placed under the vassalage of a Christian lord, was adapted to the Caribbean context to satisfy these demands. In its various guises, the encomienda would serve as the initial instrument for tapping indigenous labor and goods as the Spanish expanded their control over new lands and peoples. 
Old World diseases and exploitation decimated Hispaniola’s native population, spurring colonists to begin raiding much of the Caribbean basin for substitute labor. Such actions were commonly justified by the Spanish perception of the existence of hostile, man-eating Caribs (from which the term cannibalism originates). Slave raiding emptied out the Bahamas by 1513, while the military conquest of Puerto Rico in 1508 and Cuba in 1511 supplied even larger numbers of war captives. 
This initial experimental phase raised profound questions for Spanish jurists concerning the nature of the colonial enterprise, Spanish obligations to autochthonous groups, and eventually a rationale for importing African slaves. Spain’s initial claim to sovereignty over the Americas rested largely on a series of papal bulls (decrees) and treaties promulgated after the return of Columbus’s first voyage to the New World. Pope Alexander VI (1431–1503) had effectively divided the world into two spheres of influence, providing Spain a monopoly over most of what would become the American continents while setting aside Africa and the Far East for rival Portugal. This decision, however, rested upon the moral obligation of the crown to evangelize newly discovered pagan peoples and to establish a protective tutelage over them. 

These early ideological underpinnings of the colonial enterprise brought significant consequences for how the Spanish monarchy approached its indigenous subjects and the topic of slavery. Facing a demographic cata- strophe in its Caribbean colonies by the second decade of the sixteenth century, the crown responded with decrees that restricted conditions for waging ‘‘just war’’ against hostile Indians and limited enslavement to known cannibals. Enforcement proved difficult, however. The invasion of Central America in 1500, for example, led to a half century of Indian slaving that resulted in the export of tens of thousands of captives out of the region. In response to the precipitous decline of indigenous groups throughout the mainland, the so-called New Laws of 1542 banned definitively Indian slavery, although the practice persisted well into the eighteenth century in precariously held frontier zones in northern Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. As the legality of Indian slavery became more nebulous and their numbers dwindled, the demand for compliant labor took a different direction. 
The introduction of slaves of African descent to the Americas took place within this larger juridical conversation regarding the crown’s obligations to the indigenous population. Small numbers of black slaves had been present since the earliest stages of the colonization of the Caribbean. Originating from Iberia, many of these individuals were considered ladino, a term indicating they had assimilated elements of Hispanic culture and spoke Spanish. Concerns regarding the presumed fragility of the New World’s population, coupled with a desire to maintain the economic viability of the Caribbean colonies, led to an escalation of African slavery as a replacement for various forms of coerced indigenous labor. Simultaneously, with the opening of the transatlantic slave trade in the 1530s through the Portuguese-held trade factory of São Tomé off the African coast, a growing number of Africans were shipped to the New World who had very little or no Hispanic acculturation. They were called bozales

[...]

ASSIMILATION, AFRICA 
The word ‘‘assimilation’’ comes from the Latin term assimilatio, which means, ‘‘to render similar,’’ or ‘‘cause to be similar.’’ The import of this idea in French colonial politics may be linked to the ideals of fraternity, equality, and freedom emerging from the 1789 revolution there. Although colonial subjugation mitigated these core radical values, late-eighteenth-century France considered it appropriate to extend rights of citizenship and political rights to the African residents of Dakar, Gorée, Rafisque, Saint Louis, and Senegal. This foremost French colonial enclave in West Africa became the experimental laboratory for assimilation practice. 
As an imperial policy, assimilation tried to affirm the assumed superiority of French culture to those of its non-European colonies. Generally, the various European imperial powers—Britain, Germany, France, Holland, Spain, and Portugal—had claimed the obligation to civilize the ‘‘barbaric’’ peoples of the world as the major motive behind colonial exertion. In other words, ‘‘civilization’’ for the peoples of French Africa involved the imposing of French values on African culture. This implied, unquestioned acceptance of French language, dress, food, education, mannerisms, and ways of life distinguished France from its colonial peers. Instead of an indirect approach, France treated African political institutions and culture as if they were irrelevant. 
However, a big dilemma confronted the implementation of assimilation policy. Theoretically, assimilation expounded the potential equality for people of all races. This implied political, economic, and social equality among the French and the inhabitants of their overseas extensions, including Africans. But the consequences of this understanding and the attempt by the French to evade them drew indignation of the colonized people, while provoking a nationwide debate among politicians, academics, and colonial officials in France. The conservative monarchists and their Catholic allies confronted the more liberal-minded republicans. Consequently, the intention to assimilate was restricted to Senegal, while being subjected to closer scrutiny, revisions, and changes—especially between 1815 and 1945. 
These changes underpinned the dilemma facing an imperial France that tried, with limited success, to clothe its colonial interests in a liberal and progressive garb. France’s intentions became more obvious in the 1860s when Louis Léon César Faidherbe (1818–1889), the governor of French West African territory, received orders to embark on a more aggressive and ambitious territorial acquisition. While Faidherbe strengthened French possessions in Senegal from one to four communes, now comprising Dakar, Gorée, Saint Louis, and Rafisque, the privileges of the four communes were denied to the vast population of Africans that eventually came under French control. The great majority of Africans were denied assimilation and French citizenship. Only the African citizens of the French communes in Senegal were granted the right to elect deputies to the National Assembly in France. Prior to 1914, the African deputies to Parliament had come from a small class of elite, mainly people of European descent or of mixed race. But by 1914 a new African educated elite had emerged. Among them was Blaise Daigne, whose election in 1916 marked the first appearance of an African deputy in the French Parliament. 
Meanwhile, as the French expanded its African empire in the late nineteenth century more voices joined the rank of conservatives in the debate over the appropriateness of assimilation in colonial administration. Some held the view that Africans were unfit for complete assimilation. Others opposed the huge costs of educational programs needed in making assimilation a success, arguing that only rudimentary education was more proper for the Africans. There also were groups who desired that colonial development focus more on Algeria with its huge and influential French population. 
These relentless attacks on the policy resulted in restricting full citizenship rights and privileges to very few Africans in the colonies. In 1912, for instance, a law established that no one except those in West Africa could gain French citizenship. Additionally, those hoping to acquire citizenship were to meet a certain level of Western education, speak French, and accept both Christianity and European mannerisms. For the Africans, these conditions entailed a total rejection of their indigenous roots and African personality. In effect, between 1914 and 1937, the total number of assimilated Africans in Senegal was roughly 50,000. 
In the late 1930s, the French eventually began to acquiesce to the reality that Africans had a very different culture. The logic was then accepted that a different policy was required to make colonial administration attuned to African needs. This understanding led to the adoption of ‘‘association’’ as a new policy for building a better colonial order.

BENJAMIN, Walter. [1938] A obra de arte na época da sua possibilidade de reprodução técnica, Assírio & Alvim, 2006, p.239-241

Fiat ars – pereat mundus, diz o fascismo que, como confessou Marinetti, espera da guerra a satisfação artística da percepção transformada pela técnica. Trata-se visivelmente da consumação da arte pela arte. A humanidade, que antigamente, com Homero, foi objecto de contemplação para os deuses olímpicos, tornou-se objecto de contemplação para si própria. A alienação de si própria atingiu o grau que lhe permite viver a sua própria aniquilação como um prazer estético de primeira ordem. É assim a estetização da política praticada pelo fascismo. O comunismo responde-lhe com a politização da arte.

A obra de arte na época da sua possibilidade de reprodução técnica

Walter Benjamin

A proletarização crescente dos homens de hoje e a formação crescente de massas são os dois lados de um e do mesmo fenómeno. O fascismo tenta organizar as massas proletarizadas recentemente formadas sem tocar nas relações de propriedade para cuja abolição elas tendem. Vê a sua salvação na possibilidade que dá às massas de se exprimirem (mas com certeza não a de exprimirem os seus direitos). As massas têm o direito de exigir a transformação das relações de propriedade; o fascismo procurava dar-lhes expressão conservando intactas aquelas relações. Consequentemente, o fascismo tende para a estetização da política. À violentação das massas, que o fascismo subjuga no culto de um Führer, corresponde a violentação de todo um aparelho que ele põe ao serviço da produção de valores de culto.

Todos os esforços de estetização da política culminam num ponto. Este ponto é a guerra. É a guerra e só a guerra que torna possível dar uma finalidade aos mais amplos movimentos de massas, conservando as relações de propriedade herdadas. Assim se apresenta a actual situação do ponto de vista político. Do ponto de vista da técnica, ela apresenta-se da seguinte maneira: só a guerra torna possível mobilizar todos os meios técnicos que actualmente existem, conservando as relações de propriedade vigentes. É claro que a apoteose da guerra pelo fascismo não se serve destes argumentos. Contudo, será proveitoso dar-lhes alguma atenção. No manifesto de Marinetti sobre a guerra colonial etíope pode ler-se: «Há vinte e sete anos que nós, futuristas, nos erguemos contra o facto de a guerra ser considerada anti-estética….De acordo com isso, verificamos que:….A guerra é bela porque graças às máscaras de gás, aos horríveis megafones, aos lança—chamas e aos tanques pequenos, consegue fundamentar a supremacia do homem sobre a máquina subjugada. A guerra é bela porque inaugura a tão sonhada metalização do corpo humano. A guerra é bela porque enriquece um prado florido com as orquídeas flamejantes das metralhadoras. A guerra é bela porque reúne numa sinfonia os tiros de espingarda, de canhão, as pausas do cessar-fogo e os perfumes e odores dos cadáveres em decomposição. A guerra é bela porque cria novas formas arquitectónicas, como as dos grandes tanques, das esquadrilhas geométricas de aviões, das espirais de fumo das aldeias incendiadas e muitas outras coisas…Poetas e artistas do Futurismo…, lembrai-vos destes fundamentos de uma estética da guerra, para que a vossa luta por uma nova poesia e uma nova escultura…seja por eles iluminada!»

Este manifesto tem a vantagem da clareza. A maneira como aborda a questão merece ser adoptada pela dialéctica. A estética da guerra contemporânea coloca-se-lhe da seguinte maneira: se o aproveitamento natural das forças produtivas é retardado e impedido pelas relações de propriedade vigentes, a intensificação dos recursos técnicos, dos ritmos de vida, das fontes de energia, leva a que elas sejam aproveitadas de um modo não natural. É o que se passa na guerra que, com as suas destruições, prova que a sociedade não estava suficientemente madura para se servir da técnica como um órgão seu, que a técnica não estava suficientemente avançada para dominar as forças sociais elementares. Nos seus traços mais horrendos, a guerra imperialista é determinada pela discrepância entre os meios de produção poderosos e o seu aproveitamento insuficiente no processo produtivo (por outras palavras: pelo desemprego e falta de mercados). A guerra imperialista é a revolta da técnica que recolhe no «material humano» os direitos que a sociedade lhe retirou do seu material natural. Em vez de canalizar cursos de água, a técnica canaliza a corrente humana para o leito das suas trincheiras, em vez de lançar sementes do alto dos seus aviões, espalha bombas incendiárias pelas cidades, e na guerra do gás encontrou uma nova maneira de acabar com a aura.

Fiat ars – pereat mundus, diz o fascismo que, como confessou Marinetti, espera da guerra a satisfação artística da percepção transformada pela técnica. Trata-se visivelmente da consumação da arte pela arte. A humanidade, que antigamente, com Homero, foi objecto de contemplação para os deuses olímpicos, tornou-se objecto de contemplação para si própria. A alienação de si própria atingiu o grau que lhe permite viver a sua própria aniquilação como um prazer estético de primeira ordem. É assim a estetização da política praticada pelo fascismo. O comunismo responde-lhe com a politização da arte.

BENJAMIN, Walter. [1938] The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, in Illuminations, transl. Harry Zohn, Schocken Books, 2007, pp.241-42

EN

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Walter Benjamin

The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves.1 The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system.

This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today's technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war: "For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as antiaesthetic .... Accordingly we state: ... War is beautiful because it establishes man's dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates Illumination! new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others .... Poets and artists of Futurism! ... remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art ... may be illumined by them!"

This manifesto has the virtue of clarity. Its formulations deserve to be accepted by dialecticians. To the latter, the aesthetics of today's war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war.

The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production-in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of "human material," the claims to which society has denied its natural material. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.

"Fiat ars-pereat mundus," says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of "l’art pour l'art." Mankind, which in Homer's time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.

1 One technical feature is significant here, especially with regard to newsreels, the propagandist importance of which can hardly be overestimated. Mass reproduction is aided especially by the reproduction of masses. In big parades and monster rallies, in sports events, and in war, all of which nowadays are captured by camera and sound recording, the masses are brought face to face with themselves. This process, whose significance need not be stressed, is intimately connected with the development of the techniques of reproduction and photography. Mass movements are usually discerned more clearly by a camera than by the naked eye. A bird's-eye view best captures gatherings of hundreds of thousands. And even though such a view may be as accessible to the human eye as it is to the camera, the image received by the eye cannot be enlarged the way a negative is enlarged.
This means that mass movements, including war, constitute a form of human behavior which particularly favors mechanical equipment.

BENJAMIN, Walter. [1940] Paralipomena to "On the Concept of History", in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol.4 : 1938-40, ed. Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, Harvard University Press, 2006. p.402

EN

Paralipomena to "On the Concept of History"

Walter Benjamin

Marx says that revolutions are the locomotive of world history. But perhaps it is quite otherwise. Perhaps revolutions are an attempt by the passengers on this train – namely, the human race – to activate the emergency brake.

BENJAMIN, Walter. [1940] Thesis on the Philosophy of History, in Illuminations, transl. Harry Zohn, Schocken Books, 2007, pp.261-62

EN

Thesis on the Philosophy of History

Walter Benjamin

The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action. The great revolution introduced a new calendar. The initial day of a calendar serves as a historical timelapse camera. And, basically, it is the same day that keeps recurring in the guise of holidays, which are days of remembrance. Thus the calendars do not measure time as clocks do; they are monuments of a historical consciousness of which not· the slightest trace has been apparent in Europe in the past hundred years. In the July revolution an incident occurred which showed this consciousness still alive. On the first evening of fighting it turned out that the clocks in towers were being fired on simultaneously and independently from several places in Paris. An eye-witness, who may have owed his insight to the rhyme, wrote as follows:

Qui le croirait! on dit, qu'irrités contre l'heure
De nouveaux Josués au pied de chaque tour,
Tiraient sur les cadrans pour arreter le jour.-

BENJAMIN, Walter, Paralipómenos, manuscrito 1103, in O Anjo da História, trad. João Barrento, Assírio & Alvim, Lisboa, 2008, p.154

Marx diz que as revoluções são a locomotiva da história universal. Mas talvez as coisas se passem de maneira diferente. Talvez as revoluções sejam o gesto de accionar o travão de emergência por parte do género humano que viaja nesse comboio.

Sobre o Conceito da História

Walter Benjamin

Marx diz que as revoluções são a locomotiva da história universal. Mas talvez as coisas se passem de maneira diferente. Talvez as revoluções sejam o gesto de accionar o travão de emergência por parte do género humano que viaja nesse comboio.

BENJAMIN, Walter, Sobre o conceito da História [1940] in O Anjo da História, Assírio & Alvim, 2008, p.18

Na Revolução de Julho aconteceu ainda um incidente em que esta consciência ganhou expressão. Chegada a noite do primeiro dia de luta, aconteceu que, em vários locais de Paris, várias pessoas, independentemente umas das outras e ao mesmo tempo, começaram a disparar contra os relógios das torres.

Sobre o conceito da História

Walter Benjamin

A consciência de destruir o contínuo da história é própria das classes revolucionárias no momento da sua acção. A Grande Revolução introduziu um novo calendário. O dia com que se inicia um calendário funciona como um dispositivo de concentração do tempo histórico. E é, no fundo, sempre o mesmo dia que se repete, sob a forma dos dias feriados, que são dias de comemoração. Isto quer dizer que os calendários não contam o tempo como os relógios. São monumentos de uma consciência histórica da qual parecem ter desaparecido todos os vestígios na Europa dos últimos cem anos. Na Revolução de Julho aconteceu ainda um incidente em que esta consciência ganhou expressão. Chegada a noite do primeiro dia de luta, aconteceu que, cm vários locais de Paris, várias pessoas, independentemente umas das outras e ao mesmo tempo, começaram a disparar contra os relógios das torres. Uma testemunha ocular, que talvez deva o seu poder divinatório à força da rima escreveu nessa altura: 

Qui le croirait! on dit qu'irrités contre l'heure 
De nouveaux Josués, au pied de chaque tour, 
Tiraient sur les cadrans pour arrêter le jour. 

[Incrível! Irritados com a hora, dir-se-ia, 
Os novos Josués, aos pés de cada torre, 
Alvejam os relógios, para suspender o dia.]

 

BENNING, James. Los, filme/film 16mm, 02:24 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2001
BENNING, James. Los, filme/film 16mm, 02:24 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2001
BENNING, James. Los, filme/film 16mm, 02:24 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2001
BERGMAN, Ingmar, Wild Strawberries, fotograma do filme/film still, 1957
BERGMAN, Ingmar, Wild Strawberries, fotograma do filme/film still, 1957
BERGMAN, Ingmar, Wild Strawberries, fotograma do filme/film still, 1957
BERGMAN, Ingmar, Wild Strawberries, fotograma do filme/film still, 1957
BERMAN, Marshall. [1982] All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Verso, London, 2010, p.99

What is it that the members of the bourgeoisie are afraid to recognize in themselves? Not their drive to exploit people, to treat them purely as means or (in economic rather than moral language) as commodities. The bourgeoisie, as Marx sees it, doesn't lose much sleep over this. After all, they do it to one another, and even to themselves, so why shouldn't they do it to everybody else? The real source of trouble is the bourgeois claim to be the "Party of Order" in modern politics and culture. The immense amounts of money and energy put into building, and the self-consciously monumental character of so much of this building-indeed, throughout Marx's century, every table and chair in a bourgeois interior resembled a monument-testify to the sincerity and seriousness of this claim. And yet, the truth of the matter, as Marx sees, is that everything that bourgeois society builds is built to be torn down.

All That Is Solid Melts into Air

Marshall Berman

What is it that the members of the bourgeoisie are afraid to recognize in themselves? Not their drive to exploit people, to treat them purely as means or (in economic rather than moral language) as commodities. The bourgeoisie, as Marx sees it, doesn't lose much sleep over this. After all, they do it to one another, and even to themselves, so why shouldn't they do it to everybody else? The real source of trouble is the bourgeois claim to be the "Party of Order" in modern politics and culture. The immense amounts of money and energy put into building, and the self-consciously monumental character of so much of this building-indeed, throughout Marx's century, every table and chair in a bourgeois interior resembled a monument-testify to the sincerity and seriousness of this claim. And yet, the truth of the matter, as Marx sees, is that everything that bourgeois society builds is built to be torn down. "All that is solid" - from the clothes on our backs to the looms and mills that weave them, to the men and women who work the machines, to the houses and neighborhoods the workers live in, to the firms and corporations that exploit the workers, to the towns and cities and whole regions and even nations that embrace them all - all these are made to be broken tomorrow, smashed or shredded or pulverized or dissolved, so they can be recycled or replaced next week, and the whole process can go on again and again, hopefully forever, in ever more profitable forms. The pathos of all bourgeois monuments is that their material strength and solidity actually count for nothing and carry no weight at all, that they are blown away like frail reeds by the very forces of capitalist development that they celebrate. Even the most beautiful and impressive bourgeois buildings and public works are disposable, capitalized for fast depreciation and planned to be obsolete, closer in their social functions to tents and encampments than to "Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, Gothic cathedrals”.
 

BERNHARD, Thomas. [1982] Wittgenstein's Nephew, trad./transl. David McLintock, Vintage Books, 2009

I let them piss on me in all these city halls and assembly rooms, for to award someone a prize is no different from pissing on him. And to receive a prize is no different from allowing oneself to be pissed on, because one is being paid for it. I have always felt that being awarded a prize was not an honor but the greatest indignity imaginable. For a prize is always awarded by incompetents who want to piss on the recipient. And they have a perfect right to do so, because he is base and despicable enough to receive it.

Wittgenstein’s Nephew

Thomas Bernhard

My relations with Paul, which began in our friend Irina’s apartment in the Blumenstockgasse, were naturally difficult. It was the kind of friendship that has to be daily renewed and re-won, and in the course of time this proved exceedingly strenuous. Our friendship constantly shifted between high points and low points, relying for its continuance on repeated proofs of friendship. I recall, for instance, the important part that Paul played on the occasion when I was awarded the Grillparzer Prize—how he alone, apart from my companion, saw through the contrived absurdity of the award ceremony and hit upon the proper designation for such a grotesque: a piece of genuine Austrian perfidy. I recall that I bought a new suit for the occasion, believing that I could not appear at the Academy of Sciences unless I wore a suit. Accompanied by my companion, I went to an outfitters in the Kohlmarkt and chose one that seemed appropriate. Having tried it on, I decided to go on wearing it. It was gray-black, and I believed that in this gray-black suit I would be better able to play my part than in my old suit. On the morning of the ceremony I still regarded the conferment of the prize as a great occasion. It was the hundredth anniversary of Grillparzer’s death, and to be singled out for the award of the Grillparzer Prize on the hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death seemed to me a signal distinction. I’m now being honored by the Austrians, I thought, by my fellow countrymen, who up to now have done nothing but kick me, and, what’s more, by the award of the Grillparzer Prize. I really thought I had reached some peak of achievement. It is possible that my hands were trembling that morning, and that I was somewhat lightheaded. That the Austrians, having previously scorned or ignored me, should be giving me their highest award struck me as a kind of overdue compensation. It was not without a certain pride that I emerged from the clothing store into the Kohlmarkt, wearing my new suit, and walked over to the Academy of Sciences. Never in my life have I walked along the Kohlmarkt and the Graben and past the Gutenberg monument with such a sense of elation. Yet although I felt elated, I cannot say that I felt comfortable in my new suit. It is always a mistake to buy clothes under supervision—in company, so to speak—and I had made the mistake yet again: the new suit was too tight. All the same, I probably look quite good in my new suit, I thought as I arrived in front of the Academy of Sciences with my companion and Paul. If one disregards the money that goes with them, there is nothing in the world more intolerable than award ceremonies. I had already discovered this in Germany. They do nothing to enhance one’s standing, as I had believed before I received my first prize, but actually lower it, in the most embarrassing fashion. Only the thought of the money enabled me to endure these ceremonies; this was my sole motive for visiting various ancient city halls and tasteless assembly rooms—until the age of forty. I submitted to the indignity of these award ceremonies—until the age of forty. I let them piss on me in all these city halls and assembly rooms, for to award someone a prize is no different from pissing on him. And to receive a prize is no different from allowing oneself to be pissed on, because one is being paid for it. I have always felt that being awarded a prize was not an honor but the greatest indignity imaginable. For a prize is always awarded by incompetents who want to piss on the recipient. And they have a perfect right to do so, because he is base and despicable enough to receive it. Only in extremities, when one’s life and existence are threatened—and only until the age of forty—is one justified in receiving any prize or distinction, with or without an accompanying sum of money. When I received my prizes I did not have the excuse that I was suffering extreme hardship or that my life and existence were threatened; hence by receiving them I made myself not only low and contemptible but positively vile, in the truest sense of the word. On the way to receive the Grillparzer Prize, however, I believed that this time it was different. The prize carried no emolument. The Academy of Sciences meant something, I told myself, and its prize meant something. And as the three of us arrived in front of the Academy I believed that this prize was exceptional, since it was called the Grillparzer Prize and was being conferred by the Academy of Sciences. And as I walked across to the Academy of Sciences I actually thought it likely that I would be received outside the building, as seemed appropriate, and with the appropriate respect. But there was no one there to receive me. I waited in the entrance hall for a good quarter of an hour with my friends, but no one recognized me, let alone received me, even though my friends and I spent the whole time looking around. No one took the slightest notice of us as hordes of people streamed in and took their seats in the crowded assembly room. In the end I decided that we should simply follow the crowd. I decided to take my place in the middle of the room, where there were still a few empty seats, and went and sat there with my friends. By the time we had taken our seats the room was full, and even the minister had taken her place in the first row in front of the dais. The Vienna Philharmonic was nervously tuning up, and the president of the Academy of Sciences, a man by the name of Hunger, was running excitedly to and fro on the dais, while only I and my friends knew what was holding up the ceremony. Several members of the Academy were running back and forth on the dais, looking for the central figure in the proceedings. Even the minister turned and looked around the room in all directions. Suddenly one of the gentlemen on the dais caught sight of me sitting in the middle of the room and, whispering something in the president’s ear, left the dais and began to make his way toward me. It was not easy for him to pass along the row of seats, which were all occupied, to where I was sitting. Everyone in the row had to stand up. They did so only reluctantly, and I saw the malignant glances that were directed at me. It occurred to me that it had been a monstrous idea of mine to sit in the middle of the room, causing the utmost difficulty to the gentleman who was trying to reach me (and who of course was a member of the Academy). Obviously nobody here has recognized you, I thought at once, except for this gentleman. By the time he reached my place all eyes were fixed on me—and what reproachful, penetrating looks they gave me! An academy that gives me a prize and doesn’t know me from Adam, and then sends me reproachful, penetrating looks because I haven’t made myself known, deserves to be treated with even greater contempt, I thought. Finally the gentleman pointed out to me that my proper place was not where I was sitting but in the front row beside the minister, so would I please go to the front row and sit next to her. I did not obey, because the request was made in a rather disagreeable and arrogant tone, and with such a sickening assurance of victory that, to preserve my self-respect, I had to refuse to accompany him toward the dais. Herr Hunger himself should come, I said; it was for the president of the Academy himself, not just anybody, to invite me to approach the dais. It would have given me the greatest pleasure to get up and leave the Academy of Sciences with my friends, without receiving the prize. But I stayed where I was. I was locked in my own cage. There was no way out. I had made a cage for myself out of the Academy of Sciences. Finally the president of the Academy came down and accompanied me toward the dais. No sooner had I sat down next to the minister than my friend Paul, unable to contain himself any longer, burst into a peal of laughter that shook the whole room and continued until the Philharmonic began to play. A few speeches were made about Grillparzer and a few words said about me. Altogether the talking went on for an hour; as is customary on such occasions, there was far too much talking, and naturally it was all nonsense. The minister slept through the speeches, snoring audibly, and woke up only when the Philharmonic struck up again. When the ceremony was over, as many people as possible crowded round the minister and President Hunger. No one took any further notice of me. Before my friends and I left the assembly room, I heard the minister cry out: Where’s the budding poet? By this time I had had enough and left the Academy of Sciences as fast as I could. No money and being pissed on—that was intolerable. I ran out into the street, more or less dragging my friends after me, and I can still hear Paul saying to me as we left: You’ve let yourself be abused! These people have pissed on you! It’s true, I thought, they really have pissed on you. They’ve pissed on you again, as always. But you allowed yourself to be pissed on, I thought, and, what’s more, in the Viennese Academy of Sciences. Before going to the Sacher with my friends to digest this whole perverse prize-giving procedure over a boiled fillet of beef, I went back to the outfitter’s in the Kohlmarkt where I had bought my new suit before the ceremony. I told them that it was too tight and I wanted a new one. I said this with such insolent emphasis that the staff did not demur, but at once set about finding me a new suit. I took one or two off the rack and tried them on, finally choosing the most comfortable. I paid a small additional sum and kept the suit on. When I was back in the street, it struck me that before long somebody else would be running around in Vienna in the suit I had worn for the conferment of the Grillparzer Prize at the Academy of Sciences. The thought amused me. I had equally clear evidence of Paul’s strength of character on another occasion, when I received the State Prize for Literature (long before the Grillparzer Prize). This ended in what the newspapers called a scandal. The encomium delivered by the minister in the audience chamber of the ministry was utter nonsense, because he merely read out from a sheet of paper what had been written down for him by one of his officials charged with literary affairs. He said, for instance, that I had written a novel about the south seas, which of course I had not. And although I have been an Austrian all my life, the minister stated that I was Dutch. He also stated that I specializedin adventure novels, though this was news to me. More than once during his encomium he said that I was a foreigner, a visitor to Austria. By this stage I was no longer annoyed by the idiocies he read out. I knew that this imbecile from Styria could not be blamed, because before becoming a minister he had been secretary to the Chamber of Agriculture in Graz, with special responsibility for stock breeding. Stupidity was written all over his face, as it is over the faces of all ministers without exception. It was distasteful, but not annoying, and I was able to endure his speech without difficulty. It then fell to me to say a few words, by way of thanks for the prize, as it were. Just before the ceremony, in great haste and with the greatest reluctance, I had jotted down a few sentences, amounting to a small philosophical digression, the upshot of which was that man was a wretched creature and death a certainty. After I had delivered my speech, which lasted altogether no more than three minutes, the minister, who had understood nothing of what I had said, indignantly jumped up from his seat and shook his fist in my face. Snorting with rage, he called me a curr in front of the whole assembly and then left the chamber, slamming the glass door behind him with such force that it shattered into a thousand fragments. Everybody present jumped up and watched in astonishment as the minister stormed out. For a moment complete silence reigned, as they say. And then the strangest thing happened: the whole assembly, whom I can describe only as an opportunistic rabble, rushed after the minister, though not without shouting curses and brandishing their fists at me as they went. I clearly remember the clenched fist that Herr Henz, the president of the Art Senate, brandished at me, and all the other marks of respect I was shown at that moment, as the whole assembly, consisting of a few hundred kept artists, most of them writers—colleagues of mine, one might say—together with their hangers-on, raced through the shattered glass door in pursuit of the minister. I will refrain from mentioning names, as I have no wish to appear in court over such a ludicrous matter, but they were the best known, most celebrated, and most respected names in Austrian letters. They all raced out of the audience chamber and down the stairs after the minister, leaving me standing there with my companion. Like a leper. None of them stayed behind with us; they all rushed out, past the buffet that had been prepared for them, and followed the minister down the stairs—all except Paul. He was the only one who stayed with me and my companion, horrified, yet at the same time amused, by the incident. Later, when they could safely do so, a few of those who had at first disappeared slunk back and joined me in the audience chamber. This little group finally got around to discussing where to go for a meal in order to choke down the whole ridiculous episode. Years later Paul and I would go through the names of those who had raced after this brainless Styrian politician in their unscrupulous subservience to the state and its ministers, and we knew why each of them had done so. The following day the Austrian newspapers carried reports of how Bernhard the nest fouler had insulted the minister, when in fact the opposite was the case: the minister Piffl-Perčević had insulted the writer Thomas Bernhard. However, the event drew fitting comment abroad, where people do not have to rely on the Austrian ministries and their involvement in artistic subventions. Accepting a prize is in itself an act of perversity, my friend Paul told me at the time, but accepting a state prize is the greatest.

BINGHAM, Howard. National guardsman on Detroit street during race riots [Detroit Rebellion]. Detroit, Michigan, 1967, Time & Life Pictures, fotografia/photograph, 1967
BINGHAM, Howard. National guardsman on Detroit street during race riots [Detroit Rebellion]. Detroit, Michigan, 1967, Time & Life Pictures, fotografia/photograph, 1967
BINGHAM, Howard. National guardsman on Detroit street during race riots [Detroit Rebellion]. Detroit, Michigan, 1967, Time & Life Pictures, fotografia/photograph, 1967
BINGHAM, Howard. National guardsman on Detroit street during race riots [Detroit Rebellion]. Detroit, Michigan, 1967, Time & Life Pictures, fotografia/photograph, 1967
BIRTCHNELL, Thomas, SAVITZKY, Satya, URRY, John. Cargomobilities, Moving materials in a global age, Routledge, 2015. pp.1-5  

This movement across the sea enabled Europeans to ‘procure treasures from other parts of the world’, and inspired Sturm to honour those ‘who are obliged to brave the seas, and undertake long and dangerous voyages for the benefit of society, and consequently for our particular profit’.

Moving cargos

Thomas Birtchnell, Satya Savitzky and John Urry

Taking stock

Alongside musings on anatomy, the ‘utility of forests’, comets and the ‘prodigious number of plants on the earth’, eighteenth-century thinker Christoph Christian Sturm’s Reflections on the Works of God in Nature and Providence marvelled at two phenomena that were greatly boosting global trade. The first was the compass which gave direction even on the darkest nights and cloudiest of days in the midst of the ocean. The second was the ‘miraculous’ advantage that the sea lent to moving goods as compared with land. Sturm reflects that a body of water ‘is not more loaded with the ship and her cargo, than it was with the water which the ship removes from the places which she occupies’. This movement across the sea enabled Europeans to ‘procure treasures from other parts of the world’, and inspired Sturm to honour those ‘who are obliged to brave the seas, and undertake long and dangerous voyages for the benefit of society, and consequently for our particular profit’.

In the contemporary ‘global age’ combined elements facilitate transoceanic trade utilising digital global positioning systems and ships increasingly built upon a truly massive scale. Currently the largest cargo ship is the 400 metre-long and 59 metre-wide Maersk Triple E class with a capacity of 18,000 20-foot containers (twenty-foot equivalent unit, or TEU). To put this into perspective, the ‘Halsewell’ trading ship painted by J.M.W. Turner and sunk in 1786, the same year that Sturm died, was 42.5 metres long and 11 metres wide. It could only have carried approximately 14 modern cargo containers. The innovations described by Sturm have evolved into a global system comprising around 6,000 container ships and various air, rail and road networks, which contingently supply those living in the rich North with an estimated 90 per cent of ‘everything’. Scale makes a difference.

Each day a vast, ‘orderly disorder’ of all sorts of non-human – and sometimes human – traffic circulates the world as cargo: home appliances, vehicles, electronics, parts, animals, foods, fuels, toys, clothes, building materials, ‘wastes’, weapons, illicit drugs and ‘illegal’ migrants – just some of the ‘moving materials’ that are central to modern social and economic life. In turn, an assortment of other objects and materials are mobilised and immobilised as part of keeping cargo on the move. Indeed, this book’s subtitle (‘moving materials in a global age’) is intended to include that which moves with cargo, such as containers, trucks, trains, ships, seafarers and ‘invasive species’. These (im)mobilities also include various leaks and seeps such as oil spills and plastics accumulations, the ‘accidental’ by-products of contemporary cargo systems.

Cargomobilities and their supporting infrastructures form part of a ‘technological unconscious’, which only becomes registered at points of disruption or disaster, such as an Icelandic volcano or a container shipwreck off a Devon beach. Yet the ‘hidden’ character of these cargo relays and routeways belies the utter dependence of modern societies on these circuitous paths and flows. The global traffic of objects and materials is by no means ‘new’, but previously it was mainly unusual and expensive items such as spices and silk that were traded internationally (e.g. along the famous Silk Road and Spice Routes), and consumers in rich countries had to wait very patiently indeed for long-awaited goods to arrive. Today it is routine for people at least in the rich North to consume many different goods that are manufactured far away. The continuous, rapid, networked and energy-dense mobilities of objects and materials are specific to contemporary ‘disorganised’ capitalism, marked by rising inequalities of income, new kinds of well-being and the proliferation of ever-more consumer goods and experiences.

The industry of logistics, which simply put is the management of the movement of things, was thought to have a value of US$3.9 trillion by 2013. Logistics, together with finance and extraction, is at the heart of contemporary capitalism. Logistics now both underpins and manages the global organisation of trade. Yet logistics remains comparatively under-researched in the social sciences. Jasper Bernes argues that the (more well-documented) process of financialisation ‘had as its hidden counterpart a massive investment of capital in the... sphere of commodity (rather than money) circulation...through a build-out in the form of tankers, port complexes, railyards, robotically-controlled distribution centers, and the digital and network technology needed to manage the increased volume and complexity of trade. The shipping container and the commodity future were thus complementary technical innovations...’

Some state that there is now a greater fortune to be made in moving goods than in making them. Indeed, the very distinction between moving and making, or production and distribution, is ‘under conceptual attack’, as manufacture becomes ‘...merely one moment in a continuous Heraclitean flux’. Logistics origins were military, but its development has resulted from commercial imperatives to accelerate the turnover of goods, to cut production costs (by relocating manufacturing to where wages are low and regulations lax), and to eliminate many forms of friction and insecurity that beset globalised or ‘stretched-out’ production processes. Logistics makes possible ‘neoliberal’ institutional and policy reforms which involve ‘opening up’ foreign markets and globalising finance and trade. These economic shifts cannot be understood without attending to material infrastructures, or the matter arranged to enable the movement of other matter. Infrastructures have produced dizzying and dislocating effects and are of the utmost importance due to their resource implications and fateful environmental consequences.

The most significant of these infrastructures is what we can term ‘containerisation’. Containerisation has enabled offshoring of production, major accelerations in the throughput of material objects through cities and centres of consumption, and a global but highly unevenly distributed ‘consumer culture’ [...] its pivotal role in reshaping societies, economies and geographies, but also the many instabilities and insecurities that accompany this supposedly ‘smooth’ system.

The smooth system

Malcolm McLean is normally credited with inventing containerisation in 1954, but a container system was used previously by the US military during World War II. McLean’s container system was then enlisted by US forces in Vietnam, demonstrating containerisation’s efficiency and helping establish it as the hegemonic system of cargo distribution in the latter part of the twentieth century. Such containers, steel boxes of standard dimensions, could be moved relatively simply between different forms of transport and between vehicles on land and sea. Containerisation effectively automated loading/unloading routines, eliminating a major source of ‘friction’ (human labour) in the global movement of commodities. Workers needed to be paid, were slower, and could make health and safety demands, and were thus a key ‘chokepoint’ in the circulation of commodities.

A central feature of logistics is the drive to maximise the capacities of existing infrastructures. Unlike ‘top-down’ national infrastructures such as some railway systems that were built more-or-less from scratch, containerisation is an emergent global system which ‘piggy-backs’ on top of existing infrastructures. Rather than the creation of new transport technologies, containerisation – or intermodalism – involves the repurposing of existing forms, bringing trucks, trains and ships into a single system by ‘smoothing’ the interfaces between them, and by reorganising material flows through information and communication technologies (ICTs). Huge multimodal port complexes become the crucial nodes in this mobility system, which aspires to erase distinctions between land and sea and integrate production and consumption, so as to establish a continuous and ‘global surface of logistical integration’.

While marketing, advertising and the local high street seem a million miles away from factories, assembly lines and container ports, in fact they are inextricably entwined through supply-chain management techniques. Containerisation involves integrating manufacturing and retail through various digital systems and innovations in computer modelling. It involves the continuous monitoring of point-of-sales data, inventory, worker routines, weather and traffic patterns, and many other variables in a never-ending quest to find the ‘cheapest, fastest path to making and distributing products’. An increasing ‘granularity of representation’ – made possible by innovations such as RFID (radio frequency identification) technology – enables the tracking and tracing of ever-more processes, so ‘fine-tuning’ most aspects of production, distribution and consumption. This ability to track so comprehensively presupposes an extensive network of Earth-orbiting satellites. Walmart, a firm whose business model and organisational format is entirely dependent on containerisation, owns the largest civilian satellite network in space, second only to the US military. ‘What appears on the horizon’, argues Brian Holmes, ‘is a self-shaping or “autopoietic” modelling process that can integrate hundreds of millions of individuals and billions of discrete objects into a single mobility-system, where every movement is coordinated with every other in real time’.

Containerisation greatly reduces transportation costs, enabling the off- shoring of manufacturing and the integration of dispersed spaces and activities into shifting global production networks. Massive bulk retailers such as Walmart depend on the container revolution for the cost of shipping goods in containers being between 1 and 2 per cent of retail value, 90 per cent less than before containerisation. Containerisation and the rise of China to become the world’s second largest economy are indelibly linked. Worldwide much manufacturing and related CO2 emissions are outsourced to China, China produces many of the 100,000 or so containers manufactured yearly, and it is developing a logistics infrastructure as a major focus of its international economic activity.

‘In today’s globalized economy’ argues Leonard, ‘a product’s supply chain can cover multiple continents and scores of businesses, each of which is trying to maximize its profit at that link in the chain’. Yet the global dispersal of production has gone hand in hand with a concentration of power in the hands of retailers, who control product design and are able to terminate contracts and flexibly switch between suppliers to benefit from more advantageous terms. Multinational firms have in a sense become branding operations. Logistics enables ‘agility’, ‘the power to change, as quickly as possible, the speed, location, origin and destination of products, as well as product type, in order to meet volatile market conditions’.

The entire system is geared towards keeping goods in motion, circumventing obstacles, and closing the gaps between production and consumption. Goods that are not moving mean that money is lost, immobility is figured as waste. Containerisation helps in constructing an apparently ‘smooth’ system based on low levels of storage and continual flows of cargo with goods constantly on the move. This cargo system underpins consumption practices centred on rapid cycles of product innovation and obsolescence. The imperative to keep goods on the move has produced novel spatial shifts; giant container ships have effectively become the ‘floating warehouses’ of this ‘just-in-time’ system. Factories, by contrast, are increasingly ‘resembling ships, stealing away in search of ever-cheaper labour’.

BLANCHOT, Maurice. [1980] L´Écriture du Désastre, Éditons Gallimmard, 1991, p.9

Rien ne suffit au désastre; ce qui veut dire que, de même que la destruction dans sa pureté de ruine ne lui convient pas, de même l'idée de totalité ne saurait marquer ses limites: toutes choses atteintes et détruites, les dieux et les hommes reconduits à l'absence, le néant à la place de tout, c'est trop et trop peu.

L´écriture du désastre

Maurice Blanchot

Si le désastre signifie être séparé́ de l'étoile (le déclin qui marque l'égarement lorsque s'est interrompu le rapport avec le hasard d'en haut), il indique la chute sous la nécessité désastreuse. La loi serait-elle le désastre, la loi suprême ou extrême, l'excessif de la loi non codifiable : ce à quoi nous sommes destinés sans être concernés? Le désastre ne nous regarde pas, il est l'illimité sans regard, ce qui ne peut se mesurer en terme d'échec ni comme la perte pure et simple.

Rien ne suffit au désastre; ce qui veut dire que, de même que la destruction dans sa pureté de ruine ne lui convient pas, de même l'idée de totalité ne saurait marquer ses limites: toutes choses atteintes et détruites, les dieux et les hommes reconduits à l'absence, le néant à la place de tout, c'est trop et trop peu. [...] Le désastre dont il faudrait atténuer - en la renforçant - la couleur noire, nous expose à une certaine idée de la passivité. Nous sommes passifs par rapport au désastre, mais le désastre est peut-être la passivité, en cela passé et toujours passé.

BM BLOB. [1982] "MALVINAS PARA LOS PINGÜINOS"—"VICTORY TO THE SHEEP" (Anti war slogans) in Like a Summer With 1000 Julys and Other Seasons… An Overview Of The Early 1980s Strikes and Riots In The UK, Libcom. pp. 116-119

“Malvinas Para Los Pingüinos”—“Victory to the Sheep”

“Malvinas Para Los Pingüinos”—“Victory to the Sheep” (Anti War Slogans)

BM BLOB

In the exceptionally severe winter of 1886 unemployed building workers and others rioted in central London. Engels condemned the “opportunism” of William Morris and sundry that saw in these unemployed battles “the first skirmish of the revolution”. They were, according to Engels, the work of desperate riff-raff on “the borderland between the working class and lumpenproletariat—ready for any ‘lark’ up to a wild riot apropos de rien.” Drifting back into the East End the unemployed numbering some 20,000 rattled off a chorus or two of Rule Britannia.

This other sea borne ‘national anthem’ has once again been heard wishing the fleet well as it sailed for the Falklands/Malvinas or rather the Penguin Isles. On a London bus a graffiti read “Skinheads fight for your country, go to the Falklands” and the number of applicants applying to the naval recruiting office in High Holborn zoomed up. When asked on a radio programme if these included unemployed skool leavers, a spokesman with a kilo of plums in his mouth answered, “We are not a recruiting office for unemployables.”

This cold-water reply sets limits to the hot-blooded nationalism of the phantom spray can writer. Together they reflect the potency and limitations of this ad hoc response to the conflict in the south Atlantic, which the state has used to the utmost, tapping both popular imperial residues and the legacy of anti fascism deriving from World War Two. Set beside other memories retrieved from the historical deeps, Maggie Thatcher on the even of the Mark No 1 Task Force setting sail opportunely quoted Queen Victoria. “Failure? The possibility does not exist.” However against memories of Drake and other expeditionary forces sent to sort out some corner of a far-flung empire, were mingled allusions to the Dover Patrol of the Second World War and an anti fascist resistance.

Behind the irrelevant and anachronistic facade of territorial imperialism or righteous anti fascism, the hidden purpose of the war is to disorientate the proletariat. Never at any time in the past has the fleet so explicitly put to sea to prevent the proletariat from setting sail in its own drunken boat. To the aft of the unexpected show of strength mounted by the Task Force lies the fear of riots, strikes and a dissident youth whose aggressive energy needs to be nailed with official blessing to the mast of hooligan patriotism. The unrelenting media swamp operation has drowned any mention (until June) of three days of heavy rioting in Liverpool, and has only partially succeeded in jamming the trouble in the health service, the support striking miners have already given nurses, and the promise of more aid to come from steel workers and water workers. A national dock strike was narrowly averted and massive trouble on the railways threatens. Apart from the hospitals these struggles are-not about higher pay, raising questions of class solidarity, unemployment and the erosion of working conditions (e.g. the Wandsworth refuse collectors strike against competitive tendering). Counteracting the drift to class unity is the British Bulldog divisiveness created by the south Atlantic war. Suddenly racial, regional/national differences have taken on an importance once more. Military success has mesmerised many a skinhead. A year ago they ached to trash rich suburbs and were putting out feelers to young blacks who look on the Penguin Isles as just another piece of land. Irish proletarians who over the last few years have never made a big thing out of being Irish, lowered their voices, wary lest anyone think them unpatriotic and northerners became somewhat ‘suspect’ as ‘socialist’ by the ‘loyalist’ south. All this old divide and rule crap has reared its head again but now without any substance to sustain it for any length of time.

The war in the south Atlantic had from the British Government’s point of view to be sold as a just war. This is the key to the anti fascist rhetoric, references to D-Day landings, The Longest Day, Poland 1939 etc. But the real effect of this propaganda will be felt in Latin America, not in the UK. At a stroke Thatcher ruined the US/Argentinean axis. As the former US Assistant Secretary of State William Rogers said: “We face the erosion if not the dismantlement of the entire inter-American system.” Thatcher however is supremely unaware that she might actually be fomenting revolution in Latin America. Formerly, British expeditionary forces were often as not despatched to put down popular rebellion. Now it is the reverse: success for the British military means fanning the flames of social revolution abroad. Lacking a worldview of likely causes and effects, the business in the south Atlantic is a parochial throw of the dice. It has in the UK been a spectator’s war, conveying an impression of effortless conflict meant to overawe the proletariat and restore the confidence of the British nation state accustomed to falling flat on its face. This was the pearl behind the successful storming of the penguins massed on South Georgia and the ludicrous despatch sent out by the Commander of the Fleet to Queen Liz. The only concession to anti fascist sentiment—excepting the rhetoric—has been the capture and bringing back of Capitano Alfredo Astiz, the notorious Argentinian torturer. All in all there are built-in limitations to the manipulation of the anti fascist heritage in the UK, which the state seems to recognise by not making much of. A tradition of armed guerrilla resistance to an indigenous fascist regime lending itself to manipulation by Secret Services through acts of terrorism is lacking. This rules out any slavish imitation of the Italian-style “strategy of tension” though the British state has not been averse to using terrorism when it saw fit. The British state has to extemporise ever anew, unable to hit on the right formula for containment. Penguin Islands were a gift horse all right, but how much more mileage can be got out of these remote islands? Interest wanes with victory and mass attention is beamed back from the south Atlantic to the social war within.

Insistent prodding shall keep alive the memory of these events. Threats, real or imagined, of a renewed invasion and bombing raids are going to mean the garrisoning of British troops on the Islands for some considerable time to come. A flotilla of boats large and small are likely to be kept on the ready in the south Atlantic. Cuts in naval expenditure shall be temporarily postponed and the rundown of naval dockyards in Chatham and Portsmouth (scenes of rioting in 1981) leading to the loss of 40,000 jobs deferred for a while. One third of the navy, prior to the conflict, was due to be scrapped and some 40 of the jolly jack tars who put to sea were clutching redundancy papers. 1000 professional soldiers were also, due to be laid off. No future but signing on the rock ‘n’ roll.

The navy was however going to bear the brunt of the cuts. Naval high commands threatened with imminent eclipse (minus subs) are staking their survival on this nostalgic Senior Service fag packet Armada silhouetted against westering guns more evocative of World War One than the nuclear/missile age. The rebuilding of the lost ships, the maintenance of an 8,000-mile supply line and the enormous cost of the war nearing two billion pounds will be paid for out of increased taxation and a further reduction in the social wage as money available for health care is snapped up by the armed forces. This is bound eventually to exacerbate still more the social crises, which just goes to show what a one-off adventure this has been. In the not so distant past, jingoism and gunboat diplomacy had to be paid for with increased welfare expenditure and domestic reform—the reverse of what is happening now.

The subversive process within has gone too far and bread and water phrases like “peace with honour” will do little to set back for any length of time the beginnings of a revolutionary unity and totality, the like of which the British proletariat has never experienced before.

The summer riots of 1981 were the foretaste of the future for us. One day sooner or later the roof is going to blow off the UK. Faced with an assertion like this most people in pubs, streets, supermarkets or at work tend to nod their heads. The old phlegmatic reassurances that “it can’t happen here” has finally gone—let it be forever.

BONAN, Jean-Denis, GARREL, Philippe, GODARD, Jean-Luc, MARKER, Chris, RESNAIS, Alain, et al. Ciné-tracts, 07:02 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1968
BONAN, Jean-Denis, GARREL, Philippe, GODARD, Jean-Luc, MARKER, Chris, RESNAIS, Alain, et al. Ciné-tracts, 07:02 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1968
BONAN, Jean-Denis, GARREL, Philippe, GODARD, Jean-Luc, MARKER, Chris, RESNAIS, Alain, et al. Ciné-tracts, 07:02 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1968
BONE, Ian. Bash the Rich, True-Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK, Tangent Books, 2006. pp. 153-194 

The real problem to them was the contradiction between being a band encouraging people to think for themselves resulting in the creation of hundreds of Crass clones saying 'we must think for ourselves.'
‘Why did the Crass Punk cross the road? Because Crass told him to.’

Bash the Rich

Ian Bone

WILD IN THE CITY

Two other events towards the end of 1983 led us to believe that Class War was reflecting a change in attitude away from pacifism towards the creation of a more combative social movement. On 29 September, the first Stop the City action had taken place outside the Mansion House. In many ways, it seemed like the dying embers of pacifism, non-violent direct action and the peace camps, to be followed only a few weeks later by the fighting in Hyde Park and six months later by the second Stop the City full-scale riot.

I'd written in an article entitled Wreck the City! in Class War No. 5 disparaging the pacifist Stop The City thus:

Standing outside the Mansion House at the Stop The City action on 29 September, things were looking well good. About 300 anarchists were chanting‘fuck off!’ as the toe rag of a Lady Lord Mayor was installed. The chances of inflicting some damage on the Old Bill and the rich brat stockbrokers they were protecting were looking very rosy. But then the dreaded ‘Upper Heyford disease,’ signs of which I had diagnosed earlier in the day, proved it was still at epidemic proportions among those present.

The main symptom of this wasting disease, which is 100% fatal, is a complete paralysis which makes resistance to the police impossible even when they are heavily outnumbered. The paralysis also attacks the brain resulting in its victims patting police horses, chatting to the filth and voluntarily getting themselves arrested in the absurd delusion that this constitutes ‘direct action’ of some kind. As sufferers of this dread disease were taken away for treatment, fellow sufferers made no attempt to pull or to attack the vans taking them to the treatment centres. At the end of the day, there was one broken window, no police or stockbrokers put in hospital, and 203 arrests! 203 arrests for one fucking broken window!

This was naturally hailed as a great success in the anarchist press, considered to be a far greater triumph than the Oxford Street fiasco the previous year when 48 anarchists were arrested for causing even less damage. Join the Class War mob at Stop the City on 29 March. If you want peace, prepare for war’.

[...]

There was limited time for self-congratulation though, as Stop The City No. 2 beckoned on 29 March. We knew this could be an important turning point for our movement and we played an active role in a series of meetings to plan the momentous event — with the usual violence versus pacifism debates to the fore. Subsequently Class War was often credited (or blamed) in the press with organising this Stop The City. This was far from the truth and, for once, we never played up our organising role. The real credit goes to London Greenpeace, Dave Morris, the Roseberry punks and countless unsung others. It was a fucking brilliant day when all our movement in its disparate forms was united in action for once.

I'd stayed at Adrienne's the night before and when I suggested bussing it down to the city at 9am, she expressed doubts anarchists could get up so early! It must be admitted it was odds on nothing much starting at an anarchist demo until mid-afternoon. We were on the bus into the city at 10am with no sign of anything at all to suggest Stop The City was happening. Adrienne was giving me the ‘I Told you so’ look when wham bam! A fucking huge forest of black flags legs it out of an alleyway in front of us hotly pursued by the cops in a pall of orange smoke. Fucking hell! Whoa, off the bus, let's get stuck in. I can’t beat the general descriptions of the day written by me and Martin in Class War No. 6. But other memories of little incidents were just as vital in gaining the feel of the events.

Roland, my old flatmate from Cardiff walking around, briefcase in hand, looking like a City yuppy. He gleefully opened his briefcase however to reveal a small arsenal — distress flares, smoke bombs, stink bombs, spray paint, glue.

Crass splattering the cops with red paint bombs. Nuns splattering the cops with red paint bombs — Crass nuns or nuns on the run? I get stuck in some static rucks outside the Royal Exchange. Ruck caves in on me and Attila the Stockbroker heaves me out with a happy Harlow grin on his face. A yuppy is chased into a wine bar by a gang of punks, one of whom throws a waste paper bin through the wine bar window.

There's hardly any sign of most of the Class War mob — Sean Mason couldn’t take the day off work! The rest are about getting stuck in but we don't operate as a cohesive unit. Me and Adrienne dive into a cafe midday for a coffee. A mohicanned punk is explaining to three young punkettes that things are going to get much livelier in the afternoon: ‘Yeah, Class War are coming down — they're fucking psychos, they're fucking mad, they've got machetes and guns, there's going to be fucking carnage everywhere’. We keep a low profile as we don’t really look like the psychotic Class Warriors he's expecting.

Autonomous groups are causing grief everywhere. The mob from Llandeilo, who stayed with us the night before, are heading up to Fleet Street to go on a window trashing spree. We survey their splintered handiwork with pride later.

The Jethros — a well tasty mob of old hippies from Exeter — are going up the West End to start trashing Oxford Street, waterfalls of glass cascading everywhere. The Jethros had some idea about crashing a load of cars together at the junction of Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road and torching them but they're talked out of it in case innocent bystanders get blown away. One of them mutters Emile Henri's famous ‘There are no innocents!’ The Jethros line was either fight with us or get what's coming to you. Oxford Street is duly trashed. All the out-of-towners act the same, forming little hit squads with their mates, coalescing, melting away and striking again. The cops are ill-prepared for the diversity of the actions and completely taken by surprise.

Charlie’s brick is my outstanding memory of the day. We're part of a mob charging down Fenchurch Street with black flags flying like a Makhnovist column — unfortunately, unlike the Makhnovists, we ain't got any weapons. There's not many weapons that come to hand in the City, and the cops have taken care to remove street furniture and builders' rubble. But look! I kid you not — a fucking lorry load of bricks hones into view. A swarm of anarcho-locusts strip it bare within minutes, windows caving in like dominoes along the street. There's some fucking huge bank windows about 50 foot high, but some proletarian typists are sitting just behind them, blissfully ignorant that they're about to be guillotined by huge shards of glass. Charlie does his Marcel Marceau bit, bangs in window to get typists' attention, points to brick in his hand, steps back and mimes throwing brick through window. Typists scarper sharpish. Charlie's brick arcs its mime through the window. A huge whoop at such ethical brick-throwing and we're off.

Smoke everywhere. We meet some fucking giant wearing Spanish republican military uniform, coughing his guts up. He gets a flask of milky coffee out from his knapsack that his mum had made for him. He takes size 16 shoes his name is Juan Zapata, he carries a CNT pennant on a stick. Style or what. He is well impressed we're from Class War and we're quite impressed with him. We'll meet again.

Stop The City completed the transformation from pacifism. Things would never be the same again until the fluffies reared their heads in the 1990s.

[...]

In May 1985, there was an ‘alternative’ rally at the Friends Meeting House addressed by Tony Benn and 'Red' Ted Knight, Leader of the Lambeth Council. The week before, Knight had evicted the squatters from Effra Parade in Brixton using baton-wielding riot police. Errol, Franco and other Class War supporters had been involved in resisting the eviction and considered it a fucking disgrace for Ted Knight to be passing himself off as some kind of radical only a week later. About 20 of us turned up demanding Benn remove Knight from chairing the meeting and the Effra squatters got a chance to speak. Benn, the aristocratic phoney whose hero status on the British left for decades speaks volumes about the poverty of radicalism in the UK, denounced us as ‘fascists’ and said the miners present would ‘sort us out’. Unfortunately, these horny-handed sons of toil and aristocrats of the proletariat were all sitting alongside us reading Class War! Knight mobilised a load of billowy-trousered ‘healers’ (yes it was a fucking odd audience!) to surround us singing peace songs to remove our bad karma violent vibes. It was a bizarre sight seeing this old school tankie and ex-Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP) hack enlisting the help of the crystal therapy brigade to sort us out. This might have worked with the usual anarchists but not with us! Charlie hurled an apple at Ted Knight — which was caught by a Green Party type on the platform and eaten — well stylish! Then we rushed the stage. The tables went flying, microphones used as weapons, and Ian Slaughter pulled out his steel comb which glinting in the sunlight may well have looked like a knife. Either way the platform fled, the squatters said a few and we legged it over to the Eliza Doolittle pub opposite to sit in watching the wailing cop cars arrive.

[...]

WE VISIT CRASS

After STC2when Crass had put themselves about to such good effect, Ron, Charlie, Gareth and Sean paid a visit to the legendary North farmhouse to smooth over any remaining differences or past misunderstandings between us. It has to be admitted that the make-up of our high powered negotiating team left something to be desired: no women and three paid up members of the Masonite tendency. The leader himself was cracking jokes about black rags hanging on the washing line and lentil stew for tea. Charlie was prevailed upon to leave his bar of soap (which he wielded like a cross at Dracula) on the train. Andy Palmer picked us up from the station and sure enough as we neared the house we could see black uniforms flapping in the wind, and on entry — a bubbling cauldron of lentil stew to sniggers from the Masonites. This could be far from a meeting of minds I thought looking to Gareth the Mr. Sensible of our party. However, things went out rather well.

We were warmly and hospitably received by the full crew. There was no doubt that some members of the band had dramatically changed away from pacifism during the last two years — their support for the striking miners and STC being indicative of this. Phil Free, Andy Palmer, Penny Rimbaud, Steve Ignorant and Gee Vaucher spent the whole day nutting the violence/non-violence issue out with us. Penny seemed to be starting on the long road towards support for Angry Brigade-style tactics. We encouraged Crass to come to our conferences, the Bash the Rich marches and Henley Regatta. Once Sean Mason and the others had got into long and genuine political discussion with Crass attitudes changed on both sides with respect for each others commitment. Sean refused to eat the lentil stew on ethical grounds but we squeezed a grudging: “Their music's shit, their clothes are shit and they're dirt crustie hippies, but...” out of him on the train back to civilisation. And things flowed from there onwards. Phil Free came to our Big Caxton Hall rally and some plans were developed by Crass for the Henley Regatta which never quite came to fruition but which would have been fairly spectacular.

Penny and Gee in particular dealt with the reasons the band was ending in 1984 as long promised. The real problem to them was the contradiction between being a band encouraging people to think for themselves resulting in the creation of hundreds of Crass clones saying 'we must think for ourselves.'

‘Why did the Crass Punk cross the road? Because Crass told him to.’ had got too close to reality and they honourably kept to their finish date. I went up from Swansea with Mamf to their last gig at the Colosseum in Aberdare during the miners' strike. It had been arranged by my old mate Paul Pritchard from Cardiff and I'd wondered if Aberdare would take the expected punk influx better than Maesteg had an influx of hippies 20 years earlier! We arrived about 4.30 and dived into the pub next door to the closed doors of The Colosseum. The landlord was staring out of the windows at the punks as if they'd arrived from Planet Zarg!

‘Look at that lot’ he said to me confidentially like I was his new best friend. ‘I ain't letting them in.’ None of the locals seemed to know anything about it being a miners’ benefit . It was just another gig — could've been Man from Swansea or Budgie from Cardiff for all they knew. We told him it was a benefit for the miners and the punks would drink lots of cider... He relented. By the time the gig was due to start the pub was awash with punks, miners and the locals getting on in storming fashion. I remember one miner greasing up his hair into a Mohican! ‘Our class in all its diverse glory’ I whispered sentimentally to Mamf.

Stop the City 2. The Stop the City demonstrations of 1983 and 1984 were described as a 'Carnival Against War, Oppression and Destruction.' «The plan was to bring together the radical end of the peace—ecology—“third world”— and anarchist movements to attack the root cause of all their problems — Capital — by attacking the heart of finance. [...] an uneasy alliance of radical liberals and anarchists. The main problem was the issue of “violence” — many pacifists were worried that people might defend themselves against police attacks/arrests and buildings could be damaged by “violence (sic) against property” (libcom.org). [N.E]

BONE, Ian. BOMBS NOT JOBS, cartaz de tounée da banda Living Legends/tour poster, Setembro/September 1981.
BONE, Ian. BOMBS NOT JOBS, cartaz de tounée da banda Living Legends/tour poster, Setembro/September 1981.
BONE, Ian. BOMBS NOT JOBS, cartaz de tounée da banda Living Legends/tour poster, Setembro/September 1981.
BONE, Ian. BOMBS NOT JOBS, cartaz de tounée da banda Living Legends/tour poster, Setembro/September 1981.
BORGES, Jorge Luis. [1950] La Muralla y Los Libros in Obras Completas II: Otras Inquisiciones (1952), Editorial Planeta, 2007. pp.13–15

Leí, días pasados, que el hombre que ordenó la edificación de la casi infinita muralla china fue aquel primer emperador, Shih Huang Ti, que asimismo dispuso que se quemaran todos los libros anteriores a él. Que las dos vastas operaciones –las quinientas a seiscientas leguas de piedra opuestas a los bárbaros, la rigurosa abolición de la historia, es decir del pasado– procedieran de una persona y fueran de algún modo sus atributos, inexplicablemente me satisfizo y, a la vez, me inquietó.
[...]
Acaso la muralla fue una metáfora, acaso Shih Huang Ti condenó a quienes adoraban el pasado a una obra tan vasta como el pasado, tan torpe y tan inútil. Acaso la muralla fue un desafío y Shih Huang Ti pensó: “Los hombres aman el pasado y contra ese amor nada puedo, ni pueden mis verdugos, pero alguna vez habrá un hombre que sienta como yo, y ése destruirá mi muralla, como yo he destruido los libros, y ése borrará mi memoria y será mi sombra y mi espejo y no lo sabrá”.

La Muralla y Los Libros

Jorge Luis Borges 

Leí, días pasados, que el hombre que ordenó la edificación de la casi infinita muralla china fue aquel primer emperador, Shih Huang Ti, que asimismo dispuso que se quemaran todos los libros anteriores a él. Que las dos vastas operaciones –las quinientas a seiscientas leguas de piedra opuestas a los bárbaros, la rigurosa abolición de la historia, es decir del pasado– procedieran de una persona y fueran de algún modo sus atributos, inexplicablemente me satisfizo y, a la vez, me inquietó.  Indagar las razones de esa emoción es el fin de esta nota.
Históricamente, no hay misterio en las dos medidas. Contemporáneo de las guerras de Aníbal, Shih Huang Ti, rey de Tsin, redujo a su poder los Seis Reinos y borró el sistema feudal: erigió la muralla, porque las murallas eran defensas; quemó los libros, porque la oposición los invocaba para alabar a los antiguos emperadores. Quemar libros y erigir fortificaciones es tarea común de los príncipes; lo único singular en Shih Huang Ti fue la escala en que obró. Así lo dejan entender algunos sinólogos, pero yo siento que los hechos que he referido son algo más que una exageración o una hipérbole de disposiciones triviales. Cercar un huerto o un jardín es común; no, cercar un imperio. Tampoco es baladí pretender que la más tradicional de las razas renuncie a la memoria de su pasado, mítico o verdadero. Tres mil años de cronología tenían los chinos (y en esos años, el Emperador Amarillo y Chuang Tzu y Confucio y Lao Tzu), cuando Shih Huang Ti ordenó que la historia comenzara con él.
Shih Huang Ti había desterrado a su madre por libertina; en su dura justicia, los ortodoxos no vieron otra cosa que una impiedad; Shih Huang Ti, tal vez, quiso borrar los libros canónigos porque éstos lo acusaban; Shih Huang Ti, tal vez, quiso abolir todo el pasado para abolir un solo recuerdo; la infamia de su madre. (No de otra suerte un rey, en Judea, hizo matar a todos los niños para matar a uno.) Esta conjetura es atendible, pero nada nos dice de la muralla, de la segunda cara del mito. Shih Huang Ti, según los historiadores, prohibió que se mencionara la muerte y buscó el elixir de la inmortalidad y se recluyó en un palacio figurativo, que constaba de tantas habitaciones como hay días en el año; estos datos sugieren que la muralla en el espacio y el incendio en el tiempo fueron barreras mágicas destinadas a detener la muerte. Todas las cosas quieren persistir en su ser, ha escrito Baruch Spinoza; quizá el Emperador y sus magos creyeron que la inmortalidad es intrínseca y que la corrupción no puede entrar en un orbe cerrado. Quizá el Emperador quiso recrear el principio del tiempo y se llamó Primero, para ser realmente primero, y se llamó Huang Ti, para ser de algún modo Huang Ti, el legendario emperador que inventó la escritura y la brújula. Este, según el Libro de los ritos, dio su nombre verdadero a las cosas; parejamente Shih Huang Ti se jactó, en inscripciones que perduran, de que todas las cosas, bajo su imperio, tuvieran el nombre que les conviene. Soñó fundar una dinastía inmortal; ordenó que sus herederos se llamaran Segundo Emperador, Tercer Emperador, Cuarto Emperador, y así hasta lo infinito... He hablado de un propósito mágico; también cabría suponer que erigir la muralla y quemar los libros no fueron actos simultáneos. Esto (según el orden que eligiéramos) nos daría la imagen de un rey que empezó por destruir y luego se resignó a conservar, o la de un rey desengañado que destruyó lo que antes defendía. Ambas conjeturas son dramáticas, pero carecen, que yo sepa, de base histórica. Herbert Allen Giles cuenta que quienes ocultaron libros fueron marcados con un hierro candente y condenados a construir, hasta el día de su muerte, la desaforada muralla. Esta noticia favorece o tolera otra interpretación. Acaso la muralla fue una metáfora, acaso Shih Huang Ti condenó a quienes adoraban el pasado a una obra tan vasta como el pasado, tan torpe y tan inútil. Acaso la muralla fue un desafío y Shih Huang Ti pensó: “Los hombres aman el pasado y contra ese amor nada puedo, ni pueden mis verdugos, pero alguna vez habrá un hombre que sienta como yo, y ése destruirá mi muralla, como yo he destruido los libros, y ése borrará mi memoria y será mi sombra y mi espejo y no lo sabrá”. Acaso Shih Huang Ti amuralló el imperio porque sabía que éste era deleznable y destruyó los libros por entender que eran libros sagrados, o sea libros que enseñan lo que enseña el universo entero o la conciencia de cada hombre. Acaso el incendio de las bibliotecas y la edificación de la muralla son operaciones que de un modo secreto se anulan.
La muralla tenaz que en este momento, y en todos, proyecta sobre tierras que no veré su sistema de sombras es la sombra de un César que ordenó que la más reverente de las naciones quemara su pasado; es verosímil que la idea nos toque de por sí, fuera de las conjeturas que permite. (Su virtud puede estar en la oposición de construir y destruir, en enorme escala.) Generalizando el caso anterior, podríamos inferir que todas las formas tienen su virtud en sí mismas y no en un “contenido” conjetural. Eso concordaría con la tesis de Benedetto Croce; ya Pater, en 1877, afirmó que todas las artes aspiran a la condición de la música, que no es otra cosa que forma. La música, los estados de la felicidad, la mitología, las caras trabajadas por el tiempo, ciertos crepúsculos y ciertos lugares, quieren decirnos algo, o algo dijeron que no hubiéramos debido perder, o están por decir algo; esta inminencia de una revelación, que no se produce, es, quizá, el hecho estético.

Buenos Aires, 1950.

BORGES, Jorge Luis. [1960] Del Rigor en la Ciencia in Obras Completas II: Museo, Editorial Planeta, 2007. p.265

…En aquel Imperio, el Arte de la Cartografía logró tal Perfección que el mapa de una sola Provincia ocupaba toda una Ciudad, y el mapa del Imperio, toda una Provincia. Con el tiempo, estos Mapas Desmesurados no satisficieron y los Colegios de Cartógrafos levantaron un Mapa del Imperio, que tenía el tamaño del Imperio y coincidía puntualmente con él. Menos Adictas al Estudio de la Cartografía, las Generaciones Siguientes entendieron que ese dilatado Mapa era Inútil y no sin Impiedad lo entregaron a las Inclemencias del Sol y los Inviernos. En los desiertos del Oeste perduran despedazadas Ruinas del Mapa, habitadas por Animales y por Mendigos; en todo el País no hay otra reliquia de las Disciplinas Geográficas.

Del rigor en la ciencia

Jorge Luis Borges

…En aquel Imperio, el Arte de la Cartografía logró tal Perfección que el mapa de una sola Provincia ocupaba toda una Ciudad, y el mapa del Imperio, toda una Provincia. Con el tiempo, estos Mapas Desmesurados no satisficieron y los Colegios de Cartógrafos levantaron un Mapa del Imperio, que tenía el tamaño del Imperio y coincidía puntualmente con él. Menos Adictas al Estudio de la Cartografía, las Generaciones Siguientes entendieron que ese dilatado Mapa era Inútil y no sin Impiedad lo entregaron a las Inclemencias del Sol y los Inviernos. En los desiertos del Oeste perduran despedazadas Ruinas del Mapa, habitadas por Animales y por Mendigos; en todo el País no hay otra reliquia de las Disciplinas Geográficas.

Suárez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes,
Libro Cuarto, Cap. XLV, Lérida, 1658.

BORGES, Jorge Luis. [1960] In Memoriam J.F.K in Obras Completas II: Museo, Editorial Planeta, 2007. p.271

Esta bala es antigua.
En 1897 la disparó contra el presidente del Uruguay un muchacho de Montevideo, Arredondo, que había pasado largo tiempo sin ver a nadie, para que lo supieran sin cómplice. Treinta años antes, el mismo proyectil mató a Lincoln, por obra criminal o mágica de un actor, a quien las palabras de Shakespeare habían convertido en Marco Bruto, asesino de César. Al promediar el siglo XVII la venganza la usó para dar muerte a Gustavo Adolfo de Suecia, en mitad de la pública hecatombe de una batalla.
Antes, la bala fue otras cosas, porque la transmigración pitagórica no sólo es propia de los hombres. Fue el cordón de seda que en el Oriente reciben los visires, fue la fusilería y las bayonetas que destrozaron a los defensores del Álamo, fue la cuchilla triangular que segó el cuello de una reina, fue los oscuros clavos que atravesaron la carne del Redentor y el leño de la Cruz, fue el veneno que el jefe cartaginés guardaba en una sortija de hierro, fue la serena copa que en un atardecer bebió Sócrates.
En el alba del tiempo fue la piedra que Caín lanzó contra Abel y será muchas cosas que hoy ni siquiera imaginamos y que podrán concluir con los hombres y con su prodigioso y frágil destino.

In Memoriam

Jorge Luis Borges

Esta bala es antigua.
En 1897 la disparó contra el presidente del Uruguay un muchacho de Montevideo, Arredondo, que había pasado largo tiempo sin ver a nadie, para que lo supieran sin cómplice. Treinta años antes, el mismo proyectil mató a Lincoln, por obra criminal o mágica de un actor, a quien las palabras de Shakespeare habían convertido en Marco Bruto, asesino de César. Al promediar el siglo XVII la venganza la usó para dar muerte a Gustavo Adolfo de Suecia, en mitad de la pública hecatombe de una batalla.
Antes, la bala fue otras cosas, porque la transmigración pitagórica no sólo es propia de los hombres. Fue el cordón de seda que en el Oriente reciben los visires, fue la fusilería y las bayonetas que destrozaron a los defensores del Álamo, fue la cuchilla triangular que segó el cuello de una reina, fue los oscuros clavos que atravesaron la carne del Redentor y el leño de la Cruz, fue el veneno que el jefe cartaginés guardaba en una sortija de hierro, fue la serena copa que en un atardecer bebió Sócrates.
En el alba del tiempo fue la piedra que Caín lanzó contra Abel y será muchas cosas que hoy ni siquiera imaginamos y que podrán concluir con los hombres y con su prodigioso y frágil destino.

BOSSE, Abraham; HOBBES, Thomas. Frontispiece of Leviathan engraved by Abraham Bosse, with input from Thomas Hobbes, the author, gravura/engraving, 1651
BOSSE, Abraham; HOBBES, Thomas. Frontispiece of Leviathan engraved by Abraham Bosse, with input from Thomas Hobbes, the author, gravura/engraving, 1651
BOSSE, Abraham; HOBBES, Thomas. Frontispiece of Leviathan engraved by Abraham Bosse, with input from Thomas Hobbes, the author, gravura/engraving, 1651
BOSSE, Abraham; HOBBES, Thomas. Frontispiece of Leviathan engraved by Abraham Bosse, with input from Thomas Hobbes, the author, gravura/engraving, 1651
BOURDIEU, Pierre. 1979, Algeria 1960, The disenchantment of the world, The sense of honour, The Kabyle house or the world reversed, ed. Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and Cambridge University Press, pp.6-17

Of all the economic institutions and techniques introduced by colonization, the one most alien to the logic of the pre-capitalist economy is undoubtedly credit, which entails reference to an abstract future defined by a written contract that is guaranteed by a whole system of sanctions, and which, with the notion of interest, brings in the financial value of time.

Algeria 1960, The disenchantment of the world, The sense of honour, The Kabyle house or the world reversed

Pierre Bourdieu

Nothing, indeed, is more alien (or unimportant) to economic theory than the concrete economic subject: far from economics being a department of anthropology, anthropology is only an appendix to economics and homo economicus the result of an a priori style of deduction which tends to find confirmation in experience, at least statistically, because an economic system undergoing “rationalization” has the means to mould agents in accordance with its requirements. When one has implicitly or explicitly set oneself the problem of what economic man must be in order for the capitalist economy to be possible, one is inclined to consider the categories of the economic consciousness proper to the capitalist as universal categories, independent of economic and social conditions; and, by the same token, one runs the risk of ignoring the genesis, both collective and individual, of the structures of the economic consciousness.
Adaptation to an economic and social order, of whatever sort, presupposes an ensemble of knowledges transmitted by diffuse or formal education, practical skills and know-how bound up with an ethos and making it possible to act with a reasonable chance of success. Thus, adaptation to an economic organization which tends to ensure predictability and calculability demands a parti­cular disposition towards time and, more precisely, towards the future, since the “rationalization” of economic conduct implies that the whole of existence be organized in relation to an absent, imaginary vanishing point.
[…]
Of all the economic institutions and techniques introduced by colonization, the one most alien to the logic of the pre-capitalist economy is undoubtedly credit, which entails reference to an abstract future defined by a written contract that is guaranteed by a whole system of sanctions, and which, with the notion of interest, brings in the financial value of time.
Whereas credit takes care to guarantee its security by making sure of the debtor’s solvency, amicable agreements (the only ones recognized by the ethic of honour) are backed solely by good faith, the assurances for the future being provided not by wealth but by the owner of the wealth. The prospective borrower calls on a relative or friend and says, “I know you have such a sum and that you don’t need it. You can look upon it as still being in your house.” No precise date is fixed for repayment (“in the summer” or “after the harvest”). Since such arrangements are only made between acquaintances, whether kinsmen, friends, or affines, the future of the association is ensured, in the present itself, not only by each party’s experience of the other, whom he knows to be reliable, but also by the objective relationship between the partners, which will outlast their transaction, guaranteeing the future of the exchange more surely than any of the explicit, formal codifications with which credit must arm itself because it presupposes the complete impersonality of the relationship between contracting parties. Nothing is more antithetical to mutual aid, which always associates individuals united by ties of real or fictitious kinship, than the co-operation which mobilizes individuals selected with a view to the calculated aims of a specific undertaking. In mutual aid, the group exists before and after the shared performance of a shared task; in co-operation, the group’s raison d’être lies outside itself, in the future goal defined by the contract, and it ceases to exist as soon as the contract is fulfilled.
[…]
It is remarkable to see how the ethos is carried straight through into ethics. The precepts of the mode of honour which denounce the spirit of calculation and all its manifestations, such as avidity and haste, which condemn the tyranny of the watch, “the devil’s mill”, can be seen as so many partial and veiled formulations of the objective “intention” of the economy. Since exchanges are reduced to the minimum, they cannot become the focal point around which production and consumption might be organized; each production unit tends to live self-sufficiently, so that most exchanges take place between close acquaintances and it would be absurd to bring calculation into them; the producer, being at the same time the consumer, does not assess his production in terms of the effort or time spent on it. Wastage of time — which appears as such only by reference to alien principles, such as the principle of maximum profitability — and wastage of means are perhaps the condition of the survival of societies which, if they counted, would give up... But calculation is in the service of the sense of equity and is absolutely opposed to the spirit of calculation which, relying on the quantitative evaluation of profit, abolishes the hazardous and (at least apparently) disinterested approximations of a code of generosity and honour... The acquisition of wealth is never explicitly recognized as the goal of economic activity. Resistance to accumulation and to the accompanying differentiation is a way of safeguarding the economic bases of the social order, since, in a stationary economy in which the quantity of assets possessed (i.e. mainly land) is constant, one man’s enrichment is another man’s impoverishment. And, once again, the ethic simply records the necessities immanent in the economy. “A generous man”, the Kabyles say, “is God’s friend.”

BOURDIEU, Pierre. [1996] On Television, transl. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, The New Press, New York, 1998. p.15-21

EN

On Television

Pierre Bordieu

INVISIBLE CENSORSHIP
But let me return to the essential point. I began by claiming that open access to television is offset by a powerful censorship, a loss of independence linked to the conditions imposed on those who speak on television. Above all, time limits make it highly unlikely that anything can be said. I am undoubtedly expected to say that this television censorship – of guests but also of the journalists who are its agents — is political. It's true that politics intervenes, and that there is political control (particularly in the case of hiring for top positions in the radio stations and television channels under direct government control). It is also true that at a time such as today, when great numbers of people are looking for work and there is so little job security in television and radio, there is a greater tendency toward political conformity. Consciously or unconsciously, people censor themselves –they don't need to be called into line.
You can also consider economic censorship. It is true that, in the final analysis, you can say that the pressure on television is economic. That said, it is not enough to say that what gets on television is determined by the owners, by the companies that pay for the ads, or by the government that gives the subsidies.
If you knew only the name of the owner of a television station, its advertising budget, and how much it receives in subsidies, you wouldn't know much. Still, it's important to keep these things in mind. It's important to know that NBC is owned by General Electric (which means that interviews with people who live near a nuclear plant undoubtedly would be ... but then again, such a story wouldn't even occur to anyone), that CBS is owned by Westinghouse, and ABC by Disney, that TF1 belongs to Bouygues1, and that these facts lead to consequences through a whole series of mediations. It is obvious that the government won't do certain things to Bouygues, knowing that Bouygues is behind TF1. These factors, which, are so crude that they are obvious to even the most simpleminded critique, hide other things, all the anonymous and invisible mechanisms through which the many kinds of censorship operate to make television such a formidable instrument for maintaining the symbolic order. 
I'd like to pause here. Sociological analysis often comes up against a misconception. Anyone involved as the object of the analysis, in this case journalists, tends to think that the work of analysis, the revelation of mechanisms, is in fact a denunciation of individuals, part of an ad hominem polemic. (Those same journalists would, of course, immediately level accusations of bias and lack of objectivity at any sociologist who discussed or wrote about even a tenth of what comes up anytime you talk with the media about the payoffs, how the programs are manufactured, made up — that's the word they use.)
In general, people don't like to be turned into objects or objectified; and journalists least of all. They feel under fire, singled out. But the further you get in the analysis of a given milieu, the more likely you are to let individuals off the hook (which doesn't mean justifying everything that happens). And the more you understand how things work, the more you come to understand that the people involved are manipulated as much as they manipulate. They manipulate even more effectively the more they are themselves manipulated and the more unconscious they are of this.
I stress this point even though I know that, whatever I do, anything I say will be taken as a criticism — a reaction that is also a defense against analysis. But let me stress that I even think that scandals such as the furor over the deeds and misdeeds of one or another television news personality, or the exorbitant salaries of certain producers, divert attention from the main point. Individual corruption only masks the structural corruption (should we even talk about corruption in this case?) that operates on the game as a whole through mechanisms such as competition for market share. This is what I want to examine. 
So I would like to analyze a series of mechanisms that allow television to wield a particularly pernicious form of symbolic violence. Symbolic violence is violence wielded with tacit complicity  between its victims and its agents, insofar as both remain unconscious of submitting to or wielding it. The function ) of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden. In so doing, it can help minimize the symbolic violence within social relations and, in particular, within the relations of communication.
Let's start with an easy example — sensational news. This has always been the favorite food of the tabloids. Blood, sex, melodrama and crime have always been big sellers. In the early days of television, a sense of respectability modelled on the
printed press kept these attention-grabbers under wraps, but the race for audience share inevitably brings it to the headlines and to the beginning of the television news. Sensationalism attracts notice, and it also diverts it, like magicians whose basic operating principle is to direct attention to something other than what they're doing. Part of the symbolic functioning of television, in the case of the news, for example, is to call attention to those elements which will engage everybody — which offer something for everyone. These are things that won't shock anyone, where nothing is at stake, that don't divide, are generally agreed on, and interest everybody without touching on anything important. These items are basic ingredients of news because they interest everyone, and because they take up time — time that could be used to say something else.
And time, on television, is an extremely rare commodity. When you use up precious time to say banal things, to the extent that they cover up precious things, these banalities become in fact very important. If I stress this point, it's because everyone knows that a very high proportion of the population reads no newspaper at all and is dependent on television as their sole source of news. Television enjoys a de facto monopoly on what goes into the heads of a significant part of the population and what they think. So much emphasis on headlines and so much filling up of precious time with empty air — with nothing or almost nothing — shunts aside relevant news, that is, the information that all citizens ought to have in order to exercise their democratic rights. We are therefore faced with a division, as far as news is concerned, between individuals in a position to read so-called “serious” newspapers (insofar as they can remain serious in the face of competition from television), and people with access to international newspapers and foreign radio stations, and, on the other hand, everyone else, who get from television news all they know about politics. That is to say, precious little, except for what can be learned from seeing people, how they look, and how they talk — things even the most culturally disadvantaged can decipher, and which can do more than a little to distance many of them from a good many politicians.

SHOW AND HIDE
So far I've emphasized elements that are easy to see. I'd like now to move on to slightly less obvious matters in order to show how, paradoxically, television can hide by showing. That is, it can hide things by showing something other than what would be shown if television did what it's supposed to do, provide information. Or by showing what has to be shown, but in such a way that it isn't really shown, or is turned into something insignificant; or by constructing it in such a way that it takes on a meaning that has nothing at all to do with reality.

On this point I'll take two examples from Patrick Champagne's work. In his work in La Misère du monde, Champagne offers a detailed examination of how the media represent events in the “inner city.”2 He shows how journalists are carried along by the inherent exigencies of their job, by their view of the world, by their training and orientation, and also by the reasoning intrinsic to the profession itself. They select very specific aspects of the inner city as a function of their particular perceptual categories, the particular way they see things. These categories are the product of education, history, and so forth. The most common metaphor to explain this notion of category — that is, the invisible structures that organize perception and determine what we see and don't see — is eyeglasses. Journalists have special “glasses” through which they see certain things and not others, and through which they see the things' they see in the special way they see them. 
The principle that determines this selection is the search for the sensational and the spectacular. Television calls for dramatization in both senses of the term: it puts an event on stage, puts it in images. In doing so, it exaggerates the importance of that event, its seriousness, and its dramatic, even tragic character. For the inner city, this means riots. That's already a big word ... And, indeed, words get the same treatment. Ordinary words impress no one, but paradoxically, the world of images is dominated by words. Photos are nothing without words — the French term for the caption is legend, and often they should be read as just that, as legends that can show anything at all. We know that to name is to show, to create, to bring into existence. And words can do a lot of damage: Islam, Islamic, Islamicist — is the headscarf Islamic or Islamicist?3 And if it were really only a kerchief and nothing more? Sometimes I want to go back over every word the television news-people use, often without thinking and with no idea of the difficulty and the seriousness of the subjects they are talking about or the responsibilities they assume by talking about them in front of the thousands of people who watch the news without understanding what they see and without understanding that they don't understand. Because these words do things, they make things — they create phantasms, fears, and phobias, or simply false representations.
Journalists, on the whole, are interested in the exception, which means whateyer is exceptional for them. Something that might be perfectly ordinary for someone else can be extraordinary for them and vice versa. They're interested in the extraordinary, in anything that breaks the routine. The daily papers are under pressure to offer a daily dose of the extra-daily, and that's not easy ... This pressure explains the attention they give to extraordinary occurrences, usual unusual events like fires, floods, or murders. But the extra-ordinary is also, and especially, what isn't ordinary for other newspapers. It's what differs from the ordinary and what differs from what other newspapers say. The pressure is dreadful — the pressure to get a “scoop”4 People are ready to do almost anything to be the first to see and present something. The result is that everyone copies each other in the attempt to get ahead; everyone ends up doing the same thing. The search for exclusivity, which elsewhere leads to originality and singularity, here yields uniformity and banality.
This relentless, self-interested search for the extra-ordinary can have just as much political effect as direct political prescription or the self-censorship that comes from fear of being left behind or left out. With the exceptional force of the televised image at their disposal, journalists can produce effects that are literally incomparable. The monotonous, drab daily life in the inner city doesn't say anything to anybody and doesn't interest anybody, journalists least of all. But even if they were to take a real interest in what goes on in the inner city and really wanted to show it, it would be enormously difficult. There is nothing more difficult to convey than reality in all its ordinariness. Flaubert was fond of saying that it takes a lot of hard work to portray mediocrity. Sociologists run into this problem all the time: How can we make the ordinary extraordinary and evoke ordinariness in such a way that people will see just how extraordinary it is?
The political dangers inherent in the ordinary use of television have to do with the fact that images have the peculiar capacity to produce what literary critics call a reality effect. They show things and make people believe in what they show. This power to show is also a power to mobilize. It can give a life to ideas or images, but also to groups. The news, the incidents and accidents of everyday life, can be loaded with political or ethnic significance liable to unleash strong, often negative feelings, such as racism, chauvinism, the fear-hatred of the foreigner or, xenophobia. The simple report, the very fact of reporting, of putting on record as a reporter, always implies a social construction of reality that can mobilize (or demobilize) individuals or groups.

1 [Bouygues is the largest French company in commercial and public works construction. The subsidiaries of the holding company cover a wide range of goods and services, including telecommunications. It controls 42 percent of the TF1 television station. – T.R.]
2 ["The View from the Media," in Pierre Bourdieu, et al., La Misère. The French "suburbs" [banlieue] correspond to the American "inner city," which is the translation used here.
3 [Bourdieu here refers to the controversy in France which began in 1989 when Muslim girls, children of relatively recent immigrants from North Africa, were expelled from public school for wearing headscarves (Ie foulard in French, le hidjab in Arabic, sometimes tendentiously translated as "veil"). After much debate the then Minister of Education Lionel Jospin authorized wearing the scarf in class.—T.R.]
4 [English in the original, as are "fast-thinkers," "talk-show," "news" below.--T.R.]

BOURDIEU, Pierre. [1996]  Sur la télévision suivi de L’emprise du journalisme, Raisons d´Agir, pp.17-31

Cela dit, on ne peut se contenter de dire que ce qui se passe à la télévision est déterminé par les gens qui la possèdent, par les annonceurs qui payent la publicité, par l’État qui donne des subventions, et si on ne savait, sur une chaîne de télévision, que le nom du propriétaire, la part des différents annonceurs dans le budget et le montant des subventions, on ne comprendrait pas grand chose. Reste qu’il est important de le rappeler. Ce sont là des choses tellement grosses et grossières que la critique la plus élémentaire les perçoit, mais qui cachent les mécanismes anonymes, invisibles, à travers lesquels s’exercent les censures de tous ordres qui font de la télévision un formidable instrument de maintien de l’ordre symbolique.

Sur la télévision

Pierre Bourdieu

UNE CENSURE INVISIBLE
Mais je reviens à l’essentiel : j’ai avancé en commençant que l’accès à la télévision a pour contrepartie une formidable censure, une perte d’autonomie liée, entre autres choses, au fait que le sujet est imposé, que les conditions de la communication sont imposées et surtout, que la limitation du temps impose au discours des contraintes telles qu’il est peu probable que quelque chose puisse se dire. Cette censure qui s’exerce sur les invités, mais aussi sur les journalistes qui contribuent à la faire peser, on s’attend à ce que je dise qu’elle est politique. Il est vrai qu’il y a des interventions politiques, un contrôle politique (qui s’exerce notamment au travers des nominations aux postes dirigeants) ; il est vrai aussi et surtout que dans une période où, comme aujourd’hui, il y a une armée de réserve et une très grande précarité de l’emploi dans les professions de la télévision et de la radio, la propension au conformisme politique est plus grande. Les gens se conforment par une forme consciente ou inconsciente d’autocensure, sans qu’il soit besoin de faire des rappels à l’ordre.
On peut penser aussi aux censures économiques. Il est vrai que, en dernier ressort, on pourra dire que ce qui pèse sur la télévision, c’est la contrainte économique. Cela dit, on ne peut se contenter de dire que ce qui se passe à la télévision est déterminé par les gens qui la possèdent, par les annonceurs qui payent la publicité, par l’État qui donne des subventions, et si on ne savait, sur une chaîne de télévision, que le nom du propriétaire, la part des différents annonceurs dans le budget et le montant des subventions, on ne comprendrait pas grand chose. Reste qu’il est important de le rappeler. Ce sont là des choses tellement grosses et grossières que la critique la plus élémentaire les perçoit, mais qui cachent les mécanismes anonymes, invisibles, à travers lesquels s’exercent les censures de tous ordres qui font de la télévision un formidable instrument de maintien de l’ordre symbolique.
Je dois m’arrêter un instant à ce point. L’analyse sociologique se heurte souvent à un malentendu : ceux qui sont inscrits dans l’objet de l’analyse, dans le cas particulier les journalistes, ont tendance à penser que le travail d’énonciation, de dévoilement des mécanismes, est un travail de dénonciation, dirigé contre des personnes ou, comme on dit, des « attaques », des attaques personnelles, ad hominem. Les gens, de façon générale, n’aiment guère être pris pour objets, objectivés, et les journalistes moins que tous les autres. Ils se sentent visés, épinglés, alors que, plus on avance dans l’analyse d’un milieu, plus on est amené à dédouaner les individus de leur responsabilité, – ce qui ne veut pas dire qu’on justifie tout ce qui s’y passe –, et mieux on comprend comment il fonctionne, plus on comprend aussi que les gens qui en participent sont manipulés autant que manipulateurs. Ils manipulent même d’autant mieux, bien souvent, qu’il sont eux-mêmes plus manipulés et plus inconscients de l’être. J’insiste sur ce point, tout en sachant que, malgré tout, ce que je dis sera perçu comme une critique ; réaction qui est aussi une manière de se défendre contre l’analyse. Je crois même que la dénonciation des scandales, des faits et des méfaits de tel ou tel présentateur, ou des salaires exorbitants de certains producteurs, peut contribuer à détourner de l’essentiel, dans la mesure où la corruption des personnes masque cette sorte de corruption structurelle (mais faut-il encore parler de corruption ?) qui s’exerce sur l’ensemble du jeu à travers des mécanismes tels que la concurrence pour les parts de marché, que je veux essayer d’analyser.
Je voudrais donc démonter une série de mécanismes qui font que la télévision exerce une forme particulièrement pernicieuse de violence symbolique. La violence symbolique est une violence qui s’exerce avec la complicité tacite de ceux qui la subissent et aussi, souvent, de ceux qui l’exercent dans la mesure où les uns et les autres sont inconscients de l’exercer ou de la subir. 
Prenons le plus facile : les faits divers, qui ont toujours été la pâture préférée de la presse à sensations ; le sang et le sexe, le drame et le crime ont toujours fait vendre et le règne de l’audimat devait faire remonter à la une, à l’ouverture des journaux télévisés, ces ingrédients que le souci de respectabilité imposé par le modèle de la presse écrite sérieuse avait jusque là porté à écarter ou à reléguer. Mais les faits divers, ce sont aussi des faits qui font diversion. Les prestidigitateurs ont un principe élémentaire qui consiste à attirer l’attention sur autre chose que ce qu’ils font. Une part de l’action symbolique de la télévision, au niveau des informations par exemple, consiste à attirer l’attention sur des faits qui sont de nature à intéresser tout le monde, dont on peut dire qu’ils sont omnibus - c’est-à-dire pour tout le monde. Les faits omnibus sont des faits qui, comme on dit, ne doivent choquer personne, qui sont sans enjeu, qui ne divisent pas, qui font le consensus, qui intéressent tout le monde mais sur un mode tel qu’ils ne touchent à rien d’important. Le fait divers, c’est cette sorte de denrée élémentaire, rudimentaire, de l’information qui est très importante parce qu’elle intéresse tout le monde sans tirer à conséquence et quelle prend du temps, du temps qui pourrait être employé pour dire autre chose.
Or le temps est une denrée extrêmement rare à la télévision. Et si Ton emploie des minutes si précieuses pour dire des choses si futiles, c’est que ces choses si futiles sont en fait très importantes dans la mesure où elles cachent des choses précieuses. Si j’insiste sur ce point, c’est qu’on sait par ailleurs qu’il y a une proportion très importante de gens qui ne lisent aucun quotidien ; qui sont voués corps et âme à la télévision comme source unique d’informations. La télévision a une sorte de monopole de fait sur la formation des cerveaux d’une partie très importante de la population. Or, en mettant l’accent sur les faits divers, en remplissant ce temps rare avec du vide, du rien ou du presque rien, on écarte les informations pertinentes que devrait posséder le citoyen pour exercer ses droits démocratiques. Par ce biais, on s’oriente vers une division, en matière d’information, entre ceux qui peuvent lire les quotidiens dit sérieux, si tant est qu’ils resteront sérieux du fait de la concurrence de la télévision, ceux qui ont accès aux journaux internationaux, aux chaînes de radio en langue étrangère, et, de l’autre côté, ceux qui ont pour tout bagage politique l’information fournie par la télévision, c’est-à-dire à peu près rien (en dehors de l’information que procure la connaissance directe des hommes et des femmes en vue, de leur visage, de leurs expressions, autant de choses que les plus démunis culturellement savent déchiffrer, – ce qui ne contribue pas peu à les éloigner de nombre de responsables politiques).
CACHER EN MONTRANT
J’ai mis l’accent sur le plus visible. Je voudrais aller vers des choses légèrement moins visibles en mon trant comment la télévision peut, paradoxalement, cacher en montrant, en montrant autre chose que ce qu’il faudrait montrer si on faisait ce que l’on est censé faire, c’est-à-dire informer ; ou encore en montrant ce qu’il faut montrer, mais de telle manière qu’on ne le montre pas ou qu’on le rend insignifiant, ou en le construisant de telle manière qu’il prend un sens qui ne correspond pas du tout à la réalité.
Sur ce point, je prendrai deux exemples empruntés aux travaux de Patrick Champagne. Dans La Misère du monde, Patrick Champagne a consacré un chapitre à la représentation que les médias donnent des phénomènes dits de « banlieue » et il montre comment les journalistes, portés à la fois par les propensions inhérentes à leur métier, à leur vision du monde, à leur formation, à leurs dispositions, mais aussi par la logique de la profession, sélectionnent dans cette réalité particulière qu’est la vie des banlieues, un aspect tout à fait particulier, en fonction de catégories de perception qui leur sont propres. La métaphore la plus communément employée par les professeurs pour expliquer cette notion de catégorie, c’est-à-dire ces structures invisibles qui organisent le perçu, déterminant ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas, est celle des lunettes. Ces catégories sont le produit de notre éducation, de l’histoire, etc. Les journalistes ont des « lunettes » particulières à partir desquelles ils voient certaines choses et pas d’autres ; et voient d’une certaine manière les choses qu’ils voient. Ils opèrent une sélection et une construction de ce qui est sélectionné.
Le principe de sélection, c’est la recherche du sensationnel, du spectaculaire. La télévision appelle à la dramatisation, au double sens : elle met en scène, en images, un événement et elle en exagère l’importance, la gravité, et le caractère dramatique, tragique. Pour les banlieues, ce qui intéressera ce sont les émeutes. C’est déjà un grand mot… (On fait le même travail sur les mots. Avec des mots ordinaires, on n’« épate pas le bourgeois », ni le « peuple ». Il faut des mots extraordinaires. En fait, paradoxalement, le monde de l’image est dominé par les mots. La photo n’est rien sans la légende qui dit ce qu’il faut lire – legendum –, c’est-à-dire, bien souvent, des légendes, qui font voir n’importe quoi. Nommer, on le sait, c’est faire voir, c’est créer, porter à l’existence. Et les mots peuvent faire des ravages: islam, islamique, islamiste – le foulard est-il islamique ou islamiste ? Et s’il s’agissait simplement d’un fichu, sans plus? 
Il m’arrive d’avoir envie de reprendre chaque mot des présentateurs qui parlent souvent à la légère, sans avoir la moindre idée de la difficulté et de la gravité de ce qu’ils évoquent et des responsabilités qu’ils encourent en les évoquant, devant des milliers de téléspectateurs, sans les comprendre et sans comprendre qu’ils ne les comprennent pas. Parce que ces mots font des choses, créent des fantasmes, des peurs, des phobies ou, simplement, des représentations fausses). Les journalistes, grosso modo, s’intéressent à l’exceptionnel, à ce qui est exceptionnel pour eux. Ce qui peut être banal pour d’autres pourra être extraordinaire pour eux ou l’inverse. Ils s’intéressent à l’extraordinaire, à ce qui rompt avec l’ordinaire, à ce qui n’est pas quotidien – les quotidiens doivent offrir quotidiennement de l’extra-quotidien, ce n’est pas facile… D’où la place qu’ils accordent à l’extraordinaire ordinaire, c’est-à-dire prévu par les attentes ordinaires, incendies, inondations, assassinats, faits divers. Mais l’extraordinaire, c’est aussi et surtout ce qui n’est pas ordinaire par rapport aux autres journaux. C’est ce qui est différent de l’ordinaire et ce qui est différent de ce que les autres journaux disent de l’ordinaire, ou disent ordinairement. C’est une contrainte terrible: celle qu’impose la poursuite du scoop. Pour être le premier à voir et à faire voir quelque chose, on est prêt à peu près à n’importe quoi, et comme on se copie mutuellement en vue de devancer les autres, de faire avant les autres, ou de faire autrement que les autres, on finit par faire tous la même chose, la recherche de l’exclusivité, qui, ailleurs, dans d’autres champs, produit l’originalité, la singularité, aboutit ici à l’uniformisation et à la banalisation.
Cette recherche intéressée, acharnée, de l’extraordinaire peut avoir, autant que les consignes directement politiques ou les autocensures inspirées par la crainte de l’exclusion, des effets politiques. Disposant de cette force exceptionnelle qu’est celle de l’image “télévisée, les journalistes peuvent produire des effets sans équivalents. La vision quotidienne d’une banlieue, dans sa monotonie et sa grisaille, ne dit rien à personne, n’intéresse personne, et les journalistes moins que personne. Mais s’intéresseraient-ils à ce qui se passe vraiment dans les banlieues et voudraient-ils vraiment le montrer, que ce serait extrêmement difficile, en tout cas. Il n’y a rien de plus difficile que de faire ressentir la réalité dans sa banalité.
Les dangers politiques qui sont inhérents à l’usage ordinaire de la télévision tiennent au fait que l’image a cette particularité qu’elle peut produire ce que les critiques littéraires appellent l’effet de réel elle peut faire voir et faire croire à ce qu’elle fait voir. Cette puissance d’évocation a des effets de mobilisation. Elle peut faire exister des idées ou des représentations, mais aussi des groupes. Les faits divers, les incidents ou les accidents quotidiens, peuvent être chargés d’implications politiques, éthiques, etc. propres à déclencher des sentiments forts, souvent négatifs, comme le racisme, la xénophobie, la peur-haine de l’étranger et le simple compte rendu, le fait de rapporter, to record en reporter, implique toujours une construction sociale de la réalité capable d’exercer des effets sociaux de mobilisation (ou de démobilisation).

BRASCHI, Giannina. [2011] White Parachutes, in United States of Banana, Amazon Crossing, 2011. pp. 33–34

The suicide bomber blows the anonymity of the crowd into individual pieces and pieces of individuals. Nobodies suddenly become somebodies with names, nationalities, stories, and faces. The individual rage of the crowd awakens when its collectivity is threatened. It’s the fear that it could happen to you—or to me—or to any of us—anytime—anywhere the crowd gathers. The crowd becomes an instant celebrity after being a nobody.

White Parachutes

Giannina Braschi

The suicide bomber is an explosion of a contradiction in its paradox, victim and victimizer, yin and yang, two sides of the coin, fire bomb and fire extinguisher, prosecutor and defendant, hangman and hanged. Heautontimoroumenos. A full cycle in himself. An orange, an apple, a world—round. Not part, but whole. To be one and the other, annihilating both. To be and not to be. Sed and Suida without the synthesis. No middle ground. No Wishy-Washy. One is Washy—the other Wishy—each affirming its being—neither integrating into the other. The water never quenching the thirst of the fire—the fire always wanting to be higher—never coming to terms with its own thirsty fire of desire—that means the time to hesitate is through—no time to wallow in the mire—try now we can only lose—and our love will be a funeral pyre—of the suicidal instinct—to repress one’s emotions, to kill one’s desires—to not be—and the desire to be more—not to hesitate, to go forward, to express oneself, to fan the flames of life—not to let go of one contradiction without exhausting the other contradiction. The bomber quenching his own thirst—the thirst for fire, for explosion, noise, attention—craves the media, the spectacle, the crowds. [...] Blame must always find a body. Somebody, anybody. So everybody starts looking around in suspicion of each other. Fuenteovejuna did it. The crime against society becomes the crime of society. So involved is the public that it no longer finds guilt in the other, but in itself. This guilt is the power of the suicider.

Don’t blame me, I don’t exist anymore. You exist. You are the guilty ones. You should be blamed for their deaths. Not me. What did you do to me to make me capable of erasing all those innocent people—and myself—from the map of the earth?

The suicide bomber blows the anonymity of the crowd into individual pieces and pieces of individuals. Nobodies suddenly become somebodies with names, nationalities, stories, and faces. The individual rage of the crowd awakens when its collectivity is threatened. It’s the fear that it could happen to you—or to me—or to any of us—anytime—anywhere the crowd gathers. The crowd becomes an instant celebrity after being a nobody. The government worries that the roll call of the death toll will storm the polls and overturn elections and cars, businesses and samenesses. When the government proclaims war against terrorism—it proclaims war against the awakening of the masses. What the suicide bomber kills is the passivity of the masses. Walter Benjamin noted the decline of the halo in Baudelaire—the decline of the sacred. But the halo of the poet is rising again. The halo of the poet rises when the crowd unites in one voice that becomes the voice of the individual claiming his voice through the crowd. The crowd says—in my opinion—and its opinion is always what it just heard—it is hearsay said here—by someone who steps out of line—to say—in my opinion—and a circle forms around him—a circle of the same opinion. And nobody else enters that circle, but the groupies. you don’t belong—the groupies say. […]

BREMER, Claus. [1963] lesbares in unlesbares übersetzen, in Anthology of Concrete Poetry, (1st ed. 1967), ed. WILLIAMS, Emmett, Primary Information 2013. p.64 
BREMER, Claus. [1963] lesbares in unlesbares übersetzen, in Anthology of Concrete Poetry, (1st ed. 1967), ed. WILLIAMS, Emmett, Primary Information 2013. p.64 
BREMER, Claus. [1963] lesbares in unlesbares übersetzen, in Anthology of Concrete Poetry, (1st ed. 1967), ed. WILLIAMS, Emmett, Primary Information 2013. p.64 
BREMER, Claus. [1963] lesbares in unlesbares übersetzen, in Anthology of Concrete Poetry, (1st ed. 1967), ed. WILLIAMS, Emmett, Primary Information 2013. p.64 
BRESSON, Robert. [1983] L’Argent (trailer), 00:30 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2005
BRESSON, Robert. [1983] L’Argent (trailer), 00:30 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2005
BRESSON, Robert. [1983] L’Argent (trailer), 00:30 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2005
BRESSON, Robert. Le Diable Probablement, 00:16 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1977
BRESSON, Robert. Le Diable Probablement, 00:16 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1977
BRESSON, Robert. Le Diable Probablement, 00:16 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1977
BRIDLE, James. New Dark Age, Verso, 2018. pp. 168-178  

Financial information now travels at the speed of light; but the speed of light is different in different places. It’s different in glass and air, and it encounters limitations, as fibre-optic cables are bundled together, pass through complex exchanges, and route around natural obstacles and under oceans. The greatest prizes go to those with the lowest latency: the shortest travel time between two points. This is where private fibre-optic lines and microwave towers come into the picture.

New Dark Age

James Bridle

Complexity
Through the winter of 2014–15, I made several journeys across South East England in search of the invisible. I was looking for the traces of hidden systems in the landscape, the places where the great networks of digital technologies become steel and wire: where they become infrastructure. It was a form of psychogeography – a much-overused term these days, but one still useful for its emphasis on the hidden internal states that can be uncovered by external exploration.
The situationist philosopher Guy Debord defined psychogeography in 1955 as ‘the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals’. Debord was concerned with the increased spectacularisation of everyday life, and the ways in which our lives are increasingly shaped by “in which our lives are increasingly shaped by commodification and mediation. The things we encounter in everyday life in spectacular societies are almost always a proxy for some deeper reality of which we are unaware, and our alienation from that deeper reality reduces our agency and quality of life. Psychogeography’s critical engagement with the urban landscape was one way of countering this alienation – a performance of observation and intervention bringing us into direct contact with reality, in surprising and urgent ways. And its utility is not tempered when, instead of seeking signs of the spectacle in urban life, we opt to look for signs of the virtual in the global landscape – and try to figure out what it’s doing to all of us.
Thus, a kind of dérive for the network: a process of psychogeography intended to discover not some reflection of my own pathology, but that of a globalised, digital collective. As part of a project called ‘The Nor’, I undertook several journeys to map these digital networks, starting with the system of surveillance devices that surround the centre of London: sensors and cameras monitoring the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zones – which track every vehicle entering the city – as well as those scattered more widely by Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police, and the flocks of private cameras installed by businesses and other authorities. In two day-long walks I photographed more than a thousand cameras, enduring a citizen’s arrest and a police caution for my troubles. We will return to this theme of surveillance, and the strange atmosphere it generates, later in this book. I also explored the electromagnetic networks that make up London’s airspace, cataloguing the VHF omnidirectional radio range (VOR) installations – scattered across airports and abandoned World War II airfields, and hidden in woods and behind chainlink fences – that guide aircraft from point to point on their circumnavigations of the globe.
The last of these journeys was a bicycle ride of some sixty miles, from Slough to Basildon, cutting through the heart of the City. Slough, twenty-five miles to the west of London, is home to an increasing number of data centres – the often-hidden cathedrals of data-driven life – and in particular to Equinix LD4, a vast and anonymous warehouse, located in a whole neighbourhood of newly built computational infrastructure. LD4 is the virtual location of the London Stock Exchange, and despite the lack of any visible signage, this is where most of the orders that are recorded by the exchange are actually processed. At the other end of the journey was another “unmarked data centre facility: seven acres of server space distinguishable only by a fluttering Union Jack, and by the fact that if you linger too long on the road in front of it, you will be harassed by security guards. This is the Euronext Data Center, the European outpost of the New York Stock Exchange, whose operations are likewise obscure and virtual.
Connecting these two locations is an almost invisible line of microwave transmissions: narrow beams of information that bounce from dish to dish and tower to tower, carrying financial information of almost unimaginable value at close to the speed of light. By mapping these towers, and the data centres and other facilities they support, we can gain some insight not only into the technological reality of our age, but into the social reality it generates in turn.
Both of these locations are where they are because of the virtualisation of money markets. When most people picture a stock exchange, they imagine a vast hall or pit filled with screaming traders, clutching fistfuls of paper, making deals and making money. But over the last few decades, most of the trading floors around the world have fallen silent. First they were replaced with more mundane offices: men (almost always men) clutching phones and staring at lines on computer screens. Only when something went badly wrong – bad enough to be assigned a colour, like Black Monday or Silver Thursday – did the screaming appear again. Most recently, even the men have been replaced with banks of computers that trade automatically, following fixed – but highly complex – strategies developed by banks and hedge funds. As computing power has increased and networks have gotten faster and faster, the speed of the exchanges has accelerated, giving this technique its sobriquet: high-frequency trading.
High-frequency trading on stock markets evolved in response to two closely related pressures, which were actually the result of a single technological shift. These pressures were latency, and visibility. As stock exchanges deregulated and digitised through the 1980s and ’90s – what was called, on the London Stock Exchange, the ‘big bang’ – it became possible to trade on them ever faster, and at ever-greater distances. This produced a series of weird effects. While profits have long been made by being the first to leverage the difference between prices on different markets – Paul Reuter famously arranged for ships arriving from America to toss canisters containing news overboard off the Irish coast so their contents could be telegraphed to London ahead of the ship’s arrival – digital communications hyperaccelerate the process.
Financial information now travels at the speed of light; but the speed of light is different in different places. It’s different in glass and air, and it encounters limitations, as fibre-optic cables are bundled together, pass through complex exchanges, and route around natural obstacles and under oceans. The greatest prizes go to those with the lowest latency: the shortest travel time between two points. This is where private fibre-optic lines and microwave towers come into the picture. In 2009–10, one company spent $300 million to build a private fibre link between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Carteret, New Jersey, home of the NASDAQ exchange. They closed roads, they dug trenches, they bored through mountains, and they did it all in secret, so that no competitors discovered their plan. By shortening the physical distance between the sites, Spread Networks reduced the time it took a message to get between the two data centres from seventeen milliseconds to thirteen – resulting in a saving of about $75 million per millisecond.
In 2012, another firm, McKay Brothers, opened a second dedicated New York–Chicago connection. This time it used microwaves, which travel through the air faster than light through glass fibre. One of their partners stated that ‘a single millisecond advantage could equate to an additional $100 million a year to a large high-frequency trading firm.’ McKay’s link gained them four – a vast advantage over any of their competitors, many of whom were also taking advantage of another effect of the fallout from the big bang: visibility.
Digitisation meant that trades within, as well as between, stock exchanges could happen faster and faster. As the actual trading passed into the hands of machines, it became possible to react almost instantaneously to any price change or new offer. But being able to react meant both understanding what was happening, and being able to buy a place at the table. Thus, as in everything else, digitisation made the markets both more opaque to noninitiates, and radically visible to those in the know. In this case, the latter were those with the funding and the expertise to keep up with light-speed information flows: the private banks and hedge funds employing high-frequency traders. Algorithms designed by former physics PhDs to take advantage of millisecond advantages in access entered the market, and the traders gave them names like Ninja, Sniper, and The Knife. These algorithms were capable of eking out fractions of a cent on every trade, and they could do it millions of times a day. Seen within the turmoil of the markets, it was rarely clear who actually operated these algorithms; and it is no more so today, because their primary tactic is stealth: masking their intentions and their origins while capturing a vast portion of all traded value. The result was an arms race: whoever could build the fastest software, reduce the latency of their connection to the exchanges, and best hide their true objective, made bank.
Operating on stock exchanges became a matter of dark dealing, and of dark fibre. The darkness goes deeper too: many traders today opt to deal not in the relatively well-regulated public exchanges, but in what are called ‘dark pools’. Dark pools are private forums for trading securities, derivatives, and other financial instruments. A 2015 report by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) estimated that dark pool trading accounted for one-fifth of all trades in stocks that also traded on the public exchanges – a figure that doesn’t account for many other popular forms of financial instrument. The dark pools allow traders to move large volumes of stock without tipping off the wider market, thus protecting their trades from other predators. But they’re also shady places, where conflicts of interest run rampant. Initially advertised as places to trade securely, many dark pool operators have been censured for quietly inviting in the same high-frequency traders their clients were trying to avoid – either to provide liquidity to the market, or for their own profit. The 2015 SEC report lists numerous such deals, in what it calls ‘a dismal litany of misconduct’. In 2016, Barclays and Credit Suisse were fined $154 million for secretly allowing high-frequency traders as well as their own staff access to their supposedly private dark pool. Because the pool is dark, it’s impossible to know how much their clients lost to these unseen predators, but many of their largest customers were pension funds, charged with managing the retirement plans of ordinary people. What is lost in the dark pools, unknown to their members, is lifetime savings, future security, and livelihoods. 
The combination of high-frequency trading and dark pools is just one way in which financial systems have been rendered obscure, and thus ever more unequal. But as their effects ripple through invisible digital networks, they also produce markers in the physical world: places where we can see these inequalities manifest as architecture, and in the landscape around us.

BROSSA, Joan. Elegia al Che, poesia visual/visual poetry, 1967
BROSSA, Joan. Elegia al Che, poesia visual/visual poetry, 1967
BROSSA, Joan. Elegia al Che, poesia visual/visual poetry, 1967
BROSSA, Joan. Elegia al Che, poesia visual/visual poetry, 1967
BURCKHARDT, Martin, HÖFER, Dirk. [2015] All and nothing : a pandemonium of digital world destruction, transl. Erik Butler, MIT Press, 2017. pp. 52-54

The code decomposes the world into discrete building blocks, places them in sequence along an arrow of time, and makes them readable, interpretable, and, ultimately, programmable. Like a spider’s prey injected with gastric juices, the world dissolves. From this point on, it can be shaped and molded.

Digital Plagues

The Logic of Decomposition

If codes—say, the alphabet—were created to break the world down into distinct units and rework them into legible reality, then this process amounts to a kind of digestion. The code decomposes the world into discrete building blocks, places them in sequence along an arrow of time, and makes them readable, interpretable, and, ultimately, programmable. Like a spider’s prey injected with gastric juices, the world dissolves. From this point on, it can be shaped and molded. In other words, the alphabetic code breaks down the world by breaking it into distinct elements (peptides) and reworking them into reality, usable matter. Inasmuch as this demiurgic principle dissolves “the riddle of Creation, the principles of use and exploitation—that is, extracting, potentiating, and transforming isolated elements—come to be posited absolutely and taken to be second nature. Enigmatic Creation is replaced by simple, docile matter. It is no accident that money came into being at the same time as the alphabet. Money is another peptide, which helps break down the world into discrete parts that then can be enriched, accumulated, and put back together in practically unlimited ways.

Today, the digital code is eating up the linear, alphabetic code. If the alphabet once served to change the body of the world (soma) into a sign (sema), the digital code is now going still further and dissolving the world of signs (sema) into digits (bits). Thomas Hobbes wrote, “In the philosophy of nature, I cannot begin better … than from privation; that is, from feigning the world to be annihilated”; in this light, the liquidation of signs, their digitization, signifies a second-order annihilation of the world. This recoding proves all the more radical—this holds for DNA, too—in being able to erect a system of signs where a body formerly stood. It is not by chance that, wherever the world is transfigured into digital copy, ideas of a second genesis—optimized Creation—emerge. In the digitized realm, as in synthetic biology, the body is not broken down and recombined in its material form; instead (as in the case of designer babies), it is drafted as a kind of wish formation. But when the very construction of the body becomes a matter of design, the body (as a destiny) falls mute and can be experienced only to the extent that it constitutes a social body. Digitization disintegrates the body as a physical phenomenon and transfers it (big data) into a world of signs; there, it loses all definition. The body turns into pure information, a site of transition, where intentions, actions, and ideas manifest themselves only in passing. Even when one particular body proves lucky enough to have been preferred to a host of rejected possibilities, it remains—as per genetic law—just one particular body among all other bodies (xn → x); alternatively, it amounts to a particular body standing in for the population as a whole (x ← xn).

BURNAT, Emad, DAVIDI, Guy. Five Broken Cameras, 01:19 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2011
BURNAT, Emad, DAVIDI, Guy. Five Broken Cameras, 01:19 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2011
BURNAT, Emad, DAVIDI, Guy. Five Broken Cameras, 01:19 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2011
BURROUGHS William S. [1981] Cidades da Noite Vermelha, trad. Mª Dulce Teles de Menezes, Salvato Teles de Menezes, Difel, 2003. pp.9-12

Mission explorou a costa de Madagáscar e descobriu uma baía dez léguas a norte de Diego Suarez. Resolveram então estabelecer ali os aquartelamentos da República — erguer uma cidade, construir docas e ter um lugar a que pudessem chamar seu. Chamaram à colónia Libertatia

Cidades da Noite Vermelha

William S Burroughs

Avante! 

Os princípios liberais encarnados nas revoluções francesa e americana e mais tarde nas revoluções liberais de 1848 tinham já sido codificados e postos em prática por comunas piratas cem anos antes. Eis uma citação de Sob a Bandeira Negra, de Don C. Seitz: 

O capitão Mission foi um dos antepassados da Revolução Francesa. Estava cem anos avançado em relação ao seu tempo, pois a sua carreira fundamentou-se num desejo inicial de melhorar os problemas da humanidade, o que acabou, como é bastante habitual, numa melhoria mais liberal da sua própria fortuna. Conta-se como o capitão Mission, tendo conduzido o seu navio à vitória contra um navio de Guerra inglês, convocou a tripulação para uma assembleia. Aqueles que o quisessem seguir seriam bem-vindos e tratados como irmãos; os que o não quisessem seriam postos em terra em segurança. Todos, sem excepção, abraçaram a Nova Liberdade. Alguns estavam dispostos a içar de imediato a Bandeira Negra, mas Mission objectou dizendo que não eram piratas mas amantes da liberdade, lutando por direitos iguais contra todas as nações sujeitas à tirania de um governo, e sugeriu uma bandeira branca como símbolo mais apropriado. O dinheiro do navio foi guardado num cofre para ser usado como propriedade comum. As roupas foram depois distribuídas a todos os que delas precisavam e a república do mar entrou assim em plena actividade. 

Mission propôs-lhes viverem em completa harmonia, pois uma sociedade mal orientada julgá-los-ia ainda como piratas. Por isso a autopreservação, e não uma disposição cruel , obrigava-os a declarar guerra a todas as nações que lhes fechassem os portos. «Declaro tal guerra e ao mesmo tempo recomendo-vos um comportamento humano e generoso para com os vossos prisioneiros, o que parecerá muito mais o resultado de uma alma nobre, pois estamos convencidos que não receberíamos o mesmo tratamento se a nossa má sorte ou a nossa falta de coragem nos colocasse à mercê deles... » O Nieustadt de Amesterdão ao ser apresado deu duas mil libras, ouro em pó e dezassete escravos. Juntaram os escravos à tripulação e vestiram-nos com as roupas que sobraram do barco holandês; Mission fez um discurso denunciando a escravatura e defendendo que os homens que vendem outros como animais mostravam que a sua religião era demasiado sinistra, pois nenhum homem deve coarctar a liberdade a qualquer outro... 

Mission explorou a costa de Madagáscar e descobriu uma baía dez léguas a norte de Diego Suarez. Resolveram então estabelecer ali os aquartelamentos da República — erguer uma cidade, construir docas e ter um lugar a que pudessem chamar seu. Chamaram à colónia Libertatia e sujeitaram-na aos Artigos redigidos pelo capitão Mission. Estes determinam entre outras coisas: todas as decisões respeitantes à colónia serão submetidas ao voto dos colonos; a abolição da escra- vatura, seja por que motivo for, incluindo a dívida; a abolição da pena de morte; a liberdade de seguir quaisquer crenças ou práticas religiosas sem sanções ou perseguições. 

A colónia do capitão Mission, cerca de trezentas pessoas, foi aniquilada por um ataque de surpresa dos nativos, e o capitão morto pouco depois numa batalha naval. Houve outras colónias do género nas Índias Ocidentais e na América Central e do Sul, mas não se conseguiram manter por não serem suficientemente populosas para resistirem a ataques. Se o tivessem conseguido, a história do mundo podia ter sido alterada. Imaginem um número de posições fortificadas deste género por toda a América do Sul e Índias Ocidentais, espalhando-se desde Africa a Madagáscar e à Malásia e Índias Orientais, oferecendo todas elas refúgio a fugitivos da escravatura e da opressão: «Juntem-se a nós e vivam segundo os nossos regulamentos.» 

Temos, imediatamente, aliados em todos os escravizados e oprimidos do mundo inteiro, das plantações de algodão da América do Sul às plantações de açúcar das Índias Ocidentais, toda a população índia do continente americano assalariada e degradada pelos Espanhóis numa pobreza e ignorância sub-humanas, exterminada pelos Americanos, contaminada pelos seus vícios e doenças, os nativos da África e da Ásia — todos aliados potenciais. Posições fortificadas apoiadas e apoiando grupos de guerrilhas; guarnecidas de soldados, armas, remédios e informações dadas pelas populações locais... uma tal combinação seria imbatível. Se todo o Exército americano não conseguiu derrotar o Vietcong, numa altura em que as posições fortificadas eram obsoletas face à artilharia e ataques aéreos, certamente os exércitos europeus, operando num território desconhecido e susceptíveis a todas os doenças mortais dos países tropicais, não poderiam ter derrotado tácticas de guerrilha adicionadas a posições fortificadas. Considerem as dificuldades que um tal exército invasor enfrentaria: hostilizações contínuas por parte das guerrilhas, uma população totalmente hostil sempre a postos com veneno, informações erradas, cobras e aranhas na cama do general, tatus transportando a doença que come a terra criando raízes debaixo dos aquartelamentos e adoptados como mascotes pelo regimento enquanto a disenteria e a malária proliferam. Os cercos só poderiam ser desastres militares. Não há nada que detenha os seguidores dos Artigos. O homem branco é retroactivamente libertado do seu fardo. Os brancos serão bem-vindos como trabalhadores, colonos, e técnicos, mas não como colonialistas ou senhores. Nenhum homem pode violar os Artigos. 

Imaginem um movimento destes à escala mundial. Confrontados pela prática real da liberdade, as revoluções francesa e americana forçadas a respeitar as suas palavras. Os resultados da industrialização incontrolada seriam também mutilados, uma vez que os operários e os habitantes dos bairros de lata das cidades procurariam refúgio nas áreas seguidoras dos Artigos. Qualquer homem teria o direito de se instalar na área que escolhesse. A terra pertenceria àqueles que a trabalhassem. Nada de patrão branco, nada de Pukka Sahib, nada de patróns, nada de colonialistas. A escalada da produção em massa e da concentração da população em zonas urbanas seria eliminada, pois quem iria trabalhar nas fábricas deles e comprar-lhes os produtos quando podiam viver dos campos e do mar e dos lagos e dos rios em regiões de inacreditável abundância? E ao viver da terra seria motivado a preservar-lhe os recursos. Cito este exemplo de utopia retroactiva por ela ter podido realmente acontecer em termos de recursos técnicos e humanos disponíveis na altura. Se o capitão Mission tivesse vivido o suficiente para dar um exemplo para outros seguirem, a humanidade podia ter saído do impasse mortal de problemas insolúveis em que nos encontramos.

CAROLSFELD, Julius Schnorr von. The Hebrews blowing trumpets at the battle of Jericho (1400AC), gravura/engraving, 1860
CAROLSFELD, Julius Schnorr von. The Hebrews blowing trumpets at the battle of Jericho (1400AC), gravura/engraving, 1860
CAROLSFELD, Julius Schnorr von. The Hebrews blowing trumpets at the battle of Jericho (1400AC), gravura/engraving, 1860
CAROLSFELD, Julius Schnorr von. The Hebrews blowing trumpets at the battle of Jericho (1400AC), gravura/engraving, 1860
CASTELO BRANCO, Camilo. [1883] Prefácio Biográfico, in Os Ratos da Inquisição, anotado por Manuel João Gomes, Frenesi, 2004. pp. 20-36  

No que toca a bestialidade, 
Poderemos dar fiança 
Por nós e pela vizinhança.

Prefácio Biográfico

Camilo Castelo Branco

Os gracejos com que o académico alegrava as suas poesias deviam às vezes toar asperamente nos ouvidos piedosos. A chalaça puxava por ele até à imprudência, em anos tão avançados que nem para o génio, se o houvesse nisso, teria desculpa. Temos mais de um exemplo nos seus poemas em que parece meter a riso deslinguadamente os assuntos melindrosos da religião. 

[...]

Com a Ordem Terceira de São Francisco das Chagas, de que o judeu era indigníssimo irmão, não andava muito acreditado. Estas duas quadras destoavam da seriedade de uma Ordem tão respeitável, que se preza de contar como irmãos os monarcas e príncipes portugueses quase todos: 

Uma musa fressureira 
Invoco para estes versos 
Porque só onde há fressuras 
Os corações acharemos. 

Já passou acaso o entrudo? 
Estamos já no «Memento»? 
Que pratos de corações 
Nos oferecem os Terceiros? 

[...]

Quando suspeitava que o Santo Ofício o trazia de olho e os Familiares o encaravam de esconso, punha-se a escrever e a divulgar romances, uma espécie de actos de contrição que distribuía e dos quais possuo cinco. Mas nem o pavor da Inquisição o corrigia do motejo mal disfarçado na compostura hipócrita. 

Parece que ele exagerava a imbecilidade intelectual dos cristãos-velhos, arranjando uns conceitos anfibológicos, mas muito transparentes para quem estava afeito na sala do tribunal a argumentar com hebreus espertos e rebeldes. Nos cinco Romances, que Serrão chama «de penitência», não perde lanço de lembrar que Jesus Nazareno nascera judeu, e como tal cumprira, ao oitavo dia, o preceito legal da circuncisão — relíquia judaica do canibalismo de Jeová-Moloch:

Por mim chorastes nascendo, 
E, de oito dias nascido, 
Por mim sangue derramastes 
Sofrendo cruel martírio. 

Para o reduzir, quanto possível, às condições triviais de homem, diz que Jesus fora havido como filho de José; e, nessa hipótese favorável ao seu requerimento de pecador, empenha cm seu patrocínio a família toda de Cristo — a mãe, o pai José, o primo Baptista, e de mais a mais São Francisco para padrinho, pois que o jubileu da Porciúncula a que o poeta contrito devotamente concorre é em casa do último santo [...] 

Insiste em descrever as angústias humanas, as dilacerações da carne de Jesus, os suores do horto, 

A prisão, cordas, cadeias, 
Os açoutes à coluna, 
A bofetada tremenda. 

É bem notório quanto os israelitas achavam ignóbil que o divino Messias, o Omnipotente, se expusesse aos lentos martírios humanos infligidos aos malfeitores. Naquela tremenda, adjectivando a bofetada, ressumbra o sorriso socrático. 

Lembra-se da cana, dos espinhos, do jogo da túnica aos dados, da cruz escandalosa, do fel e vinagre com que, na frase de Amador Arrais, enxaroparam o Messias — dos cravos e da lançada —, tudo que é injurioso ao homem, e inconciliável com a divindade. Mas, na ressurreição, não toca. E depois, num tom salgado de ironia, diz-lhe que, ao cabo de tantos trabalhos para o salvar, é justo que não se inutilizem tantos favores.

Pois, Senhor, não permitais 
Se percam tantas finezas 
Quanto sei que por salvar-me 
Por mim todas foram feitas.

[...]

*

Com os romances de penitência, com os jubileus na Porciúncula de São Francisco, e zombando no seu foro íntimo tanto de Moisés como de Galileu, chegou incólume António Serrão de Crasto aos sessenta e dois anos; mas, no dia 8 de Maio de 1672, ao cair da noite, foi preso pelos esbirros do Santo Ofício e conduzido ao cárcere do Rossio. Nesse mesmo dia, eram presos e encarcerados na Inquisição de Coimbra os seus dois filhos estudantes de medicina; e, passado algum tempo, remetidos para Lisboa. 

Ainda, no ano anterior ao da sua prisão, para captar a benevolência dos dominicanos, imprimiu Relação das Grandiosas Festas com que os Religiosos da Sagrada Ordem dos Pregadores do Real Convento de São Domingos desta Corte Celebraram as Canonizações dos Gloriosos Santos São Luís Beltrão e Santa Rosa Maria, e Beatificação de Santa Margarida de Saboia, no ano de 1671. 

E, já depois que foi preso, em 1672, no Forasteiro Admirado apareceu um romance burlesco de Serrão de Crasto em aplauso da canonização de Santa Maria Madalena de Pazzi. Realmente, um romance burlesco na canonização de uma beata era uma antecipação à Pucelle de Voltaire, em demasia temporã! 

A prisão desta família, motivou-a uma exorbitante imprudência de um dos filhos do poeta. Pedro Serrão forjava sátiras, já contra os lentes, já contra os métodos docentes da universidade. Esses libelos mordazes, de ordinário, não passavam do grémio dos seus condiscípulos ao conhecimento dos ofendidos; e, quando transpirassem, como a religião não era ferida nesses apodos à ignorância dos catedráticos de medicina, Pedro Serrão ia satirizando impunemente e jactanciosamente com aplauso do seu auditório dos gerais. Aconteceu, porém, naquele ano de 1672, o académico alargar a zona das suas vítimas, fantasiando torneios que celebravam uma festividade universitária no recebimento de um reitor também imaginado. Desgraçada lembrança! Como vai ver-se, Pedro Serrão envolveu na sua chacota a fradaria toda de Coimbra e todos os colégios monacais, sem exceptuar, ao menos, os dominicanos. 

Começava por embravecer contra si os maridos e as esposas da cidade de Coimbra, pondo na vanguarda dos cavaleiros-arautos que saíram do pátio da universidade, a lançar o pregão do torneio, uma donzela com uma bandeira reposta sobre um cavalo ricamente ajaezado e na bandeira as armas da cidade. Ora, o académico deturpava notavelmente o brasão. Sobre pano azul figurou uma gentilíssima dama, e do outro lado um veado de ouro com a seguinte legenda por cima das pontas: 

Até ao céu chegariam, 
Se cada ano houvesse 
O que em este acontece. 

Ainda havia outra inscrição mais emocional: 

Quem nesta terra casar 
Desta fruta d'Alenquer 
Tomará quanta quiser. 

No dia seguinte alegorizava ele que saíram a dar vista os colégios que haviam de esgrimir. Das alusões a cada um dos colégios fradescos deliram-se as cores jocosas com a notícia das particularidades que as explicavam. Não sabemos que razão se dava para que os colegiais de São Tomás trouxessem por elmo um capelo arrábido com a divisa: Aqui abrem selos —, e como é que o satirista com tal chufa mostrasse a transcendência do seu espírito. Entende-se, todavia, que Serrão lhes mofava da linhagem heráldica, escrevendo-lhes no escudo das armas: 

Merecemos pelas letras 
Ir de trás das procissões, 
Pois todos temos brasões. 

O colégio de Santo Agostinho movia-se vestido de chamalote preto, com meias mangas para melhor aparecerem os manguitos, e com mitra na cabeça de uma mula derrabada. O sal desta alusão também se não pode saborear; mas aí já a religião episcopal é ofendida, porque em uma bandeira figura Santo Agostinho, de pontifical, entre um crúzio e um graciano. 

Toda esta Ordem é fidalga, 

dizia a letra, 

Uns, com dom, o querem ser, 
Outros, sem dom, o parecer. 

O colégio de São Boaventura, pelos modos vezeiro em amores profanos, trazia como timbre um coração inflamado, com o emblema: 

No divino, e no humano, 
Este trago abrasado, 
Porque d'ambos sou tocado. 

O colégio de São Bernardo cavalgava um quartão de ventas esfarrapadas, com uma coleira de cascavéis, e uma letra que dizia: Alcobaça. No escudo, uma pereira em campo de erva, com a divisa: 

Se me faltarem as peras, 
Isso pouco importará; 
Erva não me faltará. 

Esta chalaça ainda se percebe pela velha injustiça com que os bernardos, aliás doutíssimos, eram motejados pelas outras ordens, que nunca tiveram Britos, nem Brandões, nem Fortunatos de São Boaventura. 

O colégio dos Carmelitas vestido de escarlate com roçagante cauda, e esta legenda: 

No que toca a bestialidade, 
Poderemos dar fiança 
Por nós e pela vizinhança. 

Os loios com uns epigramas às suas boticadas, já agora ininteligíveis. Seguiam-se os trinitários, os jerónimos, com instrumentos de padaria, os crúzios — e os jesuítas, rodeados de grande caterva de mancebos com esta letra: Enganados. O escudo da Companhia de Jesus era uma rede varredoura com a divisa: 

Na índia e no Japão 
Ou aonde quer que for 
Apanharei o melhor. 

O de São Bento cavalgava um grande macho da ordem, com a letra: 

Assim andava Abacuc no seu tempo. 

O poeta malsina-lhes a limpeza do sangue com esta inscrição no escudo: 

Em mim tenho misturados 
Mouros brancos conhecidos 
Entre maus cristãos fingidos. 

Pedro Serrão devia conhecer os tornadiços da sua raça que vestiam hábitos das ordens, com preferência ao sambenito. 
Entraram todos os colégios a justar no Pátio da Universidade. O primeiro que saiu a recolher o campo foi o de São Boaventura, e ninguém lhe foi ao encontro, porque jogava de pés e mãos; a final entrou o do Carmo, e deram-se tão fortes encontrões que se puseram logo em quatro pés, e a poder de coices venceu o do Carmo, deixando o outro tão mal tratado de uma anca, que não se podia bulir. Os dominicanos saíram aos carmelitas, e no primeiro encontro romperam a gualdrapa e ficaram em osso

Não protrairei o processo dos coices que os colégios mutuamente se espinoteiam. Basta dizer que as setas do Serrão são todas ervadas da pior peçonha para ele, visto que era de esperar que se lhe cravassem de ricochete no peito. 

Espalharam-se cópias da sátira. A indignação devia ser universal, nos conventos e nas casas particulares. A espionagem não se cansaria muito em descobrir o insultador perversíssimo que mitrava cabeças de burro e punha frutas de Alenquer nas cabeças dos maridos da cidade. Pedro Serrão foi preso, e mais o irmão cujo nome ignoro, por quadrilheiros da Inquisição. Devia ser geral o contentamento dos colégios infamados pela sátira e das famílias honestas mais ou menos identificadas aos créditos daqueles frades e colegiais. 

*

Clemente X, em 1673, movido, ao que se diz, pelas Notícias Recônditas da Inquisição, incorrectamente atribuídas ao padre António Vieira, mandou fechar os tribunais do Santo Ofício, isto é, mandou suspender os processos instaurados, mas não abrir as portas aos encarcerados. 

O processo dos Serrões foi suspenso, portanto, e continuado em 21 de Setembro de 1681 quando Inocêncio XI, por bula de 22 de Agosto daquele ano, restituiu ao Santo Ofício todos os seus poderes, nove anos interrompidos. O filho, cujo nome ignoro, de António Serrão, morreu na tortura ou pereceu pelo suicídio no cárcere; Pedro Serrão, o da sátira, e seu pai estiveram à espera da sua sentença dez anos menos dois dias, a contar de 8 de Maio de 1672 até 10 de Maio de 1682 [sic], dia em que saíram no auto-de-fé. 

*

Na carta de António Serrão a Francisco Menzas colhem-se alguns traços de sua Vida nesses dez anos: 

... ... ... ...
Se um dia só de tormento 
Parece anos mui largos, 
Quantos me pareceriam, 
Menos dois dias, dez anos? 

Que tantos, Senhor, estive 
Antes de morto enterrado; 
Se bem morto para o gosto, 
Vivo para estar penando. 

[...]

Falando dos filhos e da penúria, compara-se a Job, que tudo perdeu — os filhos e os bens: 

E, se Job ficou sem filhos, 
Eu em os meus não vos falo 
Que casos tão lastimosos 
Não são para relatados. 

Quanto à pobreza a que o abateu o Santo Ofício: 

Se Job perdeu os seus bens, 
Eu destes meus limitados 
Em um instante fiquei 
Destruído e assolado.

Por uma fresta da sua prisão via ele a ramagem de uma ameixieira no quintalejo do Tribunal. Nos seus últimos dias de cárcere, no fim de Abril, ainda a viu florir. Fez-lhe então um soneto que interpõe na carta ao amigo: 

Onze vezes de folhas revestida, 
Onze vezes de flores adornada, 
Onze vezes de frutos carregada 
Te vi, ameixieira, aqui nascida. 

Outras tantas também te vi despida, 
De folhas, flores, frutos despojada, 
Pelo rigor do Inverno saqueada, 
E a seco tronco toda reduzida. 

Também a mim me vi já revestido 
De folhas, flores, frutos adornado, 
De amigos e parentes assistido. 

De todos eis-me aqui tão desprezado; 
Mas tu voltas a ter o que hás perdido 
E eu não terei já mais o antigo estado.

Também vira por espaço de oito anos verdejar o folhedo de um loureiro que certo dia caiu a golpes de machado quando a sua copa frondejava mais. Tudo lhe era incentivo para entreter com versos a sua solidão [...]

Rija constituição era a deste homem que aos setenta e três anos fazia estes dessorados versos, e quase cego ia deixá-los às portas dos antigos amigos misericordiosos que lhe davam por eles o pão de cada dia! Mas o que mais espanta é que este pai ancião pudesse sobreviver à catástrofe do filho, garrotado e queimado na Ribeira, ali defronte dos seus olhos, bem visível, no crepúsculo da noite, entre as línguas da fogueira que o pulverizaram! Que estúpida e selvagem reacção a das forças vitais a tantos elementos destruidores! Custa muito morrer. 

*

Desde 21 de Setembro de 1681 até 10 de Maio do ano seguinte, os inquisidores, que precisavam despejar a casa, aviaram expeditamente cento e seis processos! No auto-de-fé de 10 de Maio saíram penitenciados sessenta e dois homens e quarenta mulheres. Os relaxados em carne, condenados à morte e ao fogo, eram quatro: um Gaspar Pereira, outro de apelido desconhecido, o bacharel Miguel Henriques da Fonseca, advogado nos auditórios da corte, e Pedro Serrão, mais de meio cristão-novo, diz a sentença, estudante, solteiro, filho de António Serrão de Crasto, boticário.1

Reza a sentença que o réu guardava os sábados, jejuava no dia grande e no da rainha Ester, comendo somente à noite de peixe, e abstendo-se de carnes de porco, de coelho e de peixe de pele. É o que as falsas testemunhas haviam deposto contra Pedro Serrão; mas o preso não confessou estas nem outras culpas. O promotor fiscal do Santo Ofício deu contra o réu libelo criminal. O réu contestou por negação, contrariando com a defesa de que era cristão, talvez porque comia carne de porco, e tudo. O Santo Ofício desmentia-o com o depoimento das desconhecidas testemunhas, e ele obstinava-se na negativa. Os tratos não lhe arrancaram a confissão das culpas, sendo por muitas vezes admoestado com muita caridade. Estas admoestações caritativas chamavam-se a polé e o potro. Assentou a Mesa do Santo Ofício que o réu inconfesso era herege e apóstata, convicto, negativo e pertinaz. Intimou-o de novo a que confessasse e pedisse perdão, visto que o seu crime era de morte. Não confessou. Dez anos de cárcere era temporada bastante de trevas para que o decrépito rapaz houvesse esquecido a luz do Sol, o azul do céu e as sensações da vida. Aterrava-o talvez menos a morte do que a miséria e o opróbrio com que a Inquisição lhe concederia a arrastada existência no desterro, nas galés, ou nas penitenciárias dos mosteiros. Foi sentenciado em 1 de Maio, nove dias antes do suplício. A sentença da Relação, desprezadas as cínicas instâncias do Santo Ofício para que se houvesse benigna e piedosamente, foi assim lavrada: Vista a sentença junta dos Inquisidores, Ordinários e Deputados da Santa Inquisição, e como por ela se mostra o R. preso Pedro Serrão ser herege e apóstata da nossa Santa Fé Católica, convencido no crime de judaísmo, e por tal relaxado à justiça secular: Vista a disposição de direito e Ordenação em tal caso, o condenam a que com baraço e pregão pelas ruas públicas e costumadas desta cidade seja levado à Ribeira dela, aonde afogado (garrotado) morra morte natural, e ao depois de morto será queimado e feito por fogo em pó, de maneira que nunca do seu corpo e sepultura possa haver memória, e o condenam outrossim em perdimento dos seus bens para o Fisco e Câmara Real, posto que ascendentes ou descendentes tenha, os quais declaram por incapazes, inábeis e infames na forma de direito e Ordenação. E pague as custas destes autos. 

*

Na fileira dos quatro relaxados em carne ia o jurisconsulto Miguel Henriques, condenado a ser queimado vivo. Era um teologista argumentador que fizera suar o cercílio aos dominicanos na Mesa do Santo Ofício; mas tinha intermitentes fragilidades. Quando as cordas da tortura lhe estorciam as articulações, confessava que era judeu, e pedia perdão dos seus pecados; mas assim que lhe relaxassem as roscas do calabre e o deixassem curar as macerações e ajustar os ossos desconjuntados às suas facetas e cavidades, desconfessava as culpas, e escrevia nos autos as razões evidentes do seu mosaísmo. Não queria advogado nem procurador. Chamado à Mesa, fazia um estendal de textos bíblicos, dava-se umas refulgências de Moisés no Horeb, e parecia querer converter à sua crença os frades com uma polémica de tão perigoso controversista que os inquisidores, para o amordaçarem, mandavam-lhe atar as mãos à polé, levantá-lo à altura do moitão e deixá-lo baquear de repente, ficando suspenso com todo o peso do seu corpo. Nesta postura, por entre gritos, confessava os pesares das suas culpas e pedia perdão pelas chagas do Redentor, o qual, como se via, tinha remido a feroz procacidade do género humano, repondo-o naquela perfeição edénica representada pelos ministros do culto. Sacrílego vitupério dos remidos ao Redentor — uma infame tragédia que afrontaria o factor daqueles blasfemos personagens, se o estúpido Acaso pudesse ser responsável pelas nossas covardes idolatrias! 

Assim que o apeavam do moitão, voltava para o seu antro, e escrevia nos autos um novo desmentido às confissões. Assinava-se judaicamente Misael, e não queria que lhe chamassem Miguel — o nome do baptismo violentado; e declarava arrogantemente, com um científico desdém, que, se queriam fazê-lo cristão, o convencessem — que lhe propusessem razões mais concludentes. Quando lhe mandavam assinar algum papel em que se lia Santa Inquisição, respondia que não assinava sem riscarem o adjectivo santa; nem jurava pelos Santos Evangelhos, visto que não lhes dava, em harmonia com a sua fé e com as suas luzes, importância alguma, aos tais evangelhos apócrifos, contraditórios e de nenhum valor histórico nem religioso. Em ignorância orçava por Strauss, Renan e Ewerbeck. Como a ciência moderna é antiga! O bacharel podia ter uma agonia mais suave, se não discutisse. 

Pedro Serrão fora mais discreto na sua estóica impassibilidade. Morrer por morrer, antes estrangulado pela corretã do carrasco do que pela fumarada dos toros embreados. E, de mais a mais, se a forte brisa soprava do Tejo, ali defronte do Paço da Ribeira, e as lavaredas, em vez de convergirem para o padecente, divergiam as suas serpes, a agonia tinha umas delongas que tornam inclassificável o grau de tormento a que pode chegar a carne humana. [...] Foi assim que se desfez devagar e horrendamente o bacharel Miguel Henriques da Fonseca, levantado em um poste alto e queimado vivo, dizia a sentença.

Entretanto, António Serrão de Crasto ia mendigando e vivendo contra vontade de outros poetas, seus confrades talvez nas Academias. Um desses teve notícia de que o boticário, no cárcere, estava escrevendo os Ratos da Inquisição. É natural que circulassem cá fora algumas cópias das décimas jocosas com que o preso muito de indústria granjeava captar o sorriso misericordioso dos inquisidores. Como quer que fosse, houve poeta que viu nos Ratos uma rebuçada alegoria aos Inquisidores, e como tal a denunciou à justa vingança dos ofendidos, nas seguintes endechas: 

Judeu de mau proceder, 
Que, se em teus versos discorro, 
Logo pareces cachorro 
No ladrar e no morder. 

Ainda espero ver-te arder, 
Pois com tanta sem-razão 
Murmuras da Inquisição; 
Porém, é força, em teu erro, 
Se te tratam como perro 
Que te vingues como cão. 

Dos ratos, desta maneira, 
Te queixas e de seus tratos; 
É mau queixar-te dos ratos, 
Estando na ratoeira. 
Tua alusão sorrateira 
Mostrar engenho procura, 
E a retórica se apura 
Nesta alusão que formaste 
Pois desta figura usaste 
Antes de fazer figura. 

Néscio, depois de judeu, 
Quando o sambenito mamas, 
Triste português te chamas, 

Sendo o mais astuto hebreu! 
Quem te vira posto em breu 
Ou partido de uma bala! 
Ninguém contigo se iguala, 
Pois fazes, quando precito, 
Sendo infame o sambenito, 
Desse sambenito gala. 

Se viveste descortês 
Com repetida torpeza, 
Mais à lei da natureza 
Do que na lei de Moisés, 
Queixa-te só desta vez 
De ti, mas não de outro trato; 
Que eu sei que nunca do rato 
Te queixarás, asneirão, 
Se assim como foste cão 
Poderás tornar-te gato. 

*

A dramatização do poema cifra-se no ataque dos ratos da Inquisição às vitualhas que o preso tem numa canastra. Estreme fantasia — está claro; porque os presos não tinham alimentos seus, havidos de fora, nos seus covis. Daí vem que o outro poeta, desejoso de ver o colega posto em breu, malsinou perfidamente de alegóricas as décimas dos Ratos. Os encarcerados no Santo Ofício recebiam uma vez por dia um parco alimento cozinhado no caldeirão da casa. A parcimónia era tal que apenas seria verosímil que os ratos devorassem os presos. 

1 A sentença foi integralmente publicada com algumas notas sobre jurisprudência inquisitorial da lavra do erudito senhor dr. Aires de Campos, no Instituto de Coimbra, tomo IX, págs. 298 e segs.

C.C.C.C. Chaos is the Cosmos, in Chaos is the Cosmos, 43:20 mins., Cold Spring, 2007
C.C.C.C. Chaos is the Cosmos, in Chaos is the Cosmos, 43:20 mins., Cold Spring, 2007
CÉLINE, Louis-Ferdinand. [1932] Journey to the End of the Night, transl. Ralph Mannheim, New Directions Books, 1983. pp.30-31

EN

Journey to the End of the Night

Louis-Ferdinand Céline

What solicitude! I ask you, comrade, is it my family that's going to serve as a strainer and sorting house for mixed French and German bullets? ... It'll just be me, won't it? And when I'm dead, is the honor of my family going to bring me back to life? ... I can see how it will be with my family when these warlike scenes have passed ... as everything passes ... I can see my family on fine Sundays . . . joyfully gamboling on the lawns of a new summer . . . while three feet under papa, that's me, dripping with worms and infinitely more disgusting than ten pounds of turds on the Fourteenth of July, will be rotting stupendously with all my deluded flesh . . . Fertilize the fields of the anonymous plowman—that is the true future of the true soldier! Ah, comrade! This world, I assure you, is only a vast device for kidding the world! You are young! Let these minutes of wisdom be as years to you! Listen well, comrade, and don't fail to recognize and understand the tell-tale sign, which glares from all the murderous hypocrisies of our Society: 'Compassion with the fate, the condition of the poor ...' I tell you, little man, life's fall guys, beaten, fleeced to the bone, sweated from time immemorial, I warn you, that when the princes of this world start loving you, it means they're going to grind you up into battle sausage… That's the sign… It's infallible. It starts with affection. Louis XIV, at least, and don't forget it, didn't give a hoot in hell about his beloved people. Louis XV ditto. He smeared his asshole with them. True, we didn't live well in those days, the poor have never lived well, but the kings didn't flay them with the obstinacy, the persistence you meet with in today's tyrants. There's no rest, I tell you, for the little man, except in the contempt of the great, whose only motive for thinking of the common people is self-interest, when it isn't sadism... It's the philosophers... another point to look out for while we're at it... who first started giving the people ideas... when all they'd known up until then was the catechism! They began, so they proclaimed, to educate the people… Ah! What truths they had to reveal! Beautiful! Brilliant! Unprecedented truths! And the people were dazzled! That's it!, they said. That's the stuff! Let's go and die for it! The people are always dying to die! That's the way they are! 'Long live Diderot!' they yelled. And 'Long live Voltaire!' They, at least, were first-class philosophers. Those guys at least don't let the beloved people molder in ignorance and fetishism! They show the people the roads of Freedom! Emancipation! Things went fast after that! First teach everybody to read the papers! That's the way to salvation! Hurry hurry! No more illiterates! We don't need them anymore! Nothing but citizen-soldiers! Who vote! Who read! And who fight! And who march! And send kisses from the front! In no time the people were good and ripe! The enthusiasm of the liberated has to be good for something, doesn't it? Danton wasn't eloquent for the hell of it. With a few phrases, so rousing that we can still hear them today, he had the people mobilized before you could say fiddlesticks! That was when the first battalions of emancipated maniacs marched off! ... the first voting, flagmatic suckers that Dumouriez led away to get themselves drilled full of holes in Flanders! As for Dumouriez himself, who had come too late to these new-fangled idealistic pastimes, he discovered that he was more interested in money and deserted. He was our last mercenary. The free-gratis soldier... was something really new... So new that when Goethe arrived in Valmy, Goethe or not, he was flabbergasted. At the sight of those ragged, impassioned cohorts, who had come of their own free will to get themselves disembowelled by the King of Prussia in defense of a patriotic fiction no one had ever heard of, Goethe realized that he still had much to learn. The system proved successful ... pretty soon they were mass-producing heroes, and in the end, the system was so well perfected that they cost practically nothing. Everyone was delighted. Bismarck, the two Napoleons, Barrés, Elsa the Horsewoman. The religion of the flag promptly replaced the cult of heaven, an old cloud which had already been deflated by the Reformation and reduced to a network of episcopal money boxes. In olden times the fanatical fashion was: 'Long live Jesus! Burn the heretics!'... But heretics, after all, were few and voluntary... Whereas today vast hordes of men are fired with aim and purpose by cries of: 'Hang the limp turnips! The juiceless lemons! The innocent readers! By the millions, eyes right!' If anybody doesn't want to fight or murder, grab 'em, tear 'em to pieces! Kill them in thirteen juicy ways. For a starter, to teach them how to live, rip their guts out of their bodies, their eyes out of their sockets, and the years out of their filthy slobbering lives! Let whole legions of them perish, turn into smidgens, bleed, smolder in acid—and all that to make the Patrie more beloved, more fair, and more joyful! And if in their midst there are any foul creatures who refuse to understand these sublime truths, they can just go and bury themselves right with the others, no, not quite, their place will be at the far end of the cemetery, under the shameful epitaphs of cowards without an ideal, for those contemptible slugs will have forfeited the glorious right to a small patch of the shadow of the municipal monument erected by the lowest bidder in the central avenue to commemorate the reputable dead, and also the right to hear so much as a distant echo of the Minister's speech next Sunday, when he comes around to urinate at the Prefecture and sound off over the graves after lunch...

CÉLINE, Louis-Ferdinand. [1932] Viagem ao Fim da Noite, trad. Aníbal Fernandes, Ulisseia, 2002. pp.69-71

Perante aqueles magotes esfarrapados e apaixonados que se davam espontaneamente a estripar pelo rei da Prússia para defesa da inédita ficção patriótica, Goethe sentiu que ainda tinha muitas coisas a aprender. «A partir de hoje», proclamou tão magnificamente como seria de esperar do seu génio, «começa uma nova época!» Tal e qual! Em seguida, como o sistema era excelente puseram-se a fabricar heróis em série e cada vez menos caros devido ao aperfeiçoamento do sistema. Toda a gente se deu bem. Bismarck, os dois Napoleões, e tanto Barrès como a Cavaleira Elsa. A religião bandeirista substituiu prontamente a celeste, velha nuvem já emurchecida pela Reforma e desde há muito condensada em pés-de-meia episcopais.

Viagem ao fim da Noite

Louis-Ferdinand Céline

Que indulgência! Agora pergunto-lhe eu, camarada: então a minha família é que vai servir de coador e peneira às balas francesas e alemãs misturadas?... Isso devia ser só comigo, não é verdade? E, quando eu estiver morto, a honra da minha família é que vai fazer-me ressuscitar?... Olhe, já estou a topar a minha família, as coisas da guerra passadas... Como tudo passa... Feliz e aos pulos nas ervas do Verão que já voltou, estou a topá-la nos domingos de sol... Enquanto três pés mais abaixo eu, o papá, a fervilhar de vermes e bem mais infecto do que um quilo de cagalhões no 14 de Julho, apodreço fantasticamente toda a minha carne decepcionada... Estrumar os sulcos do camponês anónimo é o verdadeiro futuro do verdadeiro soldado! Ah! Camarada! Este mundo, garanto-lhe eu, não é mais do que uma imensa empresa que se marimba para o mundo! Você é jovem. Que estes minutos lúcidos lhe valham como anos! Escute-me com atenção, camarada, e não deixe passar nada sem avaliar bem a sua importância, esse factor capital que faz resplandecer todas as hipocrisias mortíferas da nossa Sociedade: «O compadecimento pela sorte, pela condição dos pobres-diabos...» Digo-vos, simplórios, vencidos da vida, escorraçados, espoliados, transpirados de sempre, previno-vos: quando os grandes deste mundo resolvem amar-vos é porque vão transformar-vos em carne para canhão... É o sinal... É infalível. É por amizade que a coisa começa. Luís XIV, esse, que nos lembremos marimbava-se por completo para o bom povo. Quanto a Luís XV, é a mesma coisa. Estava-se a cagar. Não se vivia bem nesse tempo, é certo, os pobres nunca viveram bem mas ao estripá-los não havia a teimosia e a obstinação que encontramos nos tiranos dos nossos dias. Para os pequenos, digo-lhe eu, só há descanso com o desprezo dos grandes que apenas podem pensar no povo por interesse ou sadismo... Foram os filósofos, repare ainda a propósito, que começaram por contar histórias ao bom povo... A ele, que só conhecia o catecismo! Empenharam-se, proclamaram eles, em educá-lo... Ah! Que verdades tinham a revelar-lhes! E das boas! E das fresquinhas! Que brilhavam! De se ficar embasbacado! É isto!, começou a dizer o bom povo, é isto mesmo! É precisamente isto! Vamos morrer todos por isto! Nunca quer mais do que morrer, o povo! Tal e qual. «Viva Diderot!» berraram eles, e depois: «Bravo, Voltaire!» Ao menos eram filósofos! E viva também Carnot, que organiza tão bem as vitórias! E viva toda a gente! Ao menos eram gajos que não deixavam o povo morrer na ignorância e no feiticismo! Mostraram-lhe, eles, os caminhos da Liberdade! Emanciparam-no! Mas não durou! Primeiro saibam todos ler os jornais! É a salvação! Caramba! E isso rápido! Basta de analfabetos! Não pode havê-los! Apenas soldados-cidadãos! Que votem! Que leiam! E que se batam! E que marchem! E mandem beijos! Sob este regime, o bom povo acabou por chegar ao ponto certo. O entusiasmo de ter sido libertado não havia de servir para alguma coisa? Danton não era eloquente por tão pouco. Com alguns berros tão sentidos que ainda hoje se ouvem, do pé para a mão mobilizou o bom povo! Foi o ponto de partida dos primeiros batalhões de emancipados frenéticos! Dos primeiros pobres-diabos votantes e bandeirófilos que levariam Dumouriez a fazer-se esburacar na Flandres! Para o Dumouriez que, chegando demasiado tarde a este pequeno jogo idealista inteiramente inédito, e acima de tudo interessado em carcanhóis, desertou. Foi o nosso último mercenário... O soldado gratuito era novidade... Uma novidade tal que Goethe, tão Goethe como era, ao chegar a Valmy ficou pasmado. Perante aqueles magotes esfarrapados e apaixonados que se davam espontaneamente a estripar pelo rei da Prússia para defesa da inédita ficção patriótica, Goethe sentiu que ainda tinha muitas coisas a aprender. «A partir de hoje», proclamou tão magnificamente como seria de esperar do seu génio, «começa uma nova época!» Tal e qual! Em seguida, como o sistema era excelente puseram-se a fabricar heróis em série e cada vez menos caros devido ao aperfeiçoamento do sistema. Toda a gente se deu bem. Bismarck, os dois Napoleões, e tanto Barrès como a Cavaleira Elsa. A religião bandeirista substituiu prontamente a celeste, velha nuvem já emurchecida pela Reforma e desde há muito condensada em pés-de-meia episcopais. Antigamente, a moda fanática era «Viva Jesus! Fogueira com os heréticos!» Raros e voluntários, porém, os heréticos... Ao passo que, de futuro, aqui onde nos vêem é com hordas imensas que os gritos: «Morte aos que não matam uma mosca! Aos pãezinhos sem sal! Aos inocentes leitores! Milhões de homens de face voltada ao perigo!», despertam vocações. Os homens que não quiserem assassinar nem deitar as mãos a ninguém, os malcheirosos pacifistas, agarrem-nos e chacinem-nos! Que os trucidem de mil maneiras e feitios bem desarrincados! Para aprenderem, comecem por arrancar-lhes as tripas do corpo e os olhos das órbitas, e acabem-lhes com os anos de vida porca e abjecta que eles têm! Que os façam finar-se legião por legião, saltar na corda bamba, sangrar, fumegar em ácidos, e tudo para a Pátria vir a ser mais amada, mais alegre e amena! E se lá houver imundos que recusem compreender estas coisas sublimes, só há que fazê-los enterrar imediatamente junto dos outros, não digo isto à letra, claro, mas no fim do cemitério com o desonroso epitáfio de cobardes sem ideal uma vez que perderam, estes ignóbeis, não só o magnífico direito a um cantinho de sombra no monumento adjudicatário e comunal erigido aos mortos como deve ser, na álea central, mas também o direito de captar um pouco do eco do ministro que, nesse mesmo domingo, vai urinar à casa do prefeito e depois do almoço fazer uma berratina sobre as campas.

CHARLIE HEBDO, 1000 Lashes if you don't die of laughter!, capa de jornal satírico/satirical newspaper cover, ed. #1011, após a publicação, os escritórios do jornal foram atacados com bombas incendiárias e o website foi alvo de hackers/after that issue was published, the magazine's office was firebombed and its website was hacked, 2 Novembro/November 2011
CHARLIE HEBDO, 1000 Lashes if you don't die of laughter!, capa de jornal satírico/satirical newspaper cover, ed. #1011, após a publicação, os escritórios do jornal foram atacados com bombas incendiárias e o website foi alvo de hackers/after that issue was published, the magazine's office was firebombed and its website was hacked, 2 Novembro/November 2011
CHARLIE HEBDO, 1000 Lashes if you don't die of laughter!, capa de jornal satírico/satirical newspaper cover, ed. #1011, após a publicação, os escritórios do jornal foram atacados com bombas incendiárias e o website foi alvo de hackers/after that issue was published, the magazine's office was firebombed and its website was hacked, 2 Novembro/November 2011
CHARLIE HEBDO, 1000 Lashes if you don't die of laughter!, capa de jornal satírico/satirical newspaper cover, ed. #1011, após a publicação, os escritórios do jornal foram atacados com bombas incendiárias e o website foi alvo de hackers/after that issue was published, the magazine's office was firebombed and its website was hacked, 2 Novembro/November 2011
CHOPIN, Henry. [1972] La Digestion, in Les Mirifiques Tundras & Compagnie, 14:06 mins., Alga Marghen, 1997
CHOPIN, Henry. [1972] La Digestion, in Les Mirifiques Tundras & Compagnie, 14:06 mins., Alga Marghen, 1997
CHOR, Laurel. Burning Joss paper [also known as ghost or spirit money] automobile offering, fotografia/photo, 2015
CHOR, Laurel. Burning Joss paper [also known as ghost or spirit money] automobile offering, fotografia/photo, 2015
CHOR, Laurel. Burning Joss paper [also known as ghost or spirit money] automobile offering, fotografia/photo, 2015
CHOR, Laurel. Burning Joss paper [also known as ghost or spirit money] automobile offering, fotografia/photo, 2015
CIORAN, Emil. [1949] A Short History of Decay, trad./transl. Richard Howard, Seaver Books, 1975. pp. 3-7

his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike
[...]
Only the skeptics (or idlers or aesthetes) escape, because they propose nothing

Directions for Decomposition

Emil Cioran

I'll join with black despair against my soul, 
And to myself become an enemy.

— Richard III 

Genealogy of Fanaticism 

In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy ... whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games. 

Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional. History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable. Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it; depleting himself to create fake gods, he then feverishly adopts them: his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike. His power to adore is responsible for all his crimes: a man who loves a god unduly forces other men to love his god, eager to exterminate them if they refuse. There is no form of intolerance, of proselytism or ideological intransigence which fails to reveal the bestial substratum of enthusiasm. Once man loses his faculty of indifference he becomes a potential murderer; once he transforms his idea into a god the consequences are incalculable. We kill only in the name of a god or of his counterfeits: the excesses provoked by the goddess Reason, by the concept of nation, class, or race are akin to those of the Inquisition or of the Reformation. The ages of fervor abound in bloody exploits: a Saint Teresa could only be the contemporary of the auto-da-fé, a Luther of the repression of the Peasants' Revolt. In every mystic outburst, the moans of victims parallel the moans of ecstasy ... Scaffolds, dungeons, jails flourish only in the shadow of a faith — of that need to believe which has infested the mind forever. The devil pales beside the man who owns a truth, his truth. We are unfair to a Nero, a Tiberius: it was not they who invented the concept heretic : they were only degenerate dreamers who happened to be entertained by massacres. The real criminals are men who establish an orthodoxy on the religious or political level, men who distinguish between the faithful and the schismatic. 

When we refuse to admit the interchangeable character of ideas, blood flows ... firm resolves draw the dagger; fiery eyes presage slaughter. No wavering mind, infected with Hamletism, was ever pernicious: the principle of evil lies in the will's tension, in the incapacity for quietism, in the Promethean megalomania of a race that bursts with ideals, that explodes with its convictions, and that, in return for having forsaken doubt and sloth — vices nobler than all its virtues — has taken the path to perdition, into history, that indecent alloy of banality and apocalypse ... Here certitudes abound: suppress them, best of all suppress their consequences, and you recover paradise. What is the Fall but the pursuit of a truth and the assurance you have found it, the passion for a dogma, domicile within a dogma? The result is fanaticism — fundamental defect which gives man the craving for effectiveness, for prophecy, for terror — a lyrical leprosy by which he contaminates souls, subdues them, crushes or exalts them ... Only the skeptics (or idlers or aesthetes) escape, because they propose nothing, because they — humanity's true benefactors - undermine fanaticism's purposes, analyze its frenzy. I feel safer with a Pyrrho than with a Saint Paul, for a jesting wisdom is gentler than an unbridled sanctity. In the fervent mind you always find the camouflaged beast of prey; no protection is adequate against the claws of a prophet ... Once he raises his voice, whether in the name of heaven, of the city, or some other excuse, away with you: satyr of your solitude, he will not forgive your living on the wrong side of his truths and his transports; he wants you to share his hysteria, his fullness, he wants to impose it on you, and thereby to disfigure you. A human being possessed by a belief and not eager to pass it on to others is a phenomenon alien to the earth, where our mania for salvation makes life unbreathable. Look around you: everywhere, specters preaching; each institution translates a mission; city halls have their absolute, even as the temples — officialdom, with its rules — a metaphysics designed for monkeys ... Everyone trying to remedy everyone's life: even beggars, even the incurable aspire to it: the sidewalks and hospitals of the world over-flow with reformers. The longing to become a source of events affects each man like a mental disorder or a desired malediction. Society — an inferno of saviors! What Diogenes was looking for with his lantern was an indifferent man ... 

It is enough for me to hear someone talk sincerely about ideals, about the future, about philosophy, to hear him say ‘we’ with a certain inflection of assurance, to hear him invoke ‘others’ and regard himself as their interpreter — for me to consider him my enemy. I see in him a tyrant manqué, an approximate executioner, quite as detestable as the first-rate tyrants, the first-rate executioners. Every faith practices some form of terror, all the more dreadful when the 'pure' are its agents. We mistrust the swindler, the trickster, the con man; yet to them we can impute none of history’s great convulsions; believing in nothing, it is not they who rummage in your hearts, or your ulterior motives; they leave you to your apathy, to your despair or to your uselessness; to them humanity owes the few moments of prosperity it has known: it is they who save the peoples whom fanatics torture and ‘idealists’ destroy. Doctrineless, they have only whims and interests, accommodating vices a thousand times more endurable than the ravages provoked by principled despotism; for all of life's evils come from a ‘conception of life.’ An accomplished politician should search out the ancient sophists and take lessons in oratory — and in corruption ... 

Whereas the fanatic is incorruptible: if he kills for an idea, he can just as well get himself killed for one; in either case, tyrant or martyr, he is a monster. No human beings are more dangerous than those who have suffered for a belief: the great persecutors are recruited among the martyrs not quite beheaded. Far from diminishing the appetite for power, suffering exasperates it; hence the mind feels more comfortable in the society of a braggart than in that of a martyr; and nothing is more repugnant to it than the spectacle of dying for an idea ... Revolted by the sublime and by carnage, the mind dreams of a provincial ennui on the scale of the universe, of a History whose stagnation would be so great that doubt would take on the lineaments of an event and hope a calamity ... 

The Anti-Prophet

In every man sleeps a prophet and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world ... 

The compulsion to preach is so rooted in us that it emerges from depths unknown to the instinct for self-preservation. Each of us awaits his moment in order to propose something — anything. He has a voice: that is enough. It costs us dear to be neither deaf nor dumb ... 

From snobs to scavengers, all expend their criminal generosity, all hand out formulas for happiness, all try to give directions: life in common thereby becomes intolerable, and life with oneself still more so; if you fail to meddle in other people's business you are so uneasy about your own that you convert your ‘self’ into a religion, or, apostle in reverse, you deny it altogether; we are victims of the universal game ... 

The abundance of solutions to the aspects of existence is equaled only by their futility. History: a factory of ideals ... lunatic mythology, frenzy of hordes and of solitaries ... refusal to look reality in the face, mortal thirst for fictions ... 

The source of our actions resides in an unconscious propensity to regard ourselves as the center, the cause, and the conclusion of time. Our reflexes and our pride transform into a planet the parcel of flesh and consciousness we are. If we had the right sense of our position in the world, if to compare were inseparable from to live, the revelation of our infinitesimal presence would crush us. But to live is to blind ourselves to our own dimensions ... 

And if all our actions — from breathing to the founding of empires or metaphysical systems — derive from an illusion as to our importance, the same is true a fortiori of the prophetic instinct. Who, with the exact vision of his nullity, would try to be effective and to turn himself into a savior? Nostalgia for a world without ‘ideals,’ for an agony without doctrine, for an eternity without life ... Paradise ... But we could not exist one second without deceiving ourselves: the prophet in each of us is just the seed of madness which makes us flourish in our void.

CLAIR, René, PICABIA, Francis. Entr'acte, filme, 02:07 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1924
CLAIR, René, PICABIA, Francis. Entr'acte, filme, 02:07 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1924
CLAIR, René, PICABIA, Francis. Entr'acte, filme, 02:07 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1924
CLASS WAR. We Have Found New Homes For The Rich, detalhe de capa de jornal Class War/ newspaper cover detail, ca. 1980
CLASS WAR. We Have Found New Homes For The Rich, detalhe de capa de jornal Class War/ newspaper cover detail, ca. 1980
CLASS WAR. We Have Found New Homes For The Rich, detalhe de capa de jornal Class War/ newspaper cover detail, ca. 1980
CLASS WAR. We Have Found New Homes For The Rich, detalhe de capa de jornal Class War/ newspaper cover detail, ca. 1980
CLASS WAR. Party, the Saturday After Thatcher Dies, cartaz/poster, 2013
CLASS WAR. Party, the Saturday After Thatcher Dies, cartaz/poster, 2013
CLASS WAR. Party, the Saturday After Thatcher Dies, cartaz/poster, 2013
CLASS WAR. Party, the Saturday After Thatcher Dies, cartaz/poster, 2013
CLASTRES, Pierre. [1972] Chronique des Indiens Guayaki : Ce que savent les Aché, chasseurs nomades du Paraguay, Terre Humaine, 1980, pp.30-31

Si la mythologie des Aché ne contient pas d’allusion directe à un incendie de la terre (pôle complémentaire du couple dévastateur qu’il forme avec le déluge), elle décrit par contre une époque où le monde ne connaissait pas l’obscurité; c’était le temps du jour éternel et le soleil, en permanence fixé au zénith, brûlait tout de ses rayons. On reconnaît là l’équivalent de l’incendie universel.

Chronique des indiens Guayaki

Pierre Clastres

La référence explicite au déluge universel, c’est-à-dire à un moment de la cataclysmologie guayaki, invite à scruter de plus près la signification de cette bûche enflammée. Si la mythologie des Aché ne contient pas d’allusion directe à un incendie de la terre (pôle complémentaire du couple dévastateur qu’il forme avec le déluge), elle décrit par contre une époque où le monde ne connaissait pas l’obscurité; c’était le temps du jour éternel et le soleil, en permanence fixé au zénith, brûlait tout de ses rayons. On reconnaît là l’équivalent de l’incendie universel. Sachant donc que la destruction de la terre par le feu est présente à la pensée cosmologique des Guayaki; considérant en outre l’atmosphère de désordre cosmique provoquée par la récente naissance, on peut admettre que la signification de ce tison éteint se hausse à la dimension générale – quasi sacrée – du contexte où il prend place, et qu’il est là pour occuper, en quelque sorte, la place vide que désigne « la grande eau rouge ». Le feu qui consume ce morceau de bois prend ici la figure métonymique du feu universel, et l’extinction des braises dans l’eau purifiante se dévoile acte conjurant de cet autre feu qui couve secrètement et dont la menace se trouve ainsi abolie.

Il n’y aura donc pas d’incendie universel. Le problème se formule maintenant ainsi: pour empêcher le déluge, il faut empêcher le feu céleste. S’agit-il là d’une relation de causalité unissant deux termes (le feu et l’eau) extérieurs l’un à l’autre ? Si tel était le cas, il serait très difficile, voire impossible, de découvrir la nature de ce lien, car les Indiens n’ont rien dit de plus à ce propos. Mais, si l’on s’en tient à ce qu’indique la pensée indigène inconsciente, il faut persister à voir dans l’eau et le feu un couple structuralement lié, un système à envisager tel quel si on veut le comprendre. Soit donc l’ensemble constitué par l’incendie et le déluge universels. L’un et l’autre sont les deux modes de disparition de la première humanité, les deux visages de l’apocalypse indienne, ils sont le système de la mort. Comme, d’autre part, l’un ne va pas sans l’autre – non point simultanément certes, mais au décours de l’éternité du temps – on peut s’attendre à voir la menace de l’un se redoubler de la menace représentée par son opposé complémentaire, surtout si les circonstances sont telles que le désordre prend mesure du cosmos. Bref, une naissance doit entraîner aussi bien l’incendie que le déluge. Il en résulte que si l’apparition de l’un entraîne nécessairement celle de l’autre, réciproquement la disparition du second détermine celle du premier: écarter en conséquence le risque d’incendie général en éteignant son image symbolique permet bien d’empêcher le déluge universel.

Reste à se demander pourquoi c’est la mort du feu que le rituel indien appelle à provoquer la mort de l’eau. Tout d’abord, il est plus facile de penser la suppression du feu par l’eau que le contraire. Néanmoins, il s’agit ici plutôt d’un problème d’antériorité chronologique: en effet, la mythologie guayaki (comme d’ailleurs celle de nombreuses autres tribus) situe l’incendie de la terre avant le déluge. On peut déceler dans le geste d’éteindre le tison – d’abolir la possibilité d’incendie –, pour écarter le danger contraire, la répétition rituelle de l’ordre temporel d’apparition du feu, puis de l’eau, que décrivent les mythes. Un ultime détail appelle explication : un adulte aurait-il pu accomplir ce qu’a fait la fillette, ou bien cette tâche ne pouvait-elle être exécutée que par un enfant? Observant qu’elle a trempé le tison non dans n’importe quelle eau, mais dans la décoction purifiante d’écorce de liane, on se rappellera que le climat où baignent depuis hier soir la vie de la tribu, et la vie de l’univers lui-même, se trouve profondément marqué d’impureté génératrice de désordre. C’est bien pour cela que les Indiens ont recours à l’eau lustrale afin de dissoudre cette impureté et d’éliminer ce désordre ; c’est pour cela aussi que, semblables ainsi à tout autre adulte dans la foi qui les lie à l’enfance, ils confient à une main innocente, encore épargnée de la grande contamination qui grève irrémédiablement l’âge d’homme, le soin de les sauver. Que disent finalement les mots des Indiens, et quelle mesure dessinent leurs gestes? Ne découvrons-nous pas en leur langue le son familier des certitudes les plus humbles et les plus douloureuses? Une naissance d’enfant porte en soi un germe mortel, elle met en question l’existence des autres: nous assiège ici le sage et cruel constat que les hommes ne sont pas des dieux et que toute position de vie fait pour eux signe vers leur mort.

COBAIN, Ian, BOWCOTT, Owen, NORTON-TAYLOR, Richard. Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes, The Guardian, Qua/Wed 18 Abr/Apr 2012

post-independence governments should not get any material that "might embarrass Her Majesty's government", that could "embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others e.g. police informers", that might compromise intelligence sources, or that might "be used unethically by ministers in the successor government".

Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes

Ian Cobain, Owen Bowcott and Richard Norton-Taylor

Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded.

Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.

The archive came to light last year when a group of Kenyans detained and allegedly tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion won the right to sue the British government. The Foreign Office promised to release the 8,800 files from 37 former colonies held at the highly-secure government communications centre at Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire.

The historian appointed to oversee the review and transfer, Tony Badger, master of Clare College, Cambridge, says the discovery of the archive put the Foreign Office in an "embarrassing, scandalous" position. "These documents should have been in the public archives in the 1980s," he said. "It's long overdue." The first of them are made available to the public on Wednesday at the National Archive at Kew, Surrey.

The papers at Hanslope Park include monthly intelligence reports on the "elimination" of the colonial authority's enemies in 1950s Malaya; records showing ministers in London were aware of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya, including a case of a man said to have been "roasted alive"; and papers detailing the lengths to which the UK went to forcibly remove islanders from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

However, among the documents are a handful which show that many of the most sensitive papers from Britain's late colonial era were not hidden away, but simply destroyed. These papers give the instructions for systematic destruction issued in 1961 after Iain Macleod, secretary of state for the colonies, directed that post-independence governments should not get any material that "might embarrass Her Majesty's government", that could "embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others e.g. police informers", that might compromise intelligence sources, or that might "be used unethically by ministers in the successor government".

Among the documents that appear to have been destroyed were: records of the abuse of Mau Mau insurgents detained by British colonial authorities, who were tortured and sometimes murdered; reports that may have detailed the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers in Malaya by soldiers of the Scots Guards in 1948; most of the sensitive documents kept by colonial authorities in Aden, where the army's Intelligence Corps operated a secret torture centre for several years in the 1960s; and every sensitive document kept by the authorities in British Guiana, a colony whose policies were heavily influenced by successive US governments and whose post-independence leader was toppled in a coup orchestrated by the CIA.

The documents that were not destroyed appear to have been kept secret not only to protect the UK's reputation, but to shield the government from litigation. If the small group of Mau Mau detainees are successful in their legal action, thousands more veterans are expected to follow.

It is a case that is being closely watched by former Eoka guerillas who were detained by the British in 1950s Cyprus, and possibly by many others who were imprisoned and interrogated between 1946 and 1967, as Britain fought a series of rear-guard actions across its rapidly diminishing empire.

The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as "Legacy files" – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red letter W.

The papers at Kew depict a period of mounting anxiety amid fears that some of the incriminating watch files might be leaked. Officials were warned that they would be prosecuted if they took any paperwork home – and some were. As independence grew closer, large caches of files were removed from colonial ministries to governors' offices, where new safes were installed.

In Uganda, the process was codenamed Operation Legacy. In Kenya, a vetting process, described as "a thorough purge", was overseen by colonial Special Branch officers.

Clear instructions were issued that no Africans were to be involved: only an individual who was "a servant of the Kenya government who is a British subject of European descent" could participate in the purge.

Painstaking measures were taken to prevent post-independence governments from learning that the watch files had ever existed. One instruction states: "The legacy files must leave no reference to watch material. Indeed, the very existence of the watch series, though it may be guessed at, should never be revealed."

When a single watch file was to be removed from a group of legacy files, a "twin file" – or dummy – was to be created to insert in its place. If this was not practicable, the documents were to be removed en masse. There was concern that Macleod's directions should not be divulged – "there is of course the risk of embarrassment should the circular be compromised" – and officials taking part in the purge were even warned to keep their W stamps in a safe place.

Many of the watch files ended up at Hanslope Park. They came from 37 different former colonies, and filled 200 metres of shelving. But it is becoming clear that much of the most damning material was probably destroyed. Officials in some colonies, such as Kenya, were told that there should be a presumption in favour of disposal of documents rather than removal to the UK – "emphasis is placed upon destruction" – and that no trace of either the documents or their incineration should remain. When documents were burned, "the waste should be reduced to ash and the ashes broken up".

Some idea of the scale of the operation and the amount of documents that were erased from history can be gleaned from a handful of instruction documents that survived the purge. In certain circumstances, colonial officials in Kenya were informed, "it is permissible, as an alternative to destruction by fire, for documents to be packed in weighted crates and dumped in very deep and current-free water at maximum practicable distance from the coast".

Documents that survive from Malaya suggest a far more haphazard destruction process, with relatively junior officials being permitted to decide what should be burned and what should be sent to London.

Dr. Ed Hampshire, diplomatic and colonial record specialist at the National Archive, said the 1,200 files so far transferred from Hanslope Park represented "gold dust" for historians, with the occasional nugget, rather than a haul that calls for instant reinterpretation of history. However, only one sixth of the secret archive has so far been transferred. The remainder are expected to be at Kew by the end of 2013.

COLEMAN, Tech. Sgt. Joe. Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, 18 Abril/April 1991
COLEMAN, Tech. Sgt. Joe. Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, 18 Abril/April 1991
COLEMAN, Tech. Sgt. Joe. Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, 18 Abril/April 1991
COLEMAN, Tech. Sgt. Joe. Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, 18 Abril/April 1991
CORNER, Philip, MACIUNAS, George, WILLIAMS, Emmett, PATTERSON, Benjamin, HIGGINS,Dick, KNOWLES Alison. Piano Activities, during Fluxus Internationale Festpiele Neuester Musik, Hörsaal des Städtischen Museums, Wiesbaden, Germany, September 1, 1962
CORNER, Philip, MACIUNAS, George, WILLIAMS, Emmett, PATTERSON, Benjamin, HIGGINS,Dick, KNOWLES Alison. Piano Activities, during Fluxus Internationale Festpiele Neuester Musik, Hörsaal des Städtischen Museums, Wiesbaden, Germany, September 1, 1962
CORNER, Philip, MACIUNAS, George, WILLIAMS, Emmett, PATTERSON, Benjamin, HIGGINS,Dick, KNOWLES Alison. Piano Activities, during Fluxus Internationale Festpiele Neuester Musik, Hörsaal des Städtischen Museums, Wiesbaden, Germany, September 1, 1962
CORNER, Philip, MACIUNAS, George, WILLIAMS, Emmett, PATTERSON, Benjamin, HIGGINS,Dick, KNOWLES Alison. Piano Activities, during Fluxus Internationale Festpiele Neuester Musik, Hörsaal des Städtischen Museums, Wiesbaden, Germany, September 1, 1962
COSSERY, Albert. [1964] A Violência e o Escárnio, trad. Júlio Henriques, Antígona, 1999. pp.97-154

Ao ouvir os louvores tecidos em honra do governador, Khaled Omar não pôde reprimir o contentamento; abanava a cabeça como um doido, levando as mãos ao peito como se estivesse a sufocar de satisfação.

A Violência e o Escárnio

Albert Cossery

VII

[...] A certa distância um do outro, porque o mínimo contacto se tornava insuportável na atmosfera sobreaquecida, rumaram para o bairro portuário, atravessando uma infinidade de vielas desertas, onde se viam, nas raras lojas abertas, comerciantes dormindo a sesta refastelados numa cadeira — de lenço bem estendido na cara para se livrarem das moscas. Estes dormidores eram tão parecidos com cadáveres que Karim desviava sempre os olhos, arrepiado. Mais à frente, uns miúdos meio nus brincavam nuns charcos de água que o carro municipal de limpeza deixara ao passar; divertiam-se, alegres e até endereçaram a Karim umas graçolas tão inconsistentes como o espírito das respectivas mães. O incidente fez o jovem suspirar ruidosamente. Achava ele que esta nova geração de crianças tinha pouca astúcia no insulto, imputando ao novo regime tão grave deficiência. O calor, porém, impediu-o de se concentrar naqueles mortificantes pensamentos. Tinha pressa de sair da fornalha; estugando o passo, arrastou Urfi, que vinha atrás dele.

Ao fim de uns vinte minutos daquele passeio delirante, uma brisa ligeira anunciou a vizinhança do mar; divisavam-se já, através dos espaços entre os prédios, os longos paquetes junto aos cais, sonolentos e plácidos, presos às respectivas âncoras. Karim parou diante de um vetusto edifício pintado de amarelo, tirou uma chave do bolso e abriu o cadeado que fechava os dois batentes de um portão imenso. 

— Entra, disse ele a Urfi. 

O armazém que Khaled Omar pusera à disposição continha uma quantidade enorme de mercadorias diversas; sacos e caixas em número incalculável amontoavam-se contra as paredes, do chão de terra batida até ao tecto. Fora preciso desocupar o centro do recinto para instalar a impressora manual, cujas superfícies metálicas luziam debilmente na penumbra. O sítio disponível não era muito vasto, tendo Urfi a impressão de que todos aqueles caixotes lhe iam desabar em cima. Avançou com precauções, de olhos fixos na única trapeira, protegida com rede, por onde ali chegava uma luz fraquinha. Era o seu único ponto de referência na quase obscuridade, logo seguir à ofuscante luz da rua. Ao chegar debaixo da trapeira, viu que tinham ali instalado, para lhes facilitarem o trabalho, uma mesa e duas cadeiras. Sobre a mesa estavam várias caixas de caracteres tipográficos. Sentou-se numa cadeira e, enxugando a testa com um lenço, admirou a forma metálica que se destacava, como um animal fabuloso no meio da confusão de mercadorias. 

Karim activou-se à volta da máquina impressora com o ar de uma criança divertindo-se a desmontar um brinquedo complicado. Virou-se para Urfi.

— É magnífica, não é? disse ele com o orgulho de quem acaba de fazer uma rica aquisição. E é quase nova. Khaled Omar é um mãos largas, não hesitou nos gastos.
— Estou a ver que sim, anuiu Urfi. Dir-me-ás como poderei ajudar-te. 
— Daqui a pouco vais ajudar-me a compor os caracteres. Já te explico como isso se faz, não é difícil. Mas primeiro vou acender a luz, não se vê nada. 

Foi accionar o comutador. Acenderam-se duas lâmpadas, sem quebra-luz, suspensas do tecto por fios, projectando uma luz crua que trouxe logo para ali, embora em menor grau, o calor da rua.

— Vamos a isto, disse Karim, aproximando-se da mesa e sentando-se na outra cadeira. 
— Às tuas ordens, respondeu Urfi. 

*

Quando às nove da noite Heikal chegou, em companhia de Khaled Omar, já estavam impressos mais de quinhentos cartazes, ornados com o retrato do governador em trajo militar, empilhados no chão do armazém. O negociante envergava um fato de verde-garrafa e uma gravata vermelha de efeito fulminante; cheirava mais do que nunca ao perfume de violetas. Dirigiu-se a Karim, pegou no jovem pelos braços, deu-lhe um beijo em ambas as faces e felicitou-o generosamente. As suas exclamações enchiam de ecos sonoros o silêncio que àquela hora reinava no bairro portuário. 

— Já fizeste isto tudo! Es mesmo um génio! 

Khaled Omar suspendeu os seus ímpetos quando viu Heikal começar a ler em voz alta um exemplar do cartaz, articulando cuidadosamente cada uma das palavras, em ar solene, como se lesse uma sentença de morte. Ao ouvir os louvores tecidos em honra do governador, Khaled Omar não pôde reprimir o contentamento; abanava a cabeça como um doido, levando as mãos ao peito como se estivesse a sufocar de satisfação. De facto verificava plenamente a perfídia mortal daquela farsa, felicitando-se por ser um dos seus promotores.

— Este retrato, só por si, é bastante eloquente, disse Heikal quando acabou de ler. Mas inclino-me perante o autor do comentário. Com isto, ele acaba de suicidar o nosso bem-amado governador. 

[...]

— Nesse caso, ouve-me. Logo que estes forem colados pela cidade, vão provocar um assombro enorme. Os próprios lacaios do regime irão pensar que esta publicidade toda talvez seja obra do governador. Vai haver uma confusão terrível. Por isso convém não ficarmos a meio caminho. Para já, vamos encher a cidade com estes cartazes; depois faremos outros. A partir de agora, iremos consagrar-nos ao culto do governador. E isso até nas conversas que tivermos com as pessoas. Posso contar contigo? 

Mas Urfi não teve tempo de responder, ouvindo-se de súbito o riso tumultuoso de Khaled Omar; estendido na cadeira, este ouvia de novo Karim ler-lhe o texto do cartaz. O negociante, não se cansando ouvir aquele panegírico repleto de jactância, reclamava novas leituras ao seu jovem amigo; e este parecia felicíssimo por satisfazê-lo. 

[...]

— Preparaste tudo para esta noite? perguntou a Karim. 
— Está tudo pronto, respondeu Karim. Tenho encontro marcado para daqui a pouco com alguns camaradas que vêm ter comigo. Vamos formar vários grupos e distribuir-nos pelos bairros da cidade. 
— Óptimo. Foste espantoso! 
— Quando penso nos cartazes que colava há uns anos, sempre a dizerem mal do governador! 
— Desta vez vais dizer bem. É uma mudança. 
— Vou com vocês, propôs Khaled Omar. Apetece-me colar pelo menos um. 
— Não é boa ideia, interveio Heikal. 

Não disse porquê, mas pensava que a fatiota colorida e o riso barulhento de Khaled Omar não deixariam de chamar a atenção, pondo o grupo em risco. 

— Inclino -me perante as tuas ordens, disse o negociante, nada melindrado.

Heikal sorriu-lhe, dizendo depois a todos: 

— Queiram desculpar-me, mas vejo-me obrigado deixar-vos. 

Foi à pilha de cartazes amontoados no chão, pegou num, contemplou-o longamente, dobrou-o e escondeu-o no bolso interior do casaco. 

— Vou talvez precisar dele esta noite, anunciou com ar enigmático. Adeus a todos!

Saiu do armazém e pôs-se a caminhar pelas desertas, respirando com regozijo o cheiro vivificante do mar. 

VIII

[...] a carta que Heikal enviara aos jornais, pedindo uma subscrição pública com vista a ser erguida uma estátua em honra do governador, fora publicada há uns quinze dias. A missiva espalhara a consternação até entre os mais fiéis partidários do governador e do seu poder ditatorial. Tinham começado a circular boatos segundo os quais o governo central se inquietava com uma tal popularidade, começando a suspeitar de um homem capaz de organizar tamanha propaganda para benefício pessoal. Mas os cidadãos pouco informados — sem saberem de onde aquilo vinha — tinham manifestado logo o seu civismo. O dinheiro afluía de toda a parte; dir-se-ia um maná celeste que nada poderia esgotar. E a lista dos doadores continuava a crescer todos os dias nos jornais. O próprio Karim fez questão de nela figurar, desfazendo-se de uma piastra em prol da estátua. O nome dele, porém, nunca foi mencionado, coisa que o levava agora a lamentar amargamente a piastra oferecida, entristecido por não terem ligado ao seu generoso óbulo. Alguns leitores, cínicos ou inconscientes, haviam escrito aos jornais para recomendarem determinado escultor, por sinal amigo deles, e para indicarem o local onde melhor ficaria a estátua. O delírio atingia o ponto culminante. Por isso mesmo, era altura de Heikal propor uma nova farsa, caso esta não fosse suficiente para desacreditar por completo o governador. Karim devia ir a casa dele esta noite, justamente para discutirem o problema. A situação do governador fora sem dúvida abalada, mas convinha não descurarem os imponderáveis. Karim, no fundo, desejava que o governador se aguentasse ainda uns meses, de modo a erguerem-lhe a estátua. Seria mesmo gozado, se chegassem a tanto! Ah, ver o governador num pedestal! Com um pouco de sorte, talvez isso acontecesse. 

A noite fora caindo lentamente e de súbito os altos candeeiros acenderam-se, estendendo o seu colar de pérolas brilhantes ao longo da avenida marginal. No entanto, embora o ar se tivesse tornado mais respirável, a frescura tardava. 

COSTA, Pedro, DAVID, Catherine, FERNANDES, João. Fora/Out!, Fundação de Serralves, 2007. pp. 63-69  

E qualquer imagem capturada pode apagar-se e dar lugar a outra, instantaneamente. Nenhuma imagem permanece. O cinema já não é preciso para nada.

Fora

Pedro Costa

PC - Mas as grandes aflições do cinema e do vídeo hoje em dia são o plot e o gag. Eu resumia a coisa assim: para o cinema o plot, para a vídeo-arte o gag.

O trabalho que eu gosto de fazer precisa de perseverança e não de urgência, de paciência e abandono também… eu trabalho assim para perder coisas, para perder tempo, todos os dias… não ando a correr atrás dos “apanhados”. É preciso pescar todos os dias mas nem tudo o que vem à rede é peixe. É preciso perder muito, e algumas certezas também, para poder ganhar a convicção de que vale a pena.

[...]

JF – Pedro, falavas há pouco da diferença entre a sala de cinema e a sala de exposição, da tua rejeição de muitas das manifestações da imagem em movimento nas galerias e nos museus, reivindicando a necessidade de uma outra atitude. Ao mesmo tempo tens aceite alguns convites para participar em exposições…

PC – É verdade que sempre que vejo um monitor ao fundo de uma sala num museu fujo a sete pés.

Mas ando a pensar que talvez valha a pena… interessar as pessoas por uma determinada maneira de ver e ouvir o mundo, por uma forma de arte arcaica e quase perdida chamada cinema. Interessá-las por estas paredes, aproximá-las do mundo, já não era mau. A mim, pouco me interessa a experiência formal ou a imagem pela imagem ou a pesquisa plástica. O movimento, a tensão que eu tento construir com os meus meios, tende para outras esferas, para outra experiência do sensível.

Tudo está a esvaziar-se, por toda a parte: museus, galerias, cinemas, teatros, salas de concertos. Cada vez há mais público e cada vez há mais vazio dentro desses locais públicos de arte e espectáculo. O grande cinema americano foi-se, o alemão, o italiano, todos se foram, e as pessoas com eles e, de uma certa maneira, foi-se uma parte da realidade que me interessava e com a qual trabalho. Provavelmente, porque o modo de vida e a sensibilidade dos espectadores já não encontram consolo nessa experiência que se chamava cinema. Qualquer pessoa pode filmar ou fotografar. Basta um telemóvel. E qualquer imagem capturada pode apagar-se e dar lugar a outra, instantaneamente. Nenhuma imagem permanece. O cinema já não é preciso para nada.

Eu tenho esta consciência de que o cinema é uma experiência insubstituível, memorial, que pode servir de prova. [...]

CRARY, Jonathan. 24/7, Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep, Verso, 2013. pp. 3-29

24/7 announces a time without time, a time extracted from any material or identifiable demarcations, a time without sequence or recurrence. In its peremptory reductiveness, it celebrates a hallucination of presence, of an unalterable permanence composed of incessant, frictionless operations. It belongs to the aftermath of a common life made into the object of technics.

24/7

Jonathan Crary

24/7 markets and a global infrastructure for continuous work and consumption have been in place for some time, but now a human subject is in the making to coincide with these more intensively.

In the late 1990s a Russian/European space consortium announced plans to build and launch into orbit satellites that would reflect sunlight back onto earth. The scheme called for a chain of many satellites to be placed in sun-synchronized orbits at an altitude of 1700 kilometers, each one equipped with fold-out parabolic reflectors of paper-thin material. Once fully extended to 200 meters in diameter, each mirror satellite would have the capacity to illuminate a ten-square-mile area on earth with a brightness nearly 100 times greater than moonlight. The initial impetus for the project was to provide illumination for industrial and natural resource exploitation in remote geographical areas with long polar nights in Siberia and western Russia, allowing outdoor work to proceed round the clock. But the company subsequently expanded its plans to include the possibility of supplying nighttime lighting for entire metropolitan areas. Reasoning that it could reduce energy costs for electric lighting, the company’s slogan pitched its services as “daylight all night long.” Opposition to the project arose immediately and from many directions. Astronomers expressed dismay because of the consequences for most earth-based space observation. Scientists and environmentalists declared it would have detrimental physiological consequences for both animals and humans, in that the absence of regular alternations between night and day would disrupt various metabolic patterns, including sleep. There were also protests from cultural and humanitarian groups, who argued that the night sky is a commons to which all of humanity is entitled to have access, and that the ability to experience the darkness of night and observe the stars is a basic human right that no corporation can nullify. However, if this is in any sense a right or privilege, it is already being violated for over half of the world’s population in cities that are enveloped continuously in a penumbra of smog and high-intensity illumination. Defenders of the project, though, asserted that such technology would help lower nocturnal use of electricity, and that a loss of the night sky and its darkness is a small price to pay for reducing global energy consumption. In any case, this ultimately unworkable enterprise is one particular instance of a contemporary imaginary in which a state of permanent illumination is inseparable from the non-stop operation of global exchange and circulation. In its entrepreneurial excess, the project is a hyperbolic expression of an institutional intolerance of whatever obscures or prevents an instrumentalized and unending condition of visibility.

[…] Behind the vacuity of the catchphrase, 24/7 is a static redundancy that disavows its relation to the rhythmic and periodic textures of human life. It connotes an arbitrary, uninflected schema of a week, extracted from any unfolding of variegated or cumulative experience. To say “24/365,” for example, is simply not the same, for this introduces an unwieldy suggestion of an extended temporality in which something might actually change, in which unforeseen events might happen. As I indicated initially, many institutions in the developed world have been running 24/7 for decades now. It is only recently that the elaboration, the modeling of one’s personal and social identity, has been reorganized to conform to the uninterrupted operation of markets, information networks, and other systems. A 24/7 environment has the semblance of a social world, but it is actually a non-social model of machinic performance and a suspension of living that does not disclose the human cost required to sustain its effectiveness. It must be distinguished from what Lukács and others in the early twentieth century identified as the empty, homogenous time of modernity, the metric or calendar time of nations, of finance or industry, from which individual hopes or projects were excluded. What is new is the sweeping abandonment of the pretense that time is coupled to any long-term undertakings, even to fantasies of “progress” or development. An illuminated 24/7 world without shadows is the final capitalist mirage of post-history, of an exorcism of the otherness that is the motor of historical change.

24/7 is a time of indifference, against which the fragility of human life is increasingly inadequate and within which sleep has no necessity or inevitability. In relation to labor, it renders plausible, even normal, the idea of working without pause, without limits.
[…] The long-term survival of the individual is always dispensable if the alternative might even indirectly admit the possibility of interludes with no shopping or its promotion. In related ways, 24/7 is inseparable from environmental catastrophe in its declaration of permanent expenditure, of endless wastefulness for its sustenance, in its terminal disruption of the cycles and seasons on which ecological integrity depends.

In its profound uselessness and intrinsic passivity, with the incalculable losses it causes in production time, circulation, and consumption, sleep will always collide with the demands of a 24/7 universe. The huge portion of our lives that we spend asleep, freed from a morass of simulated needs, subsists as one of the great human affronts to the voraciousness of contemporary capitalism. Sleep is an uncompromising interruption of the theft of time from us by capitalism. Most of the seemingly irreducible necessities of human life — hunger, thirst, sexual desire, and recently the need for friendship — have been remade into commodified or financialized forms. Sleep poses the idea of a human need and interval of time that cannot be colonized and harnessed to a massive engine of profitability, and thus remains an incongruous anomaly and site of crisis in the global present. In spite of all the scientific research in this area, it frustrates and confounds any strategies to exploit or reshape it. The stunning, inconceivable reality is that nothing of value can be extracted from it.

It should be no surprise that there is an erosion of sleep now everywhere, given the immensity of what is at stake economically. Over the course of the twentieth century there were steady inroads made against the time of sleep —the average North American adult now sleeps approximately six and a half hours a night, an erosion from eight hours a generation ago, and (hard as it is to believe) down from ten hours in the early twentieth century. In the mid twentieth century the familiar adage that “we spend a third of our lives asleep” seemed to have an axiomatic certainty, a certainty that continues to be undermined. Sleep is a ubiquitous but unseen reminder of a premodernity that has never been fully exceeded, of the agricultural universe which began vanishing 400 years ago. The scandal of sleep is the embeddedness in our lives of the rhythmic oscillations of solar light and darkness, activity and rest, of work and recuperation, that have been eradicated or neutralized elsewhere.

[…] Sleep is an irrational and intolerable affirmation that there might be limits to the compatibility of living beings with the allegedly irresistible forces of modernization. One of the familiar truisms of contemporary critical thought is that there are no unalterable givens of nature —not even death, according to those who predict we will all soon be downloading our minds into digital immortality.

[…] In the nineteenth century, following the worst abuses in the treatment of workers that accompanied industrialization in Europe, factory managers came to the realization that it would be more profitable if workers were allowed modest amounts of rest time to enable them to be more effective and sustainable producers in the long run, as Anson Rabinbach has well shown in his work on the science of fatigue. But by the last decades of the twentieth century and into the present, with the collapse of controlled or mitigated forms of capitalism in the United States and Europe, there has ceased to be any internal necessity for having rest and recuperation as components of economic growth and profitability. Time for human rest and regeneration is now simply too expensive to be structurally possible within contemporary capitalism. Teresa Brennan coined the term “bioderegulation” to describe the brutal discrepancies between the temporal operation of deregulated markets and the intrinsic physical limitations of the humans required to conform to these demands.1

[…] 24/7 steadily undermines distinctions between day and night, between light and dark, and between action and repose. It is a zone of insensibility, of amnesia, of what defeats the possibility of experience. To paraphrase Maurice Blanchot, it is both of and after the disaster, characterized by the empty sky, in which no star or sign is visible, in which one’s bearings are lost and orientation is impossible.2 More concretely, it is like a state of emergency, when a bank of floodlights are suddenly switched on in the middle of the night, seemingly as a response to some extreme circumstances, but which never get turned off and become domesticated into a permanent condition. The planet becomes reimagined as a non-stop work site or an always open shopping mall of infinite choices, tasks, selections, and digressions. Sleeplessness is the state in which producing, consuming, and discarding occur without pause, hastening the exhaustion of life and the depletion of resources.

As the major remaining obstacle — in effect, the last of what Marx called “natural barriers” — to the full realization of 24/7 capitalism, sleep cannot be eliminated. But it can be wrecked and despoiled, and, as my opening examples show, methods and motivations to accomplish this wrecking are fully in place. The injuring of sleep is inseparable from the ongoing dismantling of social protections in other spheres. Just as universal access to clean drinking water has been programmatically devastated around the globe by pollution and privatization, with the accompanying monetization of bottled water, it is not difficult to see a similar construction of scarcity in relation to sleep. All of the encroachments on it create the insomniac conditions in which sleep must be bought (even if one is paying for a chemically modified state only approximating actual sleep). Statistics of soaring use of hypnotics show that, in 2010, around fifty million Americans were prescribed compounds like Ambien or Lunesta, and many millions more bought over-the-counter sleep products […]. Sleeplessness takes on its historical significance and its particular affective texture in relation to the collective experiences external to it, and insomnia is now inseparable from many other forms of dispossession and social ruin occurring globally. As an individual privation in our present, it is continuous with a generalized condition of worldlessness.

[…] A 24/7 world is a disenchanted one in its eradication of shadows and obscurity and of alternate temporalities. It is a world identical to itself, a world with the shallowest of pasts, and thus in principle without specters. But the homogeneity of the present is an effect of the fraudulent brightness that presumes to extend everywhere and to preempt any mystery or unknowability. A 24/7 world produces an apparent equivalence between what is immediately available, accessible, or utilizable and what exists. The spectral is, in some way, the intrusion or disruption of the present by something out of time and by the ghosts of what has not been deleted by modernity, of victims who will not be forgotten, of unfulfilled emancipation. The routines of 24/7 can neutralize or absorb many dislocating experiences of return that could potentially undermine the substantiality and identity of the present and its apparent self-sufficiency.

[…] 24/7 announces a time without time, a time extracted from any material or identifiable demarcations, a time without sequence or recurrence. In its peremptory reductiveness, it celebrates a hallucination of presence, of an unalterable permanence composed of incessant, frictionless operations. It belongs to the aftermath of a common life made into the object of technics.

1 Teresa Brennan, Globalization and Its Terrors: Daily Life in the West, London: Routledge, 2003, pp. 19–22.
2 Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster, transl. Ann Smock, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1995, pp. 48–50.

CURRY, Marshall. A Night at the Garden, 01:44 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2017
CURRY, Marshall. A Night at the Garden, 01:44 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2017
CURRY, Marshall. A Night at the Garden, 01:44 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2017
CUSACK, Peter. Chernobyl frogs, in Sounds from Dangerous Places, 07:05 mins., ReR Megacorp, 2012
CUSACK, Peter. Chernobyl frogs, in Sounds from Dangerous Places, 07:05 mins., ReR Megacorp, 2012
D´ORVAL, Perrinet. Traité des feux d'artifice pour le spectacle et pour la guerre, A Berne Chez Wagner & Muller, 1750
D´ORVAL, Perrinet. Traité des feux d'artifice pour le spectacle et pour la guerre, A Berne Chez Wagner & Muller, 1750
D´ORVAL, Perrinet. Traité des feux d'artifice pour le spectacle et pour la guerre, A Berne Chez Wagner & Muller, 1750
D´ORVAL, Perrinet. Traité des feux d'artifice pour le spectacle et pour la guerre, A Berne Chez Wagner & Muller, 1750
DAVIES, Paul. [2012] Time's Passage is Probably an Illusion, scientificamerican.com, 24 Outubro/October 2014

Because nature abounds with irreversible physical processes, the second law of thermodynamics plays a key role in imprinting on the world a conspicuous asymmetry between past and future directions along the time axis. By convention, the arrow of time points toward the future. This does not imply, however, that the arrow is moving toward the future, any more than a compass needle pointing north indicates that the compass is traveling north. Both arrows symbolize an asymmetry, not a movement. The arrow of time denotes an asymmetry of the world in time, not an asymmetry of flux of time. The labels “past” and “future” may legitimately be applied to temporal directions, just as “up” and “down” may be applied to spatial directions, but talk of the past or the future is as meaningless as referring to the up or the down.

Time's Passage is Probably an Illusion

Paul Davies

“The past, present and future are only illusions, even if stubborn ones.” Einstein's startling conclusion stems directly from his special theory of relativity, which denies any absolute, universal significance to the present moment.
[…]
If you and I were in relative motion, an event that I might judge to be in the as yet undecided future might for you already exist in the fixed past.
The most straightforward conclusion is that both past and future are fixed. For this reason, physicists prefer to think of time as laid out in its entirety—a timescape, analogous to a landscape—with all past and future events located there together. It is a notion sometimes referred to as block time. Completely absent from this description of nature is anything that singles out a privileged, special moment as the present or any process that would systematically turn future events into present, then past, events. In short, the time of the physicist does not pass or flow.
A number of philosophers over the years have arrived at the same conclusion by examining what we normally mean by the passage of time. They argue that the notion is internally inconsistent. The concept of flux, after all, refers to motion. It makes sense to talk about the movement of a physical object, such as an arrow through space, by gauging how its location varies with time. But what meaning can be attached to the movement of time itself? Relative to what does it move? Whereas other types of motion relate one physical process to another, the putative flow of time relates time to itself. 
[…]
To deny that time flows is not to claim that the designations “past” and “future” are without physical basis. Events in the world undeniably form a unidirectional sequence. For instance, an egg dropped on the floor will smash into pieces, whereas the reverse process—a broken egg spontaneously assembling itself into an intact egg—is never witnessed. This is an example of the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of a closed system—roughly defined as how disordered it is—will tend to rise with time. An intact egg has lower entropy than a shattered one.
Because nature abounds with irreversible physical processes, the second law of thermodynamics plays a key role in imprinting on the world a conspicuous asymmetry between past and future directions along the time axis. By convention, the arrow of time points toward the future. This does not imply, however, that the arrow is moving toward the future, any more than a compass needle pointing north indicates that the compass is traveling north. Both arrows symbolize an asymmetry, not a movement. The arrow of time denotes an asymmetry of the world in time, not an asymmetry of flux of time. The labels “past” and “future” may legitimately be applied to temporal directions, just as “up” and “down” may be applied to spatial directions, but talk of the past or the future is as meaningless as referring to the up or the down.
[…]
«After all, we do not really observe the passage of time. What we actually observe is that later states of the world differ from earlier states that we still remember. The fact that we remember the past, rather than the future, is an observation not of the passage of time but of the asymmetry of time. Nothing other than a conscious observer registers the flow of time. 
[…]
«There are two aspects to time asymmetry that might create the false impression that time is flowing. The first is the thermodynamic distinction between past and future. As physicists have realized over the past few decades, the concept of entropy is closely related to the information content of a system. For this reason, the formation of memory is a unidirectional process—new memories add information and raise the entropy of the brain. We might perceive this unidirectionality as the flow of time.
A second possibility is that our perception of the flow of time is linked in some way to quantum mechanics. It was appreciated from the earliest days of the formulation of quantum mechanics that time enters into the theory in a unique manner, quite unlike space. The special role of time is one reason it is proving so difficult to merge quantum mechanics with general relativity. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle, according to which nature is inherently indeterministic, implies an open future (and, for that matter, an open past). This indeterminism manifests itself most conspicuously on an atomic scale of size and dictates that the observable properties that characterize a physical system are generally undecided from one moment to the next.
For example, an electron hitting an atom may bounce off in one of many directions, and it is normally impossible to predict in advance what the outcome in any given case will be. Quantum indeterminism implies that for a particular quantum state there are many (possibly infinite) alternative futures or potential realities. Quantum mechanics supplies the relative probabilities for each observable outcome, although it won't say which potential future is destined for reality. But when a human observer makes a measurement, one and only one result is obtained; for example, the rebounding electron will be found moving in a certain direction. In the act of measurement, a single, specific reality gets projected out from a vast array of possibilities. Within the observer's mind, the possible makes a transition to the actual, the open future to the fixed past—which is precisely what we mean by the flux of time.
There is no agreement among physicists on how this transition from many potential realities into a single actuality takes place. Many physicists have argued that it has something to do with the consciousness of the observer, on the basis that it is the act of observation that prompts nature to make up its mind.

DEAD KENNEDYS. The On Broadway's LAST NIGHT Concert, San Francisco, 16 June 1984, VHS, 57:29 mins., 1984
DEAD KENNEDYS. The On Broadway's LAST NIGHT Concert, San Francisco, 16 June 1984, VHS, 57:29 mins., 1984
DEAD KENNEDYS. The On Broadway's LAST NIGHT Concert, San Francisco, 16 June 1984, VHS, 57:29 mins., 1984
DEBORD, Guy. [1967] A Sociedade do Espectáculo, trad. Francisco Alves, Afonso Monteiro, Mobilis in Mobile, Lisboa, 1991. pp.103-107

126

O movimento propriamente histórico, embora ainda escondido, começa na lenta e insensível formação da «natureza real do homem», esta «natureza que nasce na história humana — no acto gerador da sociedade humana —», mas a sociedade que então dominou uma técnica e uma linguagem, se é já o produto da sua própria história, não tem consciência senão de um presente perpétuo. Todo o conhecimento, limitado à memória dos mais velhos, é sempre aí levado pelos vivos. Nem a morte nem a procriação são compreendidas como uma lei do tempo. O tempo permanece imóvel como um espaço fechado. Quando uma sociedade mais complexa acaba por tomar consciência do tempo, o seu trabalho é bem mais o de negar, porque ela vê no tempo não o que passa, mas o que regressa. A sociedade estática organiza o tempo segundo a sua experiência imediata da natureza, sob o modelo do tempo cíclico.

 

127

O tempo cíclico é já dominante na experiência dos povos nómadas, porque são as mesmas condições que se reencontram perante eles a cada momento da sua passagem: Hegel nota que «a errância dos nómadas é somente formal, porque está limitada a espaços uniformes». A sociedade, que ao fixar-se localmente dá ao espaço um conteúdo pela ordenação dos lugares individualizados, encontra-se por isso mesmo encerrada no interior desta localização. O regresso temporal a lugares semelhantes é, agora, o puro regresso do tempo num mesmo lugar, a repetição de uma série de gestos. A passagem do nomadismo pastoril à agricultura sedentária é o fim da liberdade ociosa e sem conteúdo, o princípio do labor. O modo de produção agrário em geral, dominado pelo ritmo das estações, é a base do tempo cíclico plena- mente constituído. A eternidade é-lhe interior: é aqui em baixo o regresso do mesmo. O mito é a construção unitária do pensamento, que garante toda a ordem cósmica em volta da ordem que esta sociedade já realizou, de facto, dentro das suas fronteiras.

A Sociedade do Espectáculo

Guy Debord

125
O homem, «o ser negativo que é unicamente na medida em que suprime o Ser», é idêntico ao tempo. A apropriação pelo homem da sua própria natureza é, de igual modo, o apoderar-se do desenvolvimento do universo. «A própria história é uma parte real da história natural, da transformação da natureza em homem» (Marx). Inversamente, esta «história natural» não tem outra existência efectiva senão através do processo de uma história humana, da única parte que reencontra este todo histórico, como o telescópio moderno cujo alcance recupera no tempo a fuga das nebulosas na periferia do universo. A história existiu sempre, mas não sempre sob a sua forma histórica. A temporalização do homem, tal como ela se efectua pela mediação de uma sociedade, é igual a uma humanização do tempo. O movimento inconsciente do tempo manifesta-se e torna-se verdadeiro na consciência histórica.

 

126
O movimento propriamente histórico, embora ainda escondido, começa na lenta e insensível formação da «natureza real do homem», esta «natureza que nasce na história humana — no acto gerador da sociedade humana —», mas a sociedade que então dominou uma técnica e uma linguagem, se é já o produto da sua própria história, não tem consciência senão de um presente perpétuo. Todo o conhecimento, limitado à memória dos mais velhos, é sempre aí levado pelos vivos. Nem a morte nem a procriação são compreendidas como uma lei do tempo. O tempo permanece imóvel como um espaço fechado. Quando uma sociedade mais complexa acaba por tomar consciência do tempo, o seu trabalho é bem mais o de negar, porque ela vê no tempo não o que passa, mas o que regressa. A sociedade estática organiza o tempo segundo a sua experiência imediata da natureza, sob o modelo do tempo cíclico.

 

127
O tempo cíclico é já dominante na experiência dos povos nómadas, porque são as mesmas condições que se reencontram perante eles a cada momento da sua passagem: Hegel nota que «a errância dos nómadas é somente formal, porque está limitada a espaços uniformes». A sociedade, que ao fixar-se localmente dá ao espaço um conteúdo pela ordenação dos lugares individualizados, encontra-se por isso mesmo encerrada no interior desta localização. O regresso temporal a lugares semelhantes é, agora, o puro regresso do tempo num mesmo lugar, a repetição de uma série de gestos. A passagem do nomadismo pastoril à agricultura sedentária é o fim da liberdade ociosa e sem conteúdo, o princípio do labor. O modo de produção agrário em geral, dominado pelo ritmo das estações, é a base do tempo cíclico plena- mente constituído. A eternidade é-lhe interior: é aqui em baixo o regresso do mesmo. O mito é a construção unitária do pensamento, que garante toda a ordem cósmica em volta da ordem que esta sociedade já realizou, de facto, dentro das suas fronteiras.

 

128
A apropriação social do tempo, a produção do homem pelo trabalho humano, desenvolvem-se numa sociedade dividida em classes. O poder que se constituiu sobre a penúria da sociedade do tempo cíclico, a classe, que organiza este trabalho social e se apropria da mais-valia limitada, apropria-se igualmente da mais-valia temporal da sua organização do tempo social: ela possui só para si o tempo irreversível do vivo. A única riqueza que pode existir concentrada no sector do poder, para ser materialmente dispendida em festa sumptuária, encontra-se também despendida aí enquanto delapidação de um tempo histórico da superfície da sociedade. Os proprietários da mais-valia histórica detêm o conhecimento e o gozo dos acontecimentos vividos. Este tempo, separado da organização colectiva do tempo que predomina com a produção repetitiva da base da vida social, corre acima da sua própria comunidade estática. É o tempo da aventura e da guerra, em que os senhores da sociedade cíclica percorrem a sua história pessoal; e é igualmente o tempo que aparece no choque das comunidades estranhas, a alteração da ordem imutável da sociedade. A história sobrevém, pois, perante os homens como um factor estranho, como aquilo que eles não quiseram e do qual se julgavam abrigados. Mas por este rodeio regressa também a inquietação negativa do humano que tinha estado na própria origem de todo o desenvolvimento que adormecera.

 

129
O tempo cíclico é, em si mesmo, o tempo sem conflito. Mas nesta infância do tempo o conflito está instalado: a história luta, antes do mais, para ser a história na actividade prática dos Senhores. Esta história cria superficialmente o irreversível; o seu movimento constitui o próprio tempo que ela esgota, no interior do tempo inesgotável da sociedade cíclica.

 

130
As «sociedades frias» são aquelas que reduziram ao extremo a sua parte de história; que mantiveram num equilíbrio constante a sua oposição ao meio ambiente natural e humano, e as suas oposições internas. Se a extrema diversidade das instituições estabelecidas para este fim testemunha a plasticidade da autocriação da natureza humana, este testemunho não aparece evidentemente senão para o observador exterior, para o etnólogo vindo do tempo histórico. Em cada uma 107 destas sociedades, uma estruturação definitiva excluiu a mudança. O conformismo absoluto das práticas sociais existentes, às quais se encontram para sempre identificadas todas as possibilidades humanas, já não tem outro limite exterior senão o receio de tornar a cair na animalidade sem forma. Aqui, para continuar no humano, os homens devem permanecer os mesmos.

 

131
O nascimento do poder político, que parece estar em relação com as últimas grandes revoluções da técnica, como a fundição do ferro, no limiar de um período que já não conhecerá perturbações em profundidade até à aparição da indústria, é também o momento que começa a dissolver os laços da consanguinidade. Desde então, a sucessão das gerações sai da esfera do puro cíclico natural para se tornar acontecimento orientado, sucessão de poderes. O tempo irreversível é o tempo daquele que reina; e as dinastias são a sua primeira medida. A escrita é a sua arma. Na escrita, a linguagem atinge a sua plena realidade, independente da mediação entre consciências. Mas esta independência é idêntica à independência geral do poder separado, como mediação que constitui a sociedade. Com a escrita aparece uma consciência que já não é trazida e transmitida na relação imediata dos viventes: uma memória impessoal, que é a da administração da sociedade. «Os escritos são os pensamentos do Estado; os arquivos a Sua memória» (Novalis).

DEBORD, Guy. [1967] The Society of Spectacle, transl. Donald Nicholson-Smith, Zone Books, 2006, pp. 92-96

EN

The Society of Spectacle

Guy Debord

125
Man — that "negative being who is solely to the extent that he abolishes being" — is one with time.
Man's appropriation of his own nature is at the same time the apprehension of the unfolding of the universe. "History itself," says Marx, "is a real part of natural history, and of nature's becoming man."
Conversely, the "natural history" in question exists effectively only through the process of a human history, through the development of the only agency capable of discovering this historical whole; one is reminded of a modern telescope, whose range enables it to track the retreat of nebulae in time toward the edge of the universe. History has always existed, but not always in its historical form. The temporalization of man, as effected through the mediation of a society, is equivalent to a humanization of time. The unconscious movement of time becomes manifest and true in historical consciousness.

 

126
The movement of history properly so called (though still hidden) begins with the slow and imperceptible emergence of "the true nature of man," of that "nature which was born of human history — of the procreative act that gave rise to human society"; but society, even when it had mastered a technology and a language, and even though by then it was already the product of its own history, remained conscious only of a perpetual present. All knowledge, which was in any case limited by the memory of society's oldest members, was always borne by the living. Neither death nor reproduction were understood as governed by time. Time was motionless — a sort of enclosed space. When a more complex society did finally attain a consciousness of time, its reaction was to deny rather than embrace it, for it viewed time not as something passing, but as something returning. This was a static type of society that organized time, true to its immediate experience of nature, on a cyclical model.

 

127
Cyclical time was already dominant in the experience of nomadic peoples, who confronted the same conditions at each moment of their roaming; as Hegel notes, "the wandering of nomads is a merely formal one, because it is limited to uniform spaces." Once a society became fixed in a locality, giving space content through the individualized development of specific areas, it found itself enclosed thereby within the location in question. A timebound return to similar places thus gave way to the pure return of time in a single place, the repetition of a set of gestures. The shift from pastoralism to settled agriculture marked the end of an idle and contentless freedom, and the beginning of labor.
The agrarian mode of production in general, governed by the rhythm of the seasons, was the basis of cyclical time in its fullest development. Eternity, as the return of the same here below, was internal to this time. Myth was the unified mental construct whose job it was to make sure that the whole cosmic order confirmed the order that this society had in fact already set up within its own frontiers.

 

128
The social appropriation of time and the production of man by means of human labor were developments that awaited the advent of a society divided into classes. The power that built itself up on the basis of the penury of the society of cyclical time — the power, in other words, of the class which organized social labor therein and appropriated the limited surplus value to be extracted, also appropriated the temporal surplus value that resulted from its organization of social time; this class thus had sole possession of the irreversible time of the living. The only wealth that could exist in concentrated form in the sphere of power, there to be expended on extravagance and festivity, was also expended in the form of the squandering of a historical time at society's surface. The owners of this historical surplus value were the masters of the knowledge and enjoyment of directly experienced events. Separated off from the collective organization of time that predominated as a function of the repetitive form of production which was the basis of social life, historical time flowed independently above its own, static, community. This was the time of adventure, of war, the time in which the lords of cyclical society pursued their personal histories; the time too that emerged in clashes between communities foreign to one another — perturbations in society's unchanging order.
For ordinary men, therefore, history sprang forth as an alien factor, as something they had not sought and against whose occurrence they had thought themselves secure. Yet this turning point also made possible the return of that negative human restlessness, which had been at the origin of the whole (temporarily arrested) development.

 

129
In its essence, cyclical time was a time without conflict. Yet even in this infancy of time, conflict was present: at first, history struggled to become history through the practical activity of the masters. At a superficial level this history created irreversibility; its movement constituted the very time that it used up within the inexhaustible time of cyclical society.

 

130
So called cold societies are societies that successfully slowed their participation in history down to the minimum, and maintained their conflicts with the natural and human environments, as well as their internal conflicts, in constant equilibrium. Although the vast diversity of institutions set up for this purpose bears eloquent testimony to the plasticity of human nature's self creation, this testimony is of course only accessible to an outside observer, to an anthropologist looking back from within historical time. In each of these societies a definitive organizational structure ruled out change. The absolute conformity of their social practices, with which all human possibilities were exclusively and permanently identified, had no external limits except for the fear of falling into a formless animal condition. So, here, in order to remain human, men had to remain the same.

 

131
The emergence of political power, seemingly associated with the last great technical revolutions, such as iron smelting, which occurred at the threshold of a period that was to experience no further major upheavals until the rise of modern industry, also coincided with the first signs of the dissolution of the bonds of kinship. From this moment on, the succession of the generations left the natural realm of the purely cyclical and became a purposeful succession of events, a mechanism for the transmission of power. Irreversible time was the prerogative of whoever ruled, and the prime yardstick of rulership lay in dynastic succession. The ruler's chief weapon was the written word, which now attained its full autonomous reality as mediation between consciousnesses. This independence, however, was indistinguishable from the general independence of a separate power as the mediation whereby society was constituted. With writing came a consciousness no longer conveyed and transmitted solely within the immediate relationships of the living an impersonal memory that was the memory of the administration of society. "Writings are the thoughts of the State," said Novalis, "and archives are its memory."

DEBORD, Guy. Ne Travaillez Jamais!, postal ilustrado, com fotografia de mural pintado por Guy Debord na Rue du Seine, em 1952/ill. postcard featuring a colorized photograph of a graffito, scrawled on a wall on the Rue de Seine in Paris, likely in 1952, for which Debord claims ownership, 15 x10.5 cm., design Louis Buffier, ca. 1965-66
DEBORD, Guy. Ne Travaillez Jamais!, postal ilustrado, com fotografia de mural pintado por Guy Debord na Rue du Seine, em 1952/ill. postcard featuring a colorized photograph of a graffito, scrawled on a wall on the Rue de Seine in Paris, likely in 1952, for which Debord claims ownership, 15 x10.5 cm., design Louis Buffier, ca. 1965-66
DEBORD, Guy. Ne Travaillez Jamais!, postal ilustrado, com fotografia de mural pintado por Guy Debord na Rue du Seine, em 1952/ill. postcard featuring a colorized photograph of a graffito, scrawled on a wall on the Rue de Seine in Paris, likely in 1952, for which Debord claims ownership, 15 x10.5 cm., design Louis Buffier, ca. 1965-66
DEBORD, Guy. Ne Travaillez Jamais!, postal ilustrado, com fotografia de mural pintado por Guy Debord na Rue du Seine, em 1952/ill. postcard featuring a colorized photograph of a graffito, scrawled on a wall on the Rue de Seine in Paris, likely in 1952, for which Debord claims ownership, 15 x10.5 cm., design Louis Buffier, ca. 1965-66
DEFOE, Daniel. [1722] A Journal of the Plague Year. Penguin Books Ltd, 2003. pp. 6-19  

It was about the beginning of September, 1664, that I, among the rest of my neighbours, heard in ordinary discourse that the plague was returned again in Holland; for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in the year 1663, whither, they say, it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant, among some goods which were brought home by their Turkey fleet; others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus. It mattered not from whence it came; but all agreed it was come into Holland again.

A Journal of the Plague Year

A Journal of the Plague Year

Daniel Defoe

It was about the beginning of September, 1664, that I, among the rest of my neighbours, heard in ordinary discourse that the plague was returned again in Holland; for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in the year 1663, whither, they say, it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant, among some goods which were brought home by their Turkey fleet; others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus. It mattered not from whence it came; but all agreed it was come into Holland again.
We had no such thing as printed newspapers in those days to spread rumours and reports of things, and to improve them by the invention of men, as I have lived to see practised since. But such things as these were gathered from the letters of merchants and others who corresponded abroad, and from them was handed about by word of mouth only; so that things did not spread instantly over the whole nation, as they do now. But it seems that the Government had a true account of it, and several councils were held about ways to prevent its coming over; but all was kept very private. Hence it was that this rumour died off again, and people began to forget it as a thing we were very little concerned in, and that we hoped was not true; till the latter end of November or the beginning of December 1664 when two men, said to be Frenchmen, died of the plague in Long Acre, or rather at the upper end of Drury Lane. The family they were in endeavoured to conceal it as much as possible, but as it had gotten some vent in the discourse of the neighbourhood, the Secretaries of State got knowledge of it; and concerning themselves to inquire about it, in order to be certain of the truth, two physicians and a surgeon were ordered to go to the house and make inspection. This they did; and finding evident tokens of the sickness upon both the bodies that were dead, they gave their opinions publicly that they died of the plague.
[...]
This was the beginning of May, yet the weather was temperate, variable, and cool enough, and people had still some hopes. That which encouraged them was that the city was healthy: the whole ninety-seven parishes buried but fifty-four, and we began to hope that, as it was chiefly among the people at that end of the town, it might go no farther; and the rather, because the next week, which was from the 9th of May to the 16th, there died but three, of which not one within the whole city or liberties; and St Andrew’s buried but fifteen, which was very low. ’Tis true St Giles’s buried two-and-thirty, but still, as there was but one of the plague, people began to be easy. The whole bill also was very low, for the week before the bill was but 347, and the week above mentioned but 343. We continued in these hopes for a few days, but it was but for a few, for the people were no more to be deceived thus; they searched the houses and found that the plague was really spread every way, and that many died of it every day. So that now all our extenuations abated, and it was no more to be concealed; nay, it quickly appeared that the infection had spread itself beyond all hopes of abatement. That in the parish of St Giles it was gotten into several streets, and several families lay all sick together; and, accordingly, in the weekly bill for the next week the thing began to show itself. There was indeed but fourteen set down of the plague, but this was all knavery and collusion, for in St Giles’s parish they buried forty in all, whereof it was certain most of them died of the plague, though they were set down of other distempers; and though the number of all the burials were not increased above thirty-two, and the whole bill being but 385, yet there was fourteen of the spotted-fever, as well as fourteen of the plague; and we took it for granted upon the whole that there were fifty died that week of the plague.
The next bill was from the 23rd of May to the 30th, when the number of the plague was seventeen. But the burials in St Giles’s were fifty-three—a frightful number!—of whom they set down but nine of the plague; but on an examination more strictly by the justices of peace, and at the Lord Mayor’s request, it was found there were twenty more who were really dead of the plague in that parish, but had been set down of the spotted-fever or other distempers, besides others concealed.
But those were trifling things to what followed immediately after; for now the weather set in hot, and from the first week in June the infection spread in a dreadful manner, and the bills rose high; the articles of the fever, spotted-fever, and teeth began to swell; for all that could conceal their distempers did it, to prevent their neighbours shunning and refusing to converse with them, and also to prevent authority shutting up their houses; which, though it was not yet practised, yet was threatened, and people were extremely terrified at the thoughts of it.

The second week in June, the parish of St Giles, where still the weight of the infection lay, buried 120, whereof though the bills said but sixty-eight of the plague, everybody said there had been 100 at least, calculating it from the usual number of funerals in that parish, as above.
Till this week the city continued free, there having never any died, except that one Frenchman whom I mentioned before, within the whole ninety-seven parishes. Now there died four within the city, one in Wood Street, one in Fenchurch Street, and two in Crooked Lane. Southwark was entirely free, having not one yet died on that side of the water.

I lived without Aldgate, about midway between Aldgate Church and Whitechappel Bars, on the left hand or north side of the street; and as the distemper had not reached to that side of the city, our neighbourhood continued very easy. But at the other end of the town their consternation was very great: and the richer sort of people, especially the nobility and gentry from the west part of the city, thronged out of town with their families and servants in an unusual manner; and this was more particularly seen in Whitechappel; that is to say, the Broad Street where I lived; indeed, nothing was to be seen but waggons and carts, with goodswomen, servants, children, &c.; coaches filled with people of the better sort and horsemen attending them, and all hurrying away; then empty waggons and carts appeared, and spare horses with servants, who, it was apparent, were returning or sent from the countries to fetch more people; besides innumerable numbers of men on horseback, some alone, others with servants, and, generally speaking, all loaded with baggage and fitted out for travelling, as anyone might perceive by their appearance.
This was a very terrible and melancholy thing to see, and as it was a sight which I could not but look on from morning to night (for indeed there was nothing else of moment to be seen), it filled me with very serious thoughts of the misery that was coming upon the city, and the unhappy condition of those that would be left in it.
This hurry of the people was such for some weeks that there was no getting at the Lord Mayor’s door without exceeding difficulty; there were such pressing and crowding there to get passes and certificates of health for such as travelled abroad, for without these there was no being admitted to pass through the towns upon the road, or to lodge in any inn. Now, as there had none died in the city for all this time, my LordMayor gave certificates of health without any difficulty to all those who lived in the ninety-seven parishes, and to those within the liberties too for a while.
This hurry, I say, continued some weeks, that is to say, all the month of May and June, and the more because it was rumoured that an order of the Government was to be issued out to place turnpikes and barriers on the road to prevent people travelling, and that the towns on the road would not suffer people from London to pass for fear of bringing the infection along with them, though neither of these rumours had any foundation but in the imagination, especially at-first.
I now began to consider seriously with myself concerning my own case, and how I should dispose of myself; that is to say, whether I should resolve to stay in London or shut up my house and flee, as many of my neighbours did. I have set this particular down so fully, because I know not but it may be of moment to those who come after me, if they come to be brought to the same distress, and to the same manner of making their choice; and therefore I desire this account may pass with them rather for a direction to themselves to act by than a history of my actings, seeing it may not be of one farthing value to them to note what became of me.
I had two important things before me: the one was the carrying on my business and shop, which was considerable, and in which was embarked all my effects in the world; and the other was the preservation of my life in so dismal a calamity as I saw apparently was coming upon the whole city, and which, however great it was, my fears perhaps, as well as other people’s, represented to be much greater than it could be.
The first consideration was of great moment to me; my trade was a saddler, and as my dealings were chiefly not by a shop or chance trade, but among the merchants trading to the English colonies in America, so my effects lay very much in the hands of such. I was a single man, ’tis true, but I had a family of servants whom I kept at my business; had a house, shop, and warehouses filled with goods; and, in short, to leave them all as things in such a case must be left (that is to say, without any overseer or person fit to be trusted with them), had been to hazard the loss not only of my trade, but of my goods, and indeed of all I had in the world.
I had an elder brother at the same time in London, and not many years before come over from Portugal: and advising with him, his answer was in three words, the same that was given in another case quite different, viz., ‘Master, save thyself.’ In a word, he was for my retiring into the country, as he resolved to do himself with his family; telling me what he had, it seems, heard abroad, that the best preparation for the plague was to run away from it. As to my argument of losing my trade, my goods, or debts, he quite confuted me. He told me the same thing which I argued for my staying, viz., that I would trust God with my safety and health, was the strongest repulse to my pretensions of losing my trade and my goods; ‘for,’ says he, ‘is it not as reasonable that you should trust God with the chance or risk of losing your trade, as that you should stay in so eminent a point of danger, and trust Him with your life?”

DELLER, Jeremy. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Southbank Centre, 2013. pp.32-33
DELLER, Jeremy. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Southbank Centre, 2013. pp.32-33
DELLER, Jeremy. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Southbank Centre, 2013. pp.32-33
DELLER, Jeremy. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, Southbank Centre, 2013. pp.32-33
DERRIDA, Jacques. The Beast & the Sovereign, volume II, The University of Chicago Press, terceira sessão/third session, 22 Janeiro/January 2003, pp.83-85 

But my ill Fate push’d me on now with an Obstinacy that nothing could resist; and tho’ I had several times loud Calls from my Reason and my more composed Judgment to go home, yet I had no Power to do it. I know not what to call this, nor will I urge, that it is a secret over-ruling Decree that hurries us on to be the Instruments of our own Destruction, even tho’ it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our Eyes open. Certainly nothing but some such decreed unavoidable Misery attending, and which it was impossible for me to escape, could have push’d me forward against the calm Reasonings and Perswasions of my most retired Thoughts, and against two such visible Instructions as I had met with in my first Attempt.

The Beast & the Sovereign, volume II

Jacques Derrida

This is the motif of self-destruction that I also call, generalizing and formalizing its use, autoimmune, autoimmunity consisting for a living body in itself destroying, in enigmatic fashion, its own immunitary defenses, in auto-affecting itself, then, in an irrepressibly mechanical and apparently spontaneous, automatic, fashion, with an ill which comes to destroy what is supposed to protect against ill and safe-guard immunity. Well, Robinson is often invaded by the feeling that a self- destructive power is mechanically, automatically, of itself, at work within him. The word destruction appears very early in the book, first in the mouth of his mother who had warned him against his own Destruction; then, destruction as self-destruction, as destruction of the self, is the object, also very early, of a whole paragraph, one of the points of interest of which is the following: Robinson Crusoe does not believe that this drive, this self-destructive compulsion and this neurosis of destiny (this is not a Freudian vocabulary that I am imposing upon him, but almost his own words) are a thing of consciousness: consciousness, reason and judgment are here impotent, incapable of resisting this self-destructive compulsion that works on its own, mechanically, and the vicissitudes of these drives which are none other than the unfortunate destiny of Robinson Crusoe (my ill Fate). I quote: 

But my ill Fate push’d me on now with an Obstinacy that nothing could resist; and tho’ I had several times loud Calls from my Reason and my more composed Judgment to go home, yet I had no Power to do it. I know not what to call this, nor will I urge, that it is a secret over-ruling Decree that hurries us on to be the Instruments of our own Destruction, even tho’ it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our Eyes open. Certainly nothing but some such decreed unavoidable Misery attending, and which it was im-possible for me to escape, could have push’d me forward against the calm Reasonings and Perswasions of my most retired Thoughts, and against two such visible Instructions as I had met with in my first Attempt.

So this is indeed a drive to self-destruction, which disobeys reason and even disobeys what is most intimate inside him, in the inner depths of his thought. There is here an automatic force that is more intimate to him than himself and that acts repetitively (to the rhythm of a destiny) and mechanically. Alone, all alone, by itself. Which also explains that this allusion to the self-destructive drive should multiply itself of itself. It would be easy to show that this reference to a sort of logic of automatic self-destruction organizes the whole of Robinson’s discourse, but to save time I shall mention only a few passages in which the word “self-destruction” is explicitly and literally present: for example a little further on, this self-destructive destiny neurosis is described as absolutely originary, innate, congenital: But I that was born to be my own Destroyer, could no more resist the Offer than I could restrain my first rambling Designs, when my Father’s good Counsel was lost upon me. The offer in question is none other than that of participating in the slave trade on the coast of Guinea, and you see that giving in here to the self-destructive compulsion, being his own Destroyer, is also the compulsion to disobey the father or rather to have the father’s law founder [échouer]. And if there is remorse, repentance, and confession in this whole autobiographical odyssey, this does indeed concern the exposure to failure of the law of the father. And therefore of the sovereign. 

DEWEY, John. The Later Works of John Dewey, Volume 2, 1925 - 1953: 1925-1927, Essays, Reviews, Miscellany, and The Public and Its Problems, Southern Illinois University Press, 2009. pp. 321-324  

Conditions have changed, but every aspect of life, from religion and education to property and trade, shows that nothing approaching a transformation has taken place in ideas and ideals.

The Mania for Motion and Speed

John Dewey

The power of “bread and the circus” to divert attention from public matters is an old story. But now the industrial conditions which have enlarged, complicated and multiplied public interests have also multiplied and intensified formidable rivals to them. In countries where political life has been most successfully conducted in the past, there was a class specially set aside, as it were, who made political affairs their special business. Aristotle could not conceive a body of citizens competent to carry on politics consisting of others than those who had leisure, that is, of those who were relieved from all other preoccupations, especially that of making a livelihood. Political life, till recent times, bore out his belief. Those who took an active part in politics were “gentlemen,” persons who had had property and money long enough, and enough of it, so that its further pursuit was vulgar and beneath their station. To-day, so great and powerful is the sweep of the industrial current, the person of leisure is usually an idle person. Persons have their own business to attend to, and “business” has its own precise and specialized meaning. Politics thus tends to become just another “business”: the special concern of bosses and the managers of the machine.
The increase in the number, variety and cheapness of amusements represents a powerful diversion from political concern. The members of an inchoate public have too many ways of enjoyment, as well as of work, to give much thought to organization into an efective public. Man is a consuming and sportive animal as well as a political one. What is significant is that access to means of amusement has been rendered easy and cheap beyond anything known in the past. The present era of “prosperity” may not be enduring. But the movie, radio, cheap reading matter and motor car with all they stand for have come to stay. That they did not originate in deliberate desire to divert attention from political interests does not lessen their effectiveness in that direction. The political elements in the constitution of the human being, those having to do with citizenship, are crowded to one side. In most circles it is hard work to sustain conversation on a political theme; and once initiated, it is quickly dismissed with a yawn. Let there be introduced the topic of the mechanism and accomplishment of various makes of motor cars or the respective merits of actresses, and the dialogue goes on at a lively pace. The thing to be remembered is that this cheapened and multiplied access to amusement is the product of the machine age, intensified by the business tradition which causes provision of means for an enjoyable passing of time to be one of the most profitable of occupations. 
One phase of the workings of a technological age, with its unprecedented command of natural energies, while it is implied in what has been said, needs explicit attention. The older publics, in being local communities, largely homogeneous with one another, were also, as the phrase goes, static. They changed, of course, but barring war, catastrophe and great migrations, the modifications were gradual. They proceeded slowly and were largely 
unperceived by those undergoing them. The newer forces have created mobile and fluctuating associational forms. The common complaints of the disintegration of family life may be placed in evidence. The movement from rural to urban assemblies is also the result and proof of this mobility. Nothing stays long put, not even the associations by which business and industry are carried on. The mania for motion and speed is a symptom of the restless instability of social life, and it operates to intensify the causes from which it springs. Steel replaces wood and masonry for buildings; ferro-concrete modifies steel, and some invention may work a further revolution. Muscle Shoals was acquired to produce nitrogen, and new methods have already made antiquated the supposed need of great accumulation of water power. Any selected illustration suffers because of the heterogeneous mass of cases to select from. How can a public be organized, we may ask, when literally it does not stay in place? Only deep issues or those which can be made to appear such can find a common denominator among all the shifting and unstable relationships. Attachment is a very different function of life from affection. Affections will continue as long as the heart beats. But attachment requires something more than organic causes. The very things which stimulate and intensify affections may undermine attachments. For these are bred in tranquil stability; they are nourished in constant relationships. Acceleration of mobility disturbs them at their root. And without abiding attachments associations are too shifting and shaken to permit a public readily to locate and identify itself. 
The new era of human relationships in which we live is one marked by mass production for remote markets, by cable and telephone, by cheap printing, by railway and steam navigation. Only geographically did Columbus discover a new world. The actual new world has been generated in the last hundred years. Steam and electricity have done more to alter the conditions under which men associate together than all the agencies which affected human relationships before our time. There are those who lay the blame for all the evils of our lives on steam, electricity and machinery. It is always convenient to have a devil as well as a savior to bear the responsibilities of humanity. In reality, the trouble springs rather from the ideas and absence of ideas in connection with which technological factors operate. Mental and moral beliefs and ideals change more slowly than outward conditions. If the ideals associated with the higher life of our cultural past have been impaired, the fault is primarily with them. Ideals and standards formed without regard to the means by which they are to be achieved and incarnated in flesh are bound to be thin and wavering. Since the aims, desires and purposes created by a machine age do not connect with tradition, there are two sets of rival ideals, and those which have actual instrumentalities at their disposal have the advantage. Because the two are rivals and because the older ones retain their glamor and sentimental prestige in literature and religion, the newer ones are perforce harsh and narrow. For the older symbols of ideal life still engage thought and command loyalty. Conditions have changed, but every aspect of life, from religion and education to property and trade, shows that nothing approaching a transformation has taken place in ideas and ideals. Symbols control sentiment and thought, and the new age has no symbols consonant with its activities. Intellectual instrumentalities for the formation of an organized public are more inadequate than its overt means. The ties which hold men together in action are numerous, tough and subtle. But they are invisible and intangible. We have the physical tools of communication as never before. The thoughts and aspirations congruous with them are not communicated, and hence are not common. Without such communication the public will remain shadowy and formless, seeking spasmodically for itself, but seizing and holding its shadow rather than its substance. 

EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. [1980–1987] Negativ Nein, Live at Tempodrom, Berlin, 26 June 1987, in Kollaps, 04:37 mins., Zickzack, 1988
EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN. [1980–1987] Negativ Nein, Live at Tempodrom, Berlin, 26 June 1987, in Kollaps, 04:37 mins., Zickzack, 1988
DUCHAMP, Marcel; HAMILTON, Richard. [1959] An Interview With Richard Hamilton (London, 1959), in The Creative Act, Sub Rosa, 4:25 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2000
DUCHAMP, Marcel; HAMILTON, Richard. [1959] An Interview With Richard Hamilton (London, 1959), in The Creative Act, Sub Rosa, 4:25 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2000
DU TERTRE, Jean Baptiste. Sugar Works, French West Indies, 17th cent., in  Histoire Générale des Antilles (1667). Pierre Pomet, A complete history of drugs. Written in French by monsieur Pomet... (London, 1748, 4th ed.), facing p. 57
DU TERTRE, Jean Baptiste. Sugar Works, French West Indies, 17th cent., in  Histoire Générale des Antilles (1667). Pierre Pomet, A complete history of drugs. Written in French by monsieur Pomet... (London, 1748, 4th ed.), facing p. 57
DU TERTRE, Jean Baptiste. Sugar Works, French West Indies, 17th cent., in  Histoire Générale des Antilles (1667). Pierre Pomet, A complete history of drugs. Written in French by monsieur Pomet... (London, 1748, 4th ed.), facing p. 57
DU TERTRE, Jean Baptiste. Sugar Works, French West Indies, 17th cent., in  Histoire Générale des Antilles (1667). Pierre Pomet, A complete history of drugs. Written in French by monsieur Pomet... (London, 1748, 4th ed.), facing p. 57
EATON, Manford L. Bio Music, Something Else Press, 1974. p.6

Warning: Excessive biological feedback (either positive or negative) can be quite dangerous, and limits must be built into any biological feedback system. In completely electronic feedback networks, maximum negative feedback results in a circuit which is in effect doing nothing. In maximum positive feedback networks, the result is a circuitry which is destroyed by inputs which are much too large for it. In the case of biological feedback, however, excessive negative feedback to vital body functions can cause permanent damage

Bio Music

Manford L. Eaton 

UNDERSTANDING THE DANGERS AND AVOIDING THEM 

If we have a signal source of any type (electrical, mechanical, physical, etc.), and we amplify it, we can gain control by re-applying all or a part of it to the original signal source. If the signal we re-apply to the original signal source is inverted with respect to the input signal, we will decrease the amplitude of the input (negative feedback). If we feed back enough inverted signal to the input, the original signal will be almost completely attenuated. However, it can never be completely attenuated because we will eventually arrive at the point when the original signal will not have sufficient amplitude to produce an effective controlling feedback. Literally, the amplifier, in order to overcome this limitation, would have to be capable of infinite amplification. 

If the feedback signal has the same polarity as the original, it will augment the original (positive feedback). If we feed back enough of the amplified non-inverted output, the amplifier will become saturated; that is, it will no longer be possible for​ the amplifier to respond to additional increase in signal input.

Warning: Excessive biological feedback (either positive or negative) can be quite dangerous, and limits must be built into any biological feedback system. In completely electronic feedback networks, maximum negative feedback results in a circuit which is in effect doing nothing. In maximum positive feedback networks, the result is a circuitry which is destroyed by inputs which are much too large for it. In the case of biological feedback, however, excessive negative feedback to vital body functions can cause permanent damage or death by halting that function. Excessive positive feedback can also cause permanent damage or death by driving the body function to a point where it destroys itself. For example, negative feedback to the heart can cause it to stop. Positive feedback can cause palpitations and irregularities which themselves can be damaging and will result in inefficient heart action equivalent in effect to heart stoppage. 

We can amplify biological potentials and feed them back to control the physiological parameter, which is the source of the potentials as described above. We can, in addition to this, amplify biological potentials from one physiological source and use it to modify the biological signals from another physiological source. For example, we can amplify the electrocardiogram and use these signals to provide control of flash lamps in various positions, thus controlling eye movement. We can use biological potentials as control signals to generate audio and video signals which will be presented to the sensory system. Biological signals can be fed into voltage control inputs of any conventional electronic music equipment; but, more sophisticated systems utilize the biological potentials as control signals for pulse height, series- sound synthesis systems, thus providing control of individual pulse heights and individual pulse widths. By doing this, it is possible to generate sound structures of any specified harmonic content. Biological signals can also be used to drive conventional color organs. Again, more sophisticated systems require the possibility of parallel selection of color, form, verbal, graphic, and symbolic information to be displayed on a screen facing the subject. The information is presented both at the conscious level (i.e., intellectually) and subliminally, as the situation requires.

ELLISON, Ralph. [1952] Invisible Man, Vintage International, 1995. pp. 142-143

My hole is warm and full of light

Invisible man

Ralph Ellison

Several years ago (before I discovered the advantage of being invisible) I went through the routine process of buying service and paying their outrageous rates. But no more. I gave up all that, along with my apartment, and my old way of life: That way based upon the fallacious assumption that I, like other men, was visible. Now, aware of my invisibility, I live rent-free in a building rented strictly to whites, in a section of the basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century, which I discovered when I was trying to escape in the night from Ras the Destroyer. But that's getting too far ahead of the story, almost to the end, although the end is in the beginning and lies far ahead.
The point now is that I found a home — or a hole in the ground, as you will. Now don't jump to the conclusion that because I call my home a "hole" it is damp and cold like a grave; there are cold holes and warm holes. Mine is a warm hole. And remember, a bear retires to his hole for the winter and lives until spring; then he comes strolling out like the Easter chick breaking from its shell. I say all this to assure you that it is incorrect to assume that, because I'm invisible and live in a hole, I am dead. I am neither dead nor in a state of suspended animation. Call me Jack-the-Bear, for I am in a state of hibernation.
My hole is warm and full of light. Yes, full of light. I doubt if there is a brighter spot in all New York than this hole of mine, and I do not exclude Broadway. Or the Empire State Building on a photographer's dream night. But that is taking advantage of you. Those two spots are among the darkest of our whole civilization — pardon me, our whole culture (an important distinction, I've heard) — which might sound like a hoax, or a contradiction, but that (by contradiction, I mean) is how the world moves: Not like an arrow, but a boomerang. (Beware of those who speak of the spiral of history; they are preparing a boomerang. Keep a steel helmet handy.) I know; I have been boomeranged across my head so much that I now can see the darkness of lightness. And I love light. Perhaps you'll think it strange that an invisible man should need light, desire light, love light. But maybe it is exactly because I am invisible. Light confirms my reality, gives birth to my form. A beautiful girl once told me of a recurring nightmare in which she lay in the center of a large dark room and felt her face expand until it filled the whole room, becoming a formless mass while her eyes ran in bilious jelly up the chimney. And so it is with me.

A C.G.T., os chefes bolchevistas e o movimento de 18 de Janeiro, in A Batalha, Ano XV, Serie III, nº1 (primeira edição clandestina), Abril 1934. p. 2

No chamado «29 de Fevereiro», os bolchevistas tiveram um exemplo frisante...
Fizeram uma revolução de papeis.
De facto nunca se escreveu tanto.

A C.G.T., os chefes bolchevistas e o movimento de 18 de Janeiro

Os processos de actuação dos chefes bolchevistas são conhecidos: «todos os meios são bons para alcançarem os fins»... Desde a mentira á confusão, desde a intriga á calunia.

Temos á nossa frente um Boletim assignado pelo Secretariado do Partido Comunista. É por consequëncia um documento oficial. Trata do movimento de 18 de Janeiro. O seu conteudo, não eleva quem o redigiu; revela apenas uma falta de honestidade moral que nunca pode triunfar no seio do proletariado.

A audacia das suas afirmações, o descaramento com que se pretende demonstrar uma grande preparação revolucionaria comunista para o citado movimento, não consegue iludir a propria massa operària, fóra, ou desviada, do ambito destas lutas.

É nestes momentos que os «chefes» bolchevistas pretendem ganhar terreno. Para isso confundem, baralham, sofismam, porque sempre produzirá algum resultado...

Conhecemos, porem, esses processos. Andâmos por cà ha alguns anos e sabemos perfeitamente como a sua acção tem sido condusida. Mas, vamos ao documento em questão. O que diz ele, em resumo? Diz isto:

«O 18 de Janeiro caracterizou-se precisamente pela expressão do desejo das massas, de seguirem as palavras de ordem do Partido Comunista.»

Jà é audacia! Como se, o referido movimento fosse obra sua! Mais ainda, para que se observe até onde vai o arrojo: «Na margem Sul do Tejo, em Almada, Cacilhas, Porto-Brandão, Alfeite, Cova da Piedade a greve foi geral. No Algarve, houve greves e manifestações de massas, sobre tudo em Silves, alguns pontos do Alentejo seguiram, tambem, as palavras de ordem do nosso Partido.»

Querem melhor?

Então, toda a acção desenvolvida pela classe trabalhadora na margem Sul do Tejo não foi orientada pela C.G.T.?1

Que influencia exerce nesses locais, ou melhor, nas respectivas classes, o partido bolchevista?

A organização de Silves não é retintamente cegêtista?

Para que tanta mentira?

Vila Boim, Terrugem, Campo Maior, e outros pontos do Alentejo não agiram sob a influencia da C.G.T.? Que organização tinham lá os bolchevistas?

E Coimbra, não agiu sob a influencia da C.G.T.?

Se é assim que procuram arranjar adeptos, contem connosco para esclarecer o proletariado.

Temos então Marinha Grande. Sim senhor agiu bem e toda a sua acção está dentro da Circular Confidencial que a C.G.T. enviou aos varios pontos do país. Absolutamente dentro dessa Circular.

Em Marinha Grande existiam dois orgãos, que se entenderem para a eclosão do movimento. Aceitando, honestamente, que a influencia bolchevista fosse ali maior do que a cegêtista, pergunta-se: mesmo assim, quem proporcionou á organização da Marinha Grande os elementos materiais para ela poder desenvolver tal raio de acção? E não foram com esses elementos materiais que o proletariado de Marinha Grande poude tomar conta do posto do guarda, fazer a respectiva apreensão de 12 espingardas, munições e uma metralhadora ligeira, e em seguida ficar de posse completamente da vila durante algumas horas?

Repetimos: Quem forneceu esses elementos materiais?

A C.G.T. ou os bolchevistas?

Lérias temos lido muitas; obras é que não as vemos.

Um dia, a historia dirá como agiram os «chefes» comunistas para o movimento de 18 de Janeiro: De longe, por causa da cheia...

E tambem havemos de saber com que elementos materiais contavam; elementos que noutras ocasiões têm sido defendidos por eles com calor.

Teria certa graça até se fossemos descobrir que a maioria desses «chefes» haviam trabalhado no dia do aludido movimento e traido, por consequëncia, a greve e as palavras de ordem do seu partido...

Infelismente o movimento não correspondeu ao que se pretendia. Motivos? Varios. Alguns poderão sofrer a necessaria rectificação, outros ainda por errada mentalidade dalgumas classes e ainda outras por culpa exclusiva dos «chefes» bolchevistas que têm a mania de anunciar os movimentos com tal antecedencia que as autoridades tomam logo posições... Dizem eles: é necessario demonstrar a organização revolucionaria da classe trabalhadora; que de qualquer forma sabe agir.

Ótimo. Nós tambem assim pensâmos, mas o que reconhecemos é que em Portugal isso não é possível, por enquanto. E o exemplo não é de hoje. No chamado «29 de Fevereiro», os bolchevistas tiveram um exemplo frisante... Fizeram uma revolução de papeis.

De facto nunca se escreveu tanto.

Chegou o momento proprio e, nada. Precisamente pelas medidas tomadas pelo governo. Ora, o que nós queriamos que os «chefes» comunistas comprendessem era isso.

Em conjunto, há-de facto organizações revolucionarias que o podem fazer. Por exemplo, em Espanha, a C.N.T.2 Ali sim é que um governo, informado devidamente de que ia estalar uma revolução e tendo a ousadia de afirmar que a sufocaria em «20 minutos», teve de a enfrentar durante duas semanas, sob uma violencia desusada e onde os trabalhadores se bateram como leões.

Em Portugal, é possivel, podermos citar alguns exemplos, isolado, como o da greve de Setembro de 1920 dos ferroviários do Sul e Sueste e alguns dos antigos movimentos da construção civil.

Resta acrescentar que os citados movimentos da organização hespanhola são orientados pela corrente «anarco-sindicalista», que não «passou a fazer parte das velharias do século passado» como o referido boletim diz. Bem pelo contrario...

Quem queria levar o proletariado até á «possivel transformação social», numa obcecação de pasmar, eram os «chefes» bolchevistas. Esses sim, que são homens que aparecem sempre onde a massa se encontra, á frente das suas brigadas de choque! ...

Para se avaliar bem da mentira de tal boletim; para se poder apreciar com serenidade «e bom humor» a sua prosa basta dizer que Setubal, á data da proclamação da greve geral já não possuia, material algum, pois lhe havia sido apreendido dias antes e, por isso, como podia fazer anunciar, com 12 horas de antecedencia, «com o estampido de bombas» a greve em prespectiva?

Não veem os «chefes» bolchevistas que assim caiem no ridiculo?

Não ha o direito de se querer conquistar partidarios com essa forma de proceder.

Depois, se foi a C.G.T., a culpada do fracasso do movimento, porque não puseram os «chefes» bolchevistas, em pé de guerra, toda a sua organização? Porque é que, nos raros pontos da provincia onde a sua influencia é maior, não se observou a acção grevista? Assim é que era: fazer vincular nitidamente a sua organização revolucionaria!

Porque é [que] ainda essa acção se não observou em relação ás classes que em Lisbôa são por si agitadas?

Que fenomeno especial se teria produsido para não englobar, nas mesmas causas, a falta de acção de varias classes, quer as que se orientam bolchevisticamente?

Bolas para tais processos de propaganda.

Assim não vale snrs. «chefes» bolchevistas. Assim, onde está a lealdade?

Se ela existisse, seria possivel afirmarem que «Silves, a margem Sul do Tejo e Marinha Grande, representam a grande jornada do vosso partido? Seria possivel?

A maioria revolucionaria, quer de Silves, como da margem Sul do Tejo, como dos pontos do Alentejo que se manifestaram é cegêtista. E toda a organização operaria consciente o sabe. Só os «bolchevistas» dizem o contrario.

Consequentemente, pois, ainda foi a C.G.T. que influi no maior numero de pontos do país onde a greve se levou a efeito.

Isto é incontestavel. E não podia deixar de ser assim, não só porque é a C.G.T. quem mantem o maior raio de acção revolucionaria, como porque foi de facto ela que trabalhou para o referido movimento com uma persistência digna de toda a nota.

Os «chefes» bolchevistas não conseguem destruir esta verdade, por mais que se esforcem por «empalmarem» o movimento operário, com os processos que atraz se citam.

A C.G.T. continuará organizando o proletariado para novas lutas contra a «legislação-fascista». O que se perdeu na luta passada, reorganizar-se-à, e toda a restante organização entrará em acção no momento propicio, rectificadas as causas que deram lugar a uma acção de massas menos intensa em 18 de Janeiro.

O resto, são cantatas dos «chefes bolchevistas», que não conseguem embalar as massas proletárias.

* com excepção de alguns erros tipográficos óbvios que podiam dificultar a leitura e compreensão, e que foram corrigidos, o texto foi na sua maior parte mantido intocado.

1A Confederação Geral do Trabalho (CGT) foi uma confederação de sindicatos portugueses criada no II Congresso Operário Nacional, realizado em Setembro de 1919, em Coimbra. A partir de 1922 inicia-se a sua afirmação como estrutura anarco-sindicalista. [N.E.]
2 A C.N.T., Confederación Nacional del Trabajo, é uma confederação de sindicatos autónomos anarco-sindicalistas Espanhóis. Fundada em 1910 em Barcelona, faz parte da organização de carácter transnacional Associação Internacional dos Trabalhadores (AIT). [N.E.]

A destruição da Catedral do Cristo Salvador, Moscovo, Dezembro 1931/The destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, December 1931, in Godless Utopia, Fuel Publishing, 2002. p.94
A destruição da Catedral do Cristo Salvador, Moscovo, Dezembro 1931/The destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, December 1931, in Godless Utopia, Fuel Publishing, 2002. p.94
A destruição da Catedral do Cristo Salvador, Moscovo, Dezembro 1931/The destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, December 1931, in Godless Utopia, Fuel Publishing, 2002. p.94
A destruição da Catedral do Cristo Salvador, Moscovo, Dezembro 1931/The destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow, December 1931, in Godless Utopia, Fuel Publishing, 2002. p.94
apresentação em Londres, Trafalgar Square, de recriação à escala 2:3 do Arco do Triunfo de Palmira, destruído pelo ISIS em 2015. Daqui, a réplica deveria ser exposta no Dubai, Nova Iorque, e finalmente instalada em Palmira/unveiling of scaled 2:3 recreation of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph, in London, Trafalgar Square. The original was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. From there, the replica was to be exhibited in Dubai, New York, and to be installed back in Palmyra, fotografia/photo Reuters, 19 Abril/April 2016 
apresentação em Londres, Trafalgar Square, de recriação à escala 2:3 do Arco do Triunfo de Palmira, destruído pelo ISIS em 2015. Daqui, a réplica deveria ser exposta no Dubai, Nova Iorque, e finalmente instalada em Palmira/unveiling of scaled 2:3 recreation of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph, in London, Trafalgar Square. The original was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. From there, the replica was to be exhibited in Dubai, New York, and to be installed back in Palmyra, fotografia/photo Reuters, 19 Abril/April 2016 
apresentação em Londres, Trafalgar Square, de recriação à escala 2:3 do Arco do Triunfo de Palmira, destruído pelo ISIS em 2015. Daqui, a réplica deveria ser exposta no Dubai, Nova Iorque, e finalmente instalada em Palmira/unveiling of scaled 2:3 recreation of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph, in London, Trafalgar Square. The original was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. From there, the replica was to be exhibited in Dubai, New York, and to be installed back in Palmyra, fotografia/photo Reuters, 19 Abril/April 2016 
apresentação em Londres, Trafalgar Square, de recriação à escala 2:3 do Arco do Triunfo de Palmira, destruído pelo ISIS em 2015. Daqui, a réplica deveria ser exposta no Dubai, Nova Iorque, e finalmente instalada em Palmira/unveiling of scaled 2:3 recreation of Palmyra's Arch of Triumph, in London, Trafalgar Square. The original was destroyed by ISIS in 2015. From there, the replica was to be exhibited in Dubai, New York, and to be installed back in Palmyra, fotografia/photo Reuters, 19 Abril/April 2016 
A rua de Rivoli depois dos confrontos e incêndios da Comuna de Paris/The rue de Rivoli after the fights and the fires of the Paris Commune. fotografia/photograph: Niday Picture Library/Alamy, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1871
A rua de Rivoli depois dos confrontos e incêndios da Comuna de Paris/The rue de Rivoli after the fights and the fires of the Paris Commune. fotografia/photograph: Niday Picture Library/Alamy, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1871
A rua de Rivoli depois dos confrontos e incêndios da Comuna de Paris/The rue de Rivoli after the fights and the fires of the Paris Commune. fotografia/photograph: Niday Picture Library/Alamy, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1871
A rua de Rivoli depois dos confrontos e incêndios da Comuna de Paris/The rue de Rivoli after the fights and the fires of the Paris Commune. fotografia/photograph: Niday Picture Library/Alamy, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1871
Black Lives Matter protesters pull down statue of Edward Colston before throwing it into river, Bristol Post:BPM Media/the Sun, video, 1:52 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 8 Junho/June 2020
Black Lives Matter protesters pull down statue of Edward Colston before throwing it into river, Bristol Post:BPM Media/the Sun, video, 1:52 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 8 Junho/June 2020
Black Lives Matter protesters pull down statue of Edward Colston before throwing it into river, Bristol Post:BPM Media/the Sun, video, 1:52 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 8 Junho/June 2020
Emídio Santana relata ao pormenor a forma como em 1937 foi planeado o atentado bombista perpetrado contra António Oliveira Salazar/Emídio Santana details how a bomb attack was planned and perpetrated against António Oliveira Salazar, in 1937, imagens/images Arquivo RTP, in Sem Coragem Não se Faz a História: Emídio Santana, 02:16 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1975
Emídio Santana relata ao pormenor a forma como em 1937 foi planeado o atentado bombista perpetrado contra António Oliveira Salazar/Emídio Santana details how a bomb attack was planned and perpetrated against António Oliveira Salazar, in 1937, imagens/images Arquivo RTP, in Sem Coragem Não se Faz a História: Emídio Santana, 02:16 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1975
Emídio Santana relata ao pormenor a forma como em 1937 foi planeado o atentado bombista perpetrado contra António Oliveira Salazar/Emídio Santana details how a bomb attack was planned and perpetrated against António Oliveira Salazar, in 1937, imagens/images Arquivo RTP, in Sem Coragem Não se Faz a História: Emídio Santana, 02:16 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1975
Gwangju Tax Office Burning, Kwangju May 18 Democratic Uprising Archive, 21 Maio/May 1980 
Gwangju Tax Office Burning, Kwangju May 18 Democratic Uprising Archive, 21 Maio/May 1980 
Gwangju Tax Office Burning, Kwangju May 18 Democratic Uprising Archive, 21 Maio/May 1980 
Gwangju Tax Office Burning, Kwangju May 18 Democratic Uprising Archive, 21 Maio/May 1980 
IBM, You can't stop time by smashing clocks, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, El Luddismo: la nueva tecnología y la crítica de la economía política, in Máquina Maldita: contribuciones para una historia del luddismo, Frank E. Manuel, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, alikornio ediciones, Barcelona, 2002, p.67
IBM, You can't stop time by smashing clocks, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, El Luddismo: la nueva tecnología y la crítica de la economía política, in Máquina Maldita: contribuciones para una historia del luddismo, Frank E. Manuel, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, alikornio ediciones, Barcelona, 2002, p.67
IBM, You can't stop time by smashing clocks, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, El Luddismo: la nueva tecnología y la crítica de la economía política, in Máquina Maldita: contribuciones para una historia del luddismo, Frank E. Manuel, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, alikornio ediciones, Barcelona, 2002, p.67
IBM, You can't stop time by smashing clocks, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, El Luddismo: la nueva tecnología y la crítica de la economía política, in Máquina Maldita: contribuciones para una historia del luddismo, Frank E. Manuel, Kevin Robins, Frank Webster, alikornio ediciones, Barcelona, 2002, p.67
Ilustração de uma guilhotina/Illustration of a Guillotine, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1792
Ilustração de uma guilhotina/Illustration of a Guillotine, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1792
Ilustração de uma guilhotina/Illustration of a Guillotine, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1792
Ilustração de uma guilhotina/Illustration of a Guillotine, autor desconhecido/unknown author, 1792
imagem colorida artificialmente, tirada pelo satélite Sentinel-2 da Comissão Europeia, processada pelo Sinergise Sentinel Hub website mostra fumo a sair da refinaria de gás natural Shaybah, na Arábia Saudita, após ataque por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows smoke rising from a natural gas facility at the Shaybah oil field in Saudi Arabia after a drone attack claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, 17 Agosto/August 2019
imagem colorida artificialmente, tirada pelo satélite Sentinel-2 da Comissão Europeia, processada pelo Sinergise Sentinel Hub website mostra fumo a sair da refinaria de gás natural Shaybah, na Arábia Saudita, após ataque por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows smoke rising from a natural gas facility at the Shaybah oil field in Saudi Arabia after a drone attack claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, 17 Agosto/August 2019
imagem colorida artificialmente, tirada pelo satélite Sentinel-2 da Comissão Europeia, processada pelo Sinergise Sentinel Hub website mostra fumo a sair da refinaria de gás natural Shaybah, na Arábia Saudita, após ataque por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows smoke rising from a natural gas facility at the Shaybah oil field in Saudi Arabia after a drone attack claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, 17 Agosto/August 2019
imagem colorida artificialmente, tirada pelo satélite Sentinel-2 da Comissão Europeia, processada pelo Sinergise Sentinel Hub website mostra fumo a sair da refinaria de gás natural Shaybah, na Arábia Saudita, após ataque por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/false-color image from the European Commission's Sentinel-2 satellite that was processed by Sinergise's Sentinel Hub website shows smoke rising from a natural gas facility at the Shaybah oil field in Saudi Arabia after a drone attack claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels, 17 Agosto/August 2019
imagem de satélite onde são visíveis os efeitos de um ataque por drones à maior refinaria de petróleo do mundo, em Harad, Arábia Saudita, reivindicado por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/a satellite image shows an apparent drone strike, claimed by Yemenite Houthi rebels, on the world's largest oil facility in Harad, Saudi Arabia, fotografia/photo Planet Labs Inc Via Reuters, 14 Setembro/September 2019
imagem de satélite onde são visíveis os efeitos de um ataque por drones à maior refinaria de petróleo do mundo, em Harad, Arábia Saudita, reivindicado por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/a satellite image shows an apparent drone strike, claimed by Yemenite Houthi rebels, on the world's largest oil facility in Harad, Saudi Arabia, fotografia/photo Planet Labs Inc Via Reuters, 14 Setembro/September 2019
imagem de satélite onde são visíveis os efeitos de um ataque por drones à maior refinaria de petróleo do mundo, em Harad, Arábia Saudita, reivindicado por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/a satellite image shows an apparent drone strike, claimed by Yemenite Houthi rebels, on the world's largest oil facility in Harad, Saudi Arabia, fotografia/photo Planet Labs Inc Via Reuters, 14 Setembro/September 2019
imagem de satélite onde são visíveis os efeitos de um ataque por drones à maior refinaria de petróleo do mundo, em Harad, Arábia Saudita, reivindicado por rebeldes Iémenitas Houthi/a satellite image shows an apparent drone strike, claimed by Yemenite Houthi rebels, on the world's largest oil facility in Harad, Saudi Arabia, fotografia/photo Planet Labs Inc Via Reuters, 14 Setembro/September 2019
Incêndio destrói acervo do artista plástico Hélio Oiticica, G1, Globo.com, 17 Outubro/October 2009

Incêndio destrói acervo do artista plástico Hélio Oiticica

Incêndio destrói acervo do artista plástico Hélio Oiticica

Segundo irmão do artista, prejuízo pode chegar a US$ 200 milhões.
Fogo atingiu residência da família na Zona Sul do Rio.

Um incêndio atingiu a residência da família do pintor, escultor e artista plástico Hélio Oiticica, na Zona Sul do Rio, na noite desta sexta-feira (16). Segundo um irmão do artista, o acervo que estava na casa foi quase todo destruído pelas chamas e prejuízo pode chegar a US$ 200 milhões.
A casa fica no Jardim Botânico. O fogo atingiu uma sala do primeiro andar, justamente onde ficavam guardadas as esculturas, pinturas e instalações do revolucionário artista, considerado um dos fundadores do neoconcretismo.
Os parentes estavam no andar de cima quando sentiram um forte cheiro de fumaça. “Arrombei a porta para sair a fumaça e a gente entrar e ver o que era, mas já era tarde demais. Já estava pegando fogo em tudo”, disse o irmão.
Segundo César, 90% das obras do irmão foram destruídas, um prejuízo estimado por ele em US$ 200 milhões. CDs e arquivos de computador que estavam em um outro escritório não foram atingidos pelas chamas.
A família não tem ideia do que provocou o fogo, pois [a] sala tem controle de umidade e temperatura. “Eu sinto que fracassei, pois desde que me aposentei minha missão era cuidar da obra dele. Eu me sinto péssimo”.

Incêndio no Xuxa Park/Fire at Xuxa Park, 01:56 mins., 11 Janeiro/January 2001
Incêndio no Xuxa Park/Fire at Xuxa Park, 01:56 mins., 11 Janeiro/January 2001
Incêndio no Xuxa Park/Fire at Xuxa Park, 01:56 mins., 11 Janeiro/January 2001
IS Group Destroys Ancient Ruins of Nimrud, AP, 01:32 mins., 12 Abril/April 2015
IS Group Destroys Ancient Ruins of Nimrud, AP, 01:32 mins., 12 Abril/April 2015
IS Group Destroys Ancient Ruins of Nimrud, AP, 01:32 mins., 12 Abril/April 2015
Kazimir Malevich's funeral car rolls through the streets of Leningrad, with the black square mounted on the front, fotografia/photo, 1935
Kazimir Malevich's funeral car rolls through the streets of Leningrad, with the black square mounted on the front, fotografia/photo, 1935
Kazimir Malevich's funeral car rolls through the streets of Leningrad, with the black square mounted on the front, fotografia/photo, 1935
Kazimir Malevich's funeral car rolls through the streets of Leningrad, with the black square mounted on the front, fotografia/photo, 1935
«Performances», in Expresso, recorte de imprensa/news clip, 11 Maio/May 1985
«Performances», in Expresso, recorte de imprensa/news clip, 11 Maio/May 1985
«Performances», in Expresso, recorte de imprensa/news clip, 11 Maio/May 1985
«Performances», in Expresso, recorte de imprensa/news clip, 11 Maio/May 1985
Letter Chopper, Everyday Science and Mechanics Magazine, Agosto/August, 1935 
Letter Chopper, Everyday Science and Mechanics Magazine, Agosto/August, 1935 
Letter Chopper, Everyday Science and Mechanics Magazine, Agosto/August, 1935 
Letter Chopper, Everyday Science and Mechanics Magazine, Agosto/August, 1935 
Luditas destruindo máquinas numa fábrica em Inglaterra/ Frame-breakers, or Luddites, smashing a loom, autor desconhecido/ unknown author, 1812
Luditas destruindo máquinas numa fábrica em Inglaterra/ Frame-breakers, or Luddites, smashing a loom, autor desconhecido/ unknown author, 1812
Luditas destruindo máquinas numa fábrica em Inglaterra/ Frame-breakers, or Luddites, smashing a loom, autor desconhecido/ unknown author, 1812
Luditas destruindo máquinas numa fábrica em Inglaterra/ Frame-breakers, or Luddites, smashing a loom, autor desconhecido/ unknown author, 1812
Luxury housing built over grave of famed Russian painter, Agence France-Presse, Departamento de Objectividade Comparada do arquivo de destruição, 28 Agosto/August 2013
Luxury housing built over grave of famed Russian painter, Agence France-Presse, Departamento de Objectividade Comparada do arquivo de destruição, 28 Agosto/August 2013
Luxury housing built over grave of famed Russian painter, Agence France-Presse, Departamento de Objectividade Comparada do arquivo de destruição, 28 Agosto/August 2013
Luxury housing built over grave of famed Russian painter, Agence France-Presse, Departamento de Objectividade Comparada do arquivo de destruição, 28 Agosto/August 2013
multidão reúne-se para ver grupo de estudantes, que se manifestavam na Praça Tiananmen, queimar cópias do Beijing Daily (Diário de Pequim) em frente dos escritórios do jornal em retaliação contra artigos anti-estudantes/The Tiananmen Square protests: a huge crowd gathers to watch as student protestors burn copies of the Beijing Daily in retaliation for anti-student articles in front of the newspaper’s offices, 2 Junho/June 1989
multidão reúne-se para ver grupo de estudantes, que se manifestavam na Praça Tiananmen, queimar cópias do Beijing Daily (Diário de Pequim) em frente dos escritórios do jornal em retaliação contra artigos anti-estudantes/The Tiananmen Square protests: a huge crowd gathers to watch as student protestors burn copies of the Beijing Daily in retaliation for anti-student articles in front of the newspaper’s offices, 2 Junho/June 1989
multidão reúne-se para ver grupo de estudantes, que se manifestavam na Praça Tiananmen, queimar cópias do Beijing Daily (Diário de Pequim) em frente dos escritórios do jornal em retaliação contra artigos anti-estudantes/The Tiananmen Square protests: a huge crowd gathers to watch as student protestors burn copies of the Beijing Daily in retaliation for anti-student articles in front of the newspaper’s offices, 2 Junho/June 1989
multidão reúne-se para ver grupo de estudantes, que se manifestavam na Praça Tiananmen, queimar cópias do Beijing Daily (Diário de Pequim) em frente dos escritórios do jornal em retaliação contra artigos anti-estudantes/The Tiananmen Square protests: a huge crowd gathers to watch as student protestors burn copies of the Beijing Daily in retaliation for anti-student articles in front of the newspaper’s offices, 2 Junho/June 1989
Nam June Paik connection. Going through old files: correspondence received from a polymath in 1994, facebook post por/by Douglas Kahn, 09 Julho/July 2020
Nam June Paik connection. Going through old files: correspondence received from a polymath in 1994, facebook post por/by Douglas Kahn, 09 Julho/July 2020
Nam June Paik connection. Going through old files: correspondence received from a polymath in 1994, facebook post por/by Douglas Kahn, 09 Julho/July 2020
Nam June Paik connection. Going through old files: correspondence received from a polymath in 1994, facebook post por/by Douglas Kahn, 09 Julho/July 2020
Para ouvir canções de protesto contra a sociedade de consumo, nada melhor que um Gradiente financiado em 24 meses/To listen to protest songs against the consumer society, there's nothing better than a Gradiente, paid in 24 monthly installments, anúncio da empresa Gradiente/advertisement, ca. 1970s
Para ouvir canções de protesto contra a sociedade de consumo, nada melhor que um Gradiente financiado em 24 meses/To listen to protest songs against the consumer society, there's nothing better than a Gradiente, paid in 24 monthly installments, anúncio da empresa Gradiente/advertisement, ca. 1970s
Para ouvir canções de protesto contra a sociedade de consumo, nada melhor que um Gradiente financiado em 24 meses/To listen to protest songs against the consumer society, there's nothing better than a Gradiente, paid in 24 monthly installments, anúncio da empresa Gradiente/advertisement, ca. 1970s
Para ouvir canções de protesto contra a sociedade de consumo, nada melhor que um Gradiente financiado em 24 meses/To listen to protest songs against the consumer society, there's nothing better than a Gradiente, paid in 24 monthly installments, anúncio da empresa Gradiente/advertisement, ca. 1970s
Pelotão Comunista disparando sobre o Monumento do Sagrado Coração/Communist Squad Firing on the Monument of the Sacred Heart, fotografia tirada por representante da Paramount News-reel, no Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Espanha/picture taken by a Paramount News-reel representative at Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Spain, 1936 
Pelotão Comunista disparando sobre o Monumento do Sagrado Coração/Communist Squad Firing on the Monument of the Sacred Heart, fotografia tirada por representante da Paramount News-reel, no Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Espanha/picture taken by a Paramount News-reel representative at Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Spain, 1936 
Pelotão Comunista disparando sobre o Monumento do Sagrado Coração/Communist Squad Firing on the Monument of the Sacred Heart, fotografia tirada por representante da Paramount News-reel, no Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Espanha/picture taken by a Paramount News-reel representative at Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Spain, 1936 
Pelotão Comunista disparando sobre o Monumento do Sagrado Coração/Communist Squad Firing on the Monument of the Sacred Heart, fotografia tirada por representante da Paramount News-reel, no Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Espanha/picture taken by a Paramount News-reel representative at Cerro de los Angeles, Madrid, Spain, 1936 
Polvorinho com gravura representando um mapa dos fortes e cidades ao longo dos rios Hudson e Mohawk, e as armas da Grã-Bretanha/This powder horn is engraved with a map of forts and cities along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and the arms of Great Britain, chifre de vaca, madeira, pigmento/horn (cow), wood, pigment, 31,4 cm. X Ø 8.3 cm, 255.1 gr, 1763  
Polvorinho com gravura representando um mapa dos fortes e cidades ao longo dos rios Hudson e Mohawk, e as armas da Grã-Bretanha/This powder horn is engraved with a map of forts and cities along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and the arms of Great Britain, chifre de vaca, madeira, pigmento/horn (cow), wood, pigment, 31,4 cm. X Ø 8.3 cm, 255.1 gr, 1763  
Polvorinho com gravura representando um mapa dos fortes e cidades ao longo dos rios Hudson e Mohawk, e as armas da Grã-Bretanha/This powder horn is engraved with a map of forts and cities along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and the arms of Great Britain, chifre de vaca, madeira, pigmento/horn (cow), wood, pigment, 31,4 cm. X Ø 8.3 cm, 255.1 gr, 1763  
Polvorinho com gravura representando um mapa dos fortes e cidades ao longo dos rios Hudson e Mohawk, e as armas da Grã-Bretanha/This powder horn is engraved with a map of forts and cities along the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, and the arms of Great Britain, chifre de vaca, madeira, pigmento/horn (cow), wood, pigment, 31,4 cm. X Ø 8.3 cm, 255.1 gr, 1763  
Proposta de desenho de bandeira Union Jack sem a Escócia, desenho com motivos pretos e dourados da bandeira de S. David/Design Proposed for Union Jack Flag Without Scotland, design with black and gold from the St. David flag,  imagem digital/digital image, Dezeen.com, 27 Fevereiro/February 2014
Proposta de desenho de bandeira Union Jack sem a Escócia, desenho com motivos pretos e dourados da bandeira de S. David/Design Proposed for Union Jack Flag Without Scotland, design with black and gold from the St. David flag,  imagem digital/digital image, Dezeen.com, 27 Fevereiro/February 2014
Proposta de desenho de bandeira Union Jack sem a Escócia, desenho com motivos pretos e dourados da bandeira de S. David/Design Proposed for Union Jack Flag Without Scotland, design with black and gold from the St. David flag,  imagem digital/digital image, Dezeen.com, 27 Fevereiro/February 2014
Proposta de desenho de bandeira Union Jack sem a Escócia, desenho com motivos pretos e dourados da bandeira de S. David/Design Proposed for Union Jack Flag Without Scotland, design with black and gold from the St. David flag,  imagem digital/digital image, Dezeen.com, 27 Fevereiro/February 2014
Relief statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, attacked in Reformation iconoclasm in the 16th century. imagem/photo: Arktos, 2003
Relief statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, attacked in Reformation iconoclasm in the 16th century. imagem/photo: Arktos, 2003
Relief statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, attacked in Reformation iconoclasm in the 16th century. imagem/photo: Arktos, 2003
Relief statues in the Cathedral of Saint Martin, Utrecht, attacked in Reformation iconoclasm in the 16th century. imagem/photo: Arktos, 2003
Saint Lo (France) in Ruins After Normandy Invasion: two boys overlooking the ruined remains of the village of St. Lo, France after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 1944
Saint Lo (France) in Ruins After Normandy Invasion: two boys overlooking the ruined remains of the village of St. Lo, France after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 1944
Saint Lo (France) in Ruins After Normandy Invasion: two boys overlooking the ruined remains of the village of St. Lo, France after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 1944
Saint Lo (France) in Ruins After Normandy Invasion: two boys overlooking the ruined remains of the village of St. Lo, France after the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 1944
vista aérea do local onde decorreu a primeira explosão atómica, na área de testes Trinity, no Novo México. o dispositivo explodiu com uma potência equivalente a 21,000 toneladas de TNT/An aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at the Trinity test site in New Mexico. The device exploded with a power equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, fotografia/photo AP, 1945
vista aérea do local onde decorreu a primeira explosão atómica, na área de testes Trinity, no Novo México. o dispositivo explodiu com uma potência equivalente a 21,000 toneladas de TNT/An aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at the Trinity test site in New Mexico. The device exploded with a power equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, fotografia/photo AP, 1945
vista aérea do local onde decorreu a primeira explosão atómica, na área de testes Trinity, no Novo México. o dispositivo explodiu com uma potência equivalente a 21,000 toneladas de TNT/An aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at the Trinity test site in New Mexico. The device exploded with a power equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, fotografia/photo AP, 1945
vista aérea do local onde decorreu a primeira explosão atómica, na área de testes Trinity, no Novo México. o dispositivo explodiu com uma potência equivalente a 21,000 toneladas de TNT/An aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at the Trinity test site in New Mexico. The device exploded with a power equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT, fotografia/photo AP, 1945
ENZENSBERGER, Hans Magnus. [1968] Las Casas ou Uma Retrospectiva no Futuro in Brevíssima Relação da Destruição das Índias, trad. Júlio Henriques, Antígona, 1997. p.32

O domínio colonial fundamenta-se apenas no ferro e no fogo, não na palavra e no arado.

Las Casas ou Uma Retrospectiva no Futuro

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

O empreendimento demonstra a coerência teórica e prática característica de toda a sua obra. Acabou numa catástrofe. Na audiência concedida por Carlos V, propôs ao imperador fundar uma colónia exemplar «pelo arado e pela palavra», a fim de provar que os seus princípios resistiriam na prática. O imperador adjudicou-lhe o distrito de Cumaná na Venezuela através dum decreto, com a determinação «de que nenhum súbdito espanhol penetrasse na região com armas». Las Casas recrutou um grupo de camponeses, equipou uma expedição desarmada e começou a edificação da colónia. Assaltos da soldadesca espanhola, invasões de traficantes de escravos na zona pacificada, revoltas de índios exasperados, contrabando de aguardente e actos de violência destruíram a colónia em pouco tempo. Nenhuma das derrotas que Las Casas sofreu o abateu tanto. A força comprobatória da experiência ainda não se esgotou até hoje. Não há colonizações pacíficas. O domínio colonial fundamenta-se apenas no ferro e no fogo, não na palavra e no arado. Qualquer «aliança para o progresso» precisa dos seus gorilas, qualquer «penetração pacífica» necessita de um comando de bombardeiros e qualquer «reformador sensato» da espécie dum general Lansdal encontra o seu marechal Ky. Bartolomé de Las Casas não foi um reformador. O novo colonialismo que domina este pobre mundo não pode recorrer a ele. Quanto ao problema decisivo da violência, Las Casas não tinha dúvidas. Os povos subjugados praticam, segundo as suas palavras, «uma guerra justa, cujas razões legais serão aceites por qualquer homem amante da justiça». 
 

ESPOSITO, Roberto. Persons and Things, From the Body’s Point of View, Polity Press, 2005, pp.32-33

The concept of person, which in principle should lead to the universalization of inalienable rights, has long been employed to exclude some types of humans from the benefits granted to others. It has been used to make them into person-things to be used and abused. The only difference between the slavery of ancient Rome, which was later moderated by protective institutions, and that of today is the brutality of the current forms.

Persons and Things

Roberto Esposito

Suffice to say that the institution of slavery, which appears to us today as having faded into the obscurity of a remote past, was only abolished less than two centuries ago – only to reappear, as we well know, in other forms of de facto slavery that are still widespread. The concept of person, which in principle should lead to the universalization of inalienable rights, has long been employed to exclude some types of humans from the benefits granted to others. It has been used to make them into person-things to be used and abused. The only difference between the slavery of ancient Rome, which was later moderated by protective institutions, and that of today is the brutality of the current forms. Between a slave lashed to death in the provinces of the Roman Empire, in the Alabama of the nineteenth century, or today off the coast of Lampedusa, the most appalling event by far is the most recent one. It has been said that the body, precisely because it lacks a particular legal status, is the means of transition from the person to the thing. Not being invested as such by the law, it oscillates between these two dimensions, allowing the transposition of one into the other. This applies to the human race as a whole, cut into segments by anthropological thresholds of separation and exclusion, but also to the individual, who is divided into two areas that are valued differently – one of a rational or spiritual nature, and the other corporeal.

EVANS, Cerith Wyn. With the Advent of Radio Astronomy..., texto em vinil a acompanhar fotografias/vinyl text accompanying photographs, vista de instalação/installation view Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2004
EVANS, Cerith Wyn. With the Advent of Radio Astronomy..., texto em vinil a acompanhar fotografias/vinyl text accompanying photographs, vista de instalação/installation view Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2004
EVANS, Cerith Wyn. With the Advent of Radio Astronomy..., texto em vinil a acompanhar fotografias/vinyl text accompanying photographs, vista de instalação/installation view Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2004
EVANS, Cerith Wyn. With the Advent of Radio Astronomy..., texto em vinil a acompanhar fotografias/vinyl text accompanying photographs, vista de instalação/installation view Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2004
FACCHETTI, Marco. How to Build a Molotov Cocktail, carvão e cola vinílica sobre tela/charcoal and vinyl glue on canvas, 40x40cm, s/d
FACCHETTI, Marco. How to Build a Molotov Cocktail, carvão e cola vinílica sobre tela/charcoal and vinyl glue on canvas, 40x40cm, s/d
FACCHETTI, Marco. How to Build a Molotov Cocktail, carvão e cola vinílica sobre tela/charcoal and vinyl glue on canvas, 40x40cm, s/d
FACCHETTI, Marco. How to Build a Molotov Cocktail, carvão e cola vinílica sobre tela/charcoal and vinyl glue on canvas, 40x40cm, s/d
FARM, Ant. Media Burn, still from video, 1975
FARM, Ant. Media Burn, still from video, 1975
FARM, Ant. Media Burn, still from video, 1975
FARM, Ant. Media Burn, still from video, 1975
FAROCKI, Harun. [2003] Phantom Images, in Public 29, Localities, ed. Saara Liinamaa, Janine Marchessault and Christine Shaw, 2004, transl. Brian Poole. text based on a talk delivered at ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany, 2003. pp. 15-21

What is shown in these programs comes neither from the micro- nor from the macro-cosmos, but rather from the middle level; its lower boundary line is the close-up of the human face, its higher level a street block of houses. This is the filling, so to speak, in the picture of the cosmic sandwich. Children are encouraged not to eat the filling without the bread, an exercise in the sublimation of desire.

Phantom Images

Harun Farocki

At a press conference during the first Gulf War, a representative of the US military showed a film in which a car could be seen driving away from a bridge that had just been hit — and he made a joke about it. Today you cannot get footage from the military archives in which cars can be seen, footage that would force you to conclude that humans were indeed present at or near the target. It is obvious, then, how war tactics and war reportage coincide. The images are produced by the military and are controlled by the military and politicians.

In the first war against Iraq in 1991, the image of the police worked according to the principle of the good-cop/bad-cop scheme. On the side of the Iraqis was the bad-cop who used conventional methods of power to keep the reporters and cameramen from the field of battle. They did not want to have them documenting the fact that the Saddam-regime was perhaps capable of terrorizing its own population and the population of Kuwait, or that it was not capable of organizing an army that could offer at least minimal protection for its retreating soldiers, not to mention its own civilian population. The good-cop from the US, by contrast, excluded the photographers and cameramen structurally from the event itself, thanks again to the "filming bombs," as Theweleit called them. Bombs with cameras in them offer no room for an independent observer.

Iraq allowed a couple of journalists to stay in Baghdad during the war, among them Pete Arnet from CNN. They sent us the green contrast-enhanced panoramas. Like Ernst Jünger in Paris, Arnet experienced the bombarding of Baghdad first-hand from the roof of his hotel, but, in contrast to Ernst Jünger, he was held under a sort of house arrest. Both were forced to offer an aestheticized reflection, one befitting the mind of an armchair military strategist perched on a hill. The correspondents in Baghdad belonged to a tactical reserve of an intensely contradictory strategy of the Saddam-regime: on the one hand they were supposed to conceal the inferiority of the Iraqis, on the other hand, they were supposed to expose the inhumanity of the allied war against them. To do so they required a photo of dead bodies, of as many dead bodies as possible, a close-up of them in one picture. 

There is a film about a minute long, made in 1942, of the training flight of the missile HS 293 D over a shipwreck near Peenemünde. It was recorded by a television camera in the warhead of the projectile. The television pictures were sent by a transmitter to an accompanying plane that fired the missile and then deviated from the missile's path without losing sight of it. From the plane the missile was guided to its target using a control stick closely resembling the modern day joystick. Since, as is well known, it was impossible to record electronic images right up until the 1950s, this sequence is probably the only remaining film documentation of this experiment — one of the technicians filmed it from the monitor with his camera. The miniaturization of the television camera was a developmental advancement, but the HS 293 D itself was never used during World War II. By contrast with the rocket-builders, the rocket-television-camera-installers continued their work not in the US, but in the West German television industry.

I recall a quotation: 

«We feel that it is immoral to design weapons whose construction presupposes the death of the soldier using it, and thus — at least in our understanding — implying sacrifice as part of the mechanism of the weapon. In Japan, however, the mission of the kamikaze pilot who dives his plane into an enemy destroyer is considered an honour. They also have torpedoes that are guided towards their target by a pilot built into it. An interesting twist to the saying: 'the bullet is a blind idiot.'» (Ernst Jünger, The Gordian Knot, 1953) 

The bullet is a blind idiot, or, to quote from the "Soldier's Song": "Go on, Luise, wipe your face, my darling, /Not every bullet hits its target" ("Nun ade lieb Luise, wisch ab Dein Gesicht/ Eine jede Kugel die trifft ja nicht"). The pictures from the warhead of the missiles of 1991, together with the expression "intelligent weapons," are so distressing, or so gripping, precisely because the bullets are not blind any more. And in war, death is always someone else's death. The pattern of recognition and object tracking of seeing bombs threatens with infallibility. Paul Virilio's comment that these images are aimed at us sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The apparatus HIL, short for "hardware in the loop," is a machine that tests the flight path of rockets as they travel towards their target and corrects their course, independently navigating their flight to their strategic objective. The apparatus, about as large as an automobile, offers a large number of variable parameters and can perform quick swerving movements with great precision. The large-scale image shows the scanning warhead and its tilting prisms; images are transmitted to the warhead — simulated pictures of the landscape it has to fly over. [...] The automated eye has recorded only a few search patterns through which it looks at the images of the real world. These picture-processing apparatuses work with the same sort of clumsiness with which robotic arms perform a new task. Each movement is broken down into fragments, and each fragment of the movement is performed with equal dedication, precisely but with absolutely no habitual elegance. But just as the robots in factories first used manual labourers as their model until they outperformed them and rendered them obsolete, these sensory automatons are supposed to replace the work of the human eye.

In my first work on this subject, Eye/Machine (2001), I called such pictures, made neither to entertain nor to inform, "operative images." These are images that do not represent an object, but rather are part of an operation. Later it occurred to me that this term came from Roland Barthes. [...]

Today we are under no pressure to become radical materialists and to trace the manifestations of materialism in the structures of language and thought. If we take an interest in pictures that are part of an operation, this is because we are weary of non-operative pictures, and weary of meta-language. Weary of the day-to-day practice of re-mythologizing quotidian life, weary of the ever-changing and many-channelled program of images custom-made to mean something to us. What is shown in these programs comes neither from the micro- nor from the macro-cosmos, but rather from the middle level; its lower boundary line is the close-up of the human face, its higher level a street block of houses. This is the filling, so to speak, in the picture of the cosmic sandwich. Children are encouraged not to eat the filling without the bread, an exercise in the sublimation of desire. Or perhaps the movie and television industry has exhausted itself in its overproduction of material.

[...]

Today the materialists are the artists like Heidi and Alvin Toffler; they don't belong to an intellectual circle in Paris, but to a think-tank in Washington close to the Pentagon. In their books The Third Wave and War and Anti-War, books with a huge circulation in the paperback editions, they assume that there is a necessary correspondence between the technology of production and the technology of destruction, of manufacturing and war. War is in this axiomatic and evolutionary view a field of activity like any other, much as one would compare agriculture to industry. In this respect, it ought to be noted that the inhabitants of Carthage had far more complicated catapults than agricultural tools, and that during World War II, when the military was developing radio-controlled weapons, the jet airplane, stereophonic recording, and the computer, there were more labouring slaves on German ruled territory than ever before.

The reductionist representation of the Swiss weapons manufacturer Örlikon shows the approaching flight of a projectile that is then sighted by ground defences and destroyed by an anti-ballistic missile. This sequence of products, in which a new product displaces an old one, is also a model of culture. The cold war made it possible for over 40 years to write off rockets, tanks, jets and planes, and ships that were never used materially and were sometimes morally worn out already before they were completed. The products of the IT industry have a longer shelf life than the machinery of war. And in order to keep the market free of constipation, moral campaigns have to be waged, but these themselves grow old and wear out.

[...]

But now the arms industry itself has a hard time justifying its new products. It lacks an enemy that could produce anti-ballistic weapons against it, which would then require anti-anti-ballistic weapons. And it is hard to make systematic sense out of the ways of war: you can supply weapons to an ally who then leaves the alliance and becomes an enemy, as in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq. I am speaking here from the phantom perspective of war, from the perspective of an imagined war-subjectivity. In Brecht's Mother Courage we find the sentence: "War always finds a solution." Barbara Ehrenreich interpreted the sentence to mean that war is incredibly inventive when it is a matter of its own survival. Even if no one wanted war any more, it would attempt to mutate into a war of automatons in a deserted field of battle. In rich countries the majority do not want war. War is not necessary, just as gold backing is not necessary for currency. Yet people have recently come to believe, with Hobbes, in gold backing for our culture. And we create holidays in memory of a common denominator, violence. The recent wars that have been led with unimaginable superiority on one side — in asymmetry — are the ritual precursors of such holidays.

The fantastic impression of an abandoned battlefield upon which the war is continually being fought — a bit like the toys that come to life when the children are sleeping — remind one of the emptiness of the production plants. In the automobile industry, for instance, you only see the people working where there is no more space for robots. When observing the connection between production and destruction, the following analogy appears: while factories in rich countries have fewer and fewer people in them, more people than ever before perform manual labour in poor countries. And even the wars increasingly take place in poor countries. The operative war pictures from the Gulf War of 1991 that do not show any people are paradoxical. Despite the censorship, the pictures were more than propaganda attempting to silence the sum total of perhaps 200,000 dead. They were, perhaps above all, in the spirit of a utopia of war, a utopia that doesn't reckon with encountering people, accepting them only somewhat disdainfully as victims.

[...]

It is true that operational pictures conjure up the image of a cleanly led war, and they are stronger than the pictures of the dirty war, like the pictures of an air raid shelter in Baghdad in which a couple of hundred civilians were torn to pieces. The television spectators were supposed to appreciate the war technicians and to sympathize with the technology of war through the images of aerial photographs, which were actually made only for the eyes of the war technicians. But they still remained political beings who spoke with each other and criticized pictures; they knew how to distinguish between the first war, when Iraq attacked Kuwait and attempted to annex it, and the second war. In 2003 the pictures from the warheads of missiles were rarely shown. And there was no talk of intelligent weapons, only of precision-guided weapons.

Due to the secrecy surrounding military operations, it is difficult to prove the following assumption, but everything seems to support the theory that in both Gulf wars there were no intelligent weapons, none that could seek out and hit its target on its own. It was more than the usual wartime trickery of the opponent. Here there was a continuous attempt to make the idea of a seeing bomb so popular and common that, thereafter, they would have to be ordered, developed, and paid for.

Similarly, there are no pictures that do not aim at the human eye. A computer can process pictures, but it needs no pictures to verify or falsify what it reads in the images it processes. For the computer, the image in the computer is enough. Nevertheless, the "objective language" pictures are distinct by degrees from the "meta-linguistic" pictures, much as the aesthetics of the machine are distinct from commodity aesthetics. And the axe of Roland Barthes's lumberjack is not simply a manifestation of goal-related rationality: even a tool communicates not only with the materials of its trade, but also with the human senses.

FAWCETT, Fausto. [2010] Favelost, Martins Editora Livraria Ltda., 2012. pp. 7–8

Peruas desgarradas, socialites encrencadas queimam joias e batons caríssimos numa fogueira em frente ao pavilhão de negociações imobiliárias onde muita gente está comprando casas portáteis, kitchenettes que são montadas em qualquer lugar com toda a infra necessária. Coisas da inexorável e claustrofóbica sustentabilidade. Peruas desgarradas, patricinhas cheias de convicção dissoluta, cientes de sua missão de estar no mundo a serviço do princípio do prazer egoísta motivado por sentimentos exclusivistas de pseudoaristocracia rapinante que deixam essas deliciosas arrivistas de rara sagacidade, de perfumado maquiavelismo insinuante, sempre a postos no que diz respeito a, digamos, melhorar espertamente de vida.

Favelost

Fausto Fawcett

Peruas desgarradas, socialites encrencadas queimam joias e batons caríssimos numa fogueira em frente ao pavilhão de negociações imobiliárias onde muita gente está comprando casas portáteis, kitchenettes que são montadas em qualquer lugar com toda a infra necessária. Coisas da inexorável e claustrofóbica sustentabilidade. Peruas desgarradas, patricinhas cheias de convicção dissoluta, cientes de sua missão de estar no mundo a serviço do princípio do prazer egoísta motivado por sentimentos exclusivistas de pseudoaristocracia rapinante que deixam essas deliciosas arrivistas de rara sagacidade, de perfumado maquiavelismo insinuante, sempre a postos no que diz respeito a, digamos, melhorar espertamente de vida. Algumas se sentem canonizadas de tão ricas e tão mimadas desde o berço, gerando aura de sofisticação e pernóstica desatenção ao que não é do seu meio—hábitat—de vida. Outras tem cacife de existência sofrida, pedigree de superação da miséria, milhagem de dificuldade no terrivelmente épico mundo cão da sobrevivência, o que dá uma garra extra, bônus a mais pra sua missão. Outras são médias na classificação social, mas sempre com a reza do vou-me-dar-bem-nem-que-seja-fazendo-neném—de capital—, vou sair dessa mediocridade nem que seja fazendo do meu corpo altar da mais agressiva e boçal sensualidade envernizada com duas ou mais camadas de intelectualidade universitária, mente refinadamente sã em corpo gostosão. Vou mudar de vida pobre ou classe mediazinha cheia de dignidade normal tipo resto de luxúria e sobra do que os muito ricos têm (não pequenos ou médios ricos, mas bilionários, donos do planeta, gente com mais de dez bilhões de dólares na conta), gente que realmente importa, e não a multidão de zumbis esforçados na gincana social cheia de algemas psicológicas, cheia de implantadas tradições depauperadas. Zumbis vagando por ruínas da História achando que são gente só porque têm sentimentos, assim como outras fantasmagorias que habitam o a assim chamado cérebro. Pra elas, tudo de certa forma já foi feito, e a História navega em velocidade de cruzeiro festivo, cheia de atualizações do que já foi sentido, feito, inventado. Como elas gostam de dizer, são meras customizações dos básicos instintos, dos hábitos, amores e necessidades desde sempre. É preciso mudar pra que tudo continue na mesma. Achando que são gente só porque... Zumbis atravessando ruínas, imersos na semiescravidão do mundo cão da sobrevivência, não importa em qual divisão. Na divisão especial de multimilionários razoavelmente estabilizados, quase sócios daquela elite de mais de dez bi, mas que, mesmo assim, podem, como qualquer um, cair do seu pedestal diante de algum tsunami econômico. Primeira divisão mais ou menos rica, a segunda classe plenamente média, a terceira classe meio c ou d, enfim, o pessoal do crédito como dignidade de inclusão, inserção no mercadinho da esquina mundial, são os existencialistas pré-pagos. O crédito preceda a essência. Da quarta divisão pra baixo é tudo semipré-pago cheio de superinformalidade de teor temporário em ritmo de terceirização, quarteirização, e com subautonomias de bicho solto sem muitos vínculos precisos, sejam eles de emprego, de família, ou de identidade psicológica ou documental. Em Favelost, toda essa multidão fica à vontade devido à enorme oferta de ocupações e intervalos cheios de entretenimento entre as ocupações. Tudo é muito rápido em Favelost. E as peruas socialites arrivistas, patricinhas rapinantes, gossip girls de cuspe caríssimo, encarnações femininas e bucetílicas da grande cafajeste do hinduísmo emergente, Nanvalinada, filha de Shiva e Kali, segundo os especuladores do comércio de ações místicas. Super gossip girls. Sempre rezam a oração do vou-me-dar-bem. Algumas, realmente psicopatas, de uma carisma totalmente sedutor; outras apenas se vingando da vida ou de si mesmas; outras meras marias-passa-por-cima-das-outras. Maria-champagne, Maria-tatame, Maria-chuteira, Maria-porão (as austríacas ou todas aquelas que são trancadas em porões por anos), Maria-passa-por-cima-das-outras... [...]

FINLAY, Ian Hamilton. The present order is the disorder of the future, impressão foto-litográfica a cores sobre cartão/card: colour photo-lithograh, publ. Wild Hawthorn Press, 18,4 X 20,3 cm, 1983
FINLAY, Ian Hamilton. The present order is the disorder of the future, impressão foto-litográfica a cores sobre cartão/card: colour photo-lithograh, publ. Wild Hawthorn Press, 18,4 X 20,3 cm, 1983
FINLAY, Ian Hamilton. The present order is the disorder of the future, impressão foto-litográfica a cores sobre cartão/card: colour photo-lithograh, publ. Wild Hawthorn Press, 18,4 X 20,3 cm, 1983
FINLAY, Ian Hamilton. The present order is the disorder of the future, impressão foto-litográfica a cores sobre cartão/card: colour photo-lithograh, publ. Wild Hawthorn Press, 18,4 X 20,3 cm, 1983
FISCHLI, Peter, WEISS, David. Der geringste Widerstand (The Point of Least Resistance), 02:22 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1981 
FISCHLI, Peter, WEISS, David. Der geringste Widerstand (The Point of Least Resistance), 02:22 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1981 
FISCHLI, Peter, WEISS, David. Der geringste Widerstand (The Point of Least Resistance), 02:22 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1981 
FISHER, Mark. The slow cancellation of the future, in Ghosts of my life, writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures, Zero Books, 2014. pp. 16-25

It doesn’t feel like the future.

The slow cancelation of the future

Mark Fisher

In his book After The Future, Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi refers to the ‘the slow cancellation of the future [that] got underway in the 1970s and 1980s.’ ‘But when I say “future”’, he elaborates, 

«I am not referring to the direction of time. I am thinking, rather, of the psychological perception, which emerged in the cultural situation of progressive modernity, the cultural expectations that were fabricated during the long period of modern civilization, reaching a peak after the Second World War. These expectations were shaped in the conceptual frameworks of an ever progressing development, albeit through different methodologies: the Hegel-Marxist mythology of Aufhebung and founding of the new totality of Communism; the bourgeois mythology of a linear development of welfare and democracy; the technocratic mythology of the all-encom-passing power of scientific knowledge; and so on.

My generation grew up at the peak of this mythological temporalization, and it is very difficult, maybe impossible, to get rid of it, and look at reality without this kind of temporal lens. I’ll never be able to live in accordance with the new reality, no matter how evident, unmistakable, or even dazzling its social planetary trends. (After The Future, AK Books, 2011, pp18-19)»

Bifo is a generation older than me, but he and I are on the same side of a temporal split here. I, too, will never be able to adjust to the paradoxes of this new situation. The immediate temptation here is to fit what I’m saying into a wearily familiar narrative: it is a matter of the old failing to come to terms with the new, saying it was better in their day. Yet it is just this picture — with its assumption that the young are automatically at the leading edge of cultural change — that is now out of date.

Rather than the old recoiling from the ‘new’ in fear and incomprehension, those whose expectations were formed in an earlier era are more likely to be startled by the sheer persistence of recognisable forms. Nowhere is this clearer than in popular music culture. It was through the mutations of popular music that many of those of us who grew up in the 1960s, 70s and 80s learned to measure the passage of cultural time. But faced with 21st-century music, it is the very sense of future shock which has disappeared. This is quickly established by performing a simple thought experiment. Imagine any record released in the past couple of years being beamed back in time to, say, 1995 and played on the radio. It’s hard to think that it will produce any jolt in the listeners. On the contrary, what would be likely to shock our 1995 audience would be the very recognisability of the sounds: would music really have changed so little in the next 17 years? Contrast this with the rapid turnover of styles between the 1960s and the 90s: play a jungle record from 1993 to someone in 1989 and it would have sounded like something so new that it would have challenged them to rethink what music was, or could be. While 20th-century experimental culture was seized by a recombinatorial delirium, which made it feel as if newness was infinitely available, the 21st century is oppressed by a crushing sense of finitude and exhaustion. It doesn’t feel like the future. Or, alternatively, it doesn’t feel as if the 21st century has started yet. We remain trapped in the 20th century, just as Sapphire and Steel were incarcerated in their roadside café.

The slow cancellation of the future has been accompanied by a deflation of expectations. There can be few who believe that in the coming year a record as great as, say, the Stooges’ Funhouse or Sly Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On will be released. Still less do we expect the kind of ruptures brought about by The Beatles or disco. The feeling of belatedness, of living after the gold rush, is as omnipresent as it is disavowed. Compare the fallow terrain of the current moment with the fecundity of previous periods and you will quickly be accused of ‘nostalgia’. But the reliance of current artists on styles that were established long ago suggests that the current moment is in the grip of a formal nostalgia, of which more shortly.

It is not that nothing happened in the period when the slow cancellation of the future set in. On the contrary, those 30 years have been a time of massive, traumatic change. In the UK, the election of Margaret Thatcher had brought to an end the uneasy compromises of the so-called postwar social consensus. Thatcher’s neoliberal programme in politics was reinforced by a transnational restructuring of the capitalist economy. The shift into so-called Post-Fordism — with globalisation, ubiquitous computerisation and the casualisation of labour — resulted in a complete transformation in the way that work and leisure were organised. In the last 10 to 15 years, meanwhile, the internet and mobile telecommunications technology have altered the texture of everyday experience beyond all recognition. Yet, perhaps because of all this, there’s an increasing sense that culture has lost the ability to grasp and articulate the present. Or it could be that, in one very important sense, there is no present to grasp and articulate any more.

[…] The future didn’t disappear overnight. Berardi’s phrase ‘the slow cancellation of the future’ is so apt because it captures the gradual yet relentless way in which the future has been eroded over the last 30 years. If the late 1970s and early 80s were the moment when the current crisis of cultural temporality could first be felt, it was only during the first decade of the 21st century that what Simon Reynolds calls ‘dyschronia’ has become endemic. This dyschronia, this temporal disjuncture, ought to feel uncanny, yet the predominance of what Reynolds calls ‘retro-mania’ means that it has lost any unheimlich charge: anachronism is now taken for granted. Jameson’s postmodernism — with its tendencies towards retrospection and pastiche — has been naturalised. Take someone like the stupendously successful Adele: although her music is not marketed as retro, there is nothing that marks out her records as belonging to the 21st century either. Like so much contemporary cultural production, Adele’s recordings are saturated with a vague but persistent feeling of the past without recalling any specific historical moment.

Jameson equates the postmodern ‘waning of historicity’ with the ‘cultural logic of late capitalism’, but he says little about why the two are synonymous. Why did the arrival of neoliberal, post-Fordist capitalism lead to a culture of retrospection and pastiche? Perhaps we can venture a couple of provisional conjectures here. The first concerns consumption. Could it be that neoliberal capitalism’s destruction of solidarity and security brought about a compensatory hungering for the well-established and the familiar? Paul Virilio has written of a ‘polar inertia’ that is a kind of effect of and counterweight to the massive speeding up of communication. Virilio’s example is Howard Hughes, living in one hotel room for 15 years, endlessly rewatching Ice Station Zebra. Hughes, once a pioneer in aeronautics, became an early explorer of the existential terrain that cyberspace will open up, where it is no longer necessary to physically move in order to access the whole history of culture. Or, as Berardi has argued, the intensity and precariousness of late capitalist work culture leaves people in a state where they are simultaneously exhausted and overstimulated. The combination of precarious work and digital communications leads to a besieging of attention. In this insomniac, inundated state, Berardi claims, culture becomes de-eroticised. The art of seduction takes too much time, and, according to Berardi, something like Viagra answers not to a biological but to a cultural deficit: desperately short of time, energy and attention, we demand quick fixes. Like another of Berardi’s examples, pornography, retro offers the quick and easy promise of a minimal variation on an already familiar satisfaction.

The other explanation for the link between late capitalism and retrospection centres on production. Despite all its rhetoric of novelty and innovation, neoliberal capitalism has gradually but systematically deprived artists of the resources necessary to produce the new. In the UK, the postwar welfare state and higher education maintenance grants constituted an indirect source of funding for most of the experiments in popular culture between the 1960s and the 80s. The subsequent ideological and practical attack on public services meant that one of the spaces where artists could be sheltered from the pressure to produce something that was immediately successful was severely circumscribed. As public service broadcasting became ‘marketised’, there was an increased tendency to turn out cultural productions that resembled what was already successful. The result of all of this is that the social time available for withdrawing from work and immersing oneself in cultural production drastically declined. If there’s one factor above all else which contributes to cultural conservatism, it is the vast inflation in the cost of rent and mortgages. It’s no accident that the efflorescence of cultural invention in London and New York in the late 1970s and early 80s (in the punk and postpunk scenes) coincided with the availability of squatted and cheap property in those cities. Since then, the decline of social housing, the attacks on squatting, and the delirious rise in property prices have meant that the amount of time and energy available for cultural production has massively diminished. But perhaps it was only with the arrival of digital communicative capitalism that this reached terminal crisis point. Naturally, the besieging of attention described by Berardi applies to producers as much as consumers. Producing the new depends upon certain kinds of withdrawal — from, for instance, sociality as much as from pre-existing cultural forms — but the currently dominant form of socially networked cyberspace, with its endless opportunities for micro-contact and its deluge of YouTube links, has made withdrawal more difficult than ever before. Or, as Simon Reynolds so pithily put it, in recent years, everyday life has sped up, but culture has slowed down.

No matter what the causes for this temporal pathology are, it is clear that no area of Western culture is immune from them. The former redoubts of futurism, such as electronic music, no longer offer escape from formal nostalgia. Music culture is in many ways paradigmatic of the fate of culture under post-Fordist capitalism. At the level of form, music is locked into pastiche and repetition. But its infrastructure has been subject to massive, unpredictable change: the old paradigms of consumption, retail and distribution are disintegrating, with downloading eclipsing the physical object, record shops closing and cover art disappearing.

FLUSSER, Vilém. [1986] On Science, Metaflux Publishing, 2017. pp. 45-51

Our modern forbearers were a bit too successful in rendering all things transparent, and this triumph of reason was to be its downfall. We can now see through all things, and what we see is a background radiation quite unlike the one switched off when the light of reason began to move forward. The radiation we now see gives off more rays than the transcendent one

ON SCIENCE

Vilém Flusser

§ We are about to enter the age of electromagnetism. Microelectronics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and holography are some of the signposts on our path away from a material culture and toward an “immaterial” one in which we will concentrate on the processing of rays rather than on the manipulation of inert, perfidious matter. Electromagnetism is about the oscillation of the particles that constitute the rays. Light is such an oscillation. Electromagnetism, then, is about visible and invisible light. What we are about to enter, then, is the true Age of Light. But before we congratulate ourselves on this feat we should consider the implications contained in this metaphor. § We prefer light to darkness, a Manichæism that manifests itself in numerous images: the Buddha as the enlightened One, the halos surrounding the heads of the Christian saints. We can see what sort of light is involved in those images if we look at an Orthodox Eastern icon. It is the light that comes in from the background, the golden light of transcendence. Not everyone approves of this sort of light; certainly the moderns did not, because it makes things appear so dogmatically, and appearances were not to be trusted. The moderns preferred a different sort of light, one that illuminates the scene from the point of view of the viewer, rendering it transparent. Most of the modern metaphors that deal with light – clarification, enlightenment, reflection – mean the awareness projected by the human subject onto the objective world. But we are no longer moderns, and as postmoderns, we do not trust this beam either. We are after a different sort of radiation. § All the modern metaphors for light may be reduced to this: the “light of reason” is a kind of searchlight that will work only if the area at which it is directed is covered by darkness. Once the background light has been switched off, the scene becomes accessible to the searchlight, which first illuminates the foreground (nature), and then penetrates ever deeper into the background darkness (its invisible substructure). It will bring to light, discover and clarify what hides there. It will discover the wires that link and regulate, the laws of nature. But the searchlight of reason sought the true infrastructure of nature for the purpose of achieving power over it. Thus the metaphor “the light of reason” can be seen as a variation of the mythical themes of Lucifer and Prometheus. It is hard to agree with this identification of the light of reason with the devil, because the dream of that light (truth discovered through science) did not suggest hellfire. But at present, when science no longer searches for truth but for falsification, and when technology results in Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and Chernobyl, in thermonuclear devices and in environmental pollution, we are in a position to taste the Luciferian flavour of the light of reason. 
§ As for the moderns, some of them did not fully trust the light of reason either, because its torch comes equipped with a curious gadget, a metaphorical mirror that reflects the rays of reason back onto reason itself. This is the business of reflection and speculation, or the critique of reason, which clarifies those dark places where the light of reason originates. And those dark places are indeed infernal ones, as we have found out lately. Two different hells are in fact brought forth by the critique of reason: one that is found by formal, or Wittgensteinian, investigations; the other by sexistentialism, or Freudianism. The formal hell shows us that all reasonable statements are either true but meaningless (tautologies of the type “it either rains or it does not rain”), or meaningful but false. The existential hell shows us that reason sits upon an infernal brew of repressed desires. Thus it may be said that reason, with its inbuilt mirror, is bound to destroy itself through a sort of feedback: the more its light advances into the darkness beyond, the more it flickers. Still, this did not prevent our modern predecessors from bearing that light forward. § We can do so no longer. Our modern forbearers were a bit too successful in rendering all things transparent, and this triumph of reason was to be its downfall. We can now see through all things, and what we see is a background radiation quite unlike the one switched off when the light of reason began to move forward. The radiation we now see gives off more rays than the transcendent one, as we may find out if we compare an atomic mushroom cloud to the golden background in a Byzantine painting. But this is not what makes electromagnetic radiation so different from transcendent radiation. 
The difference comes up in two different ways, both of which are uncanny. The background radiation (the electromagnetic field) consists of particles that oscillate, and the light of reason is incapable of clarifying this oscillation; it cannot be switched off, for the light of reason merges with it and has to admit it cannot advance further. What it can do, however, is clarify its own limitation. Thus reason, having discovered radiation, also discovers its own incompetence with regard to it. § But there is more. Neurophysiological research has begun to prove that perception, imagination, sensation, desire, and decision-making can be broken down into chemical and electromagnetic processes in the brain. These processes consist of particles of energy that jump across the intervals, or synapses, between adjacent neurons, which means that the mental processes are in effect a kind of electromagnetic radiation too. This is not merely an empirical, or a theoretical statement. The action of the brain synapse can be simulated in inanimate objects like semiconductors, a simulation that results in artificial intelligence, a form of reason. But no doubt is possible here: this aspect of the light of reason is a background radiation. Such machines calculate, perform logical operations, make decisions, and bring other machines into accord with those decisions, a technological advance which has already begun to have consequences. One is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the products of human and artificial intelligence. Another consequence is that the radical distinction between the mental and the material, between spirit and matter, will become obsolete if it is admitted that both are forms of energy, or radiation. § This is the metaphor that suggests itself to identify this new age: there is an ocean of light, which is partly visible and partly not, and all things are permeated by it. So are we ourselves; our reason is one means by which this ocean of light infuses us. In fact, everything about us, our own bodies, our own minds, are soaked with radiation. The Age of Reason does not know how to understand it all, since the ocean of light is bottomless, and nothing is hidden behind it. Postmodernism is this conundrum of oscillation. It is the play of rays upon rays that we must try and give meaning to if the new Age of Light that we are about to enter is indeed to be a promise of a radiant future.

FOLLIS, Luca, FISH, Adam. Hacker States, The MIT Press. pp.21-27

State hacking is premised on the generation, identification, and maintenance of vulnerabilities it can exploit; whether these vulnerabilities are located in hardware or software, state hacking thrives under and promotes states of digital insecurity.

Hacker States

Luca Follis, Adam Fish

What Is Hacking?
Recent years have seen a remarkable proliferation of hackers and hacking. Life hackers, place hackers, education hackers, business hackers—hackers of all sorts—now join the archetypical computer hacker. Indeed, the cultural meaning of hacking has so broadened that it now encompasses virtually any activity that subverts the conventional way of doing things with digital technologies. In this sense, hacking has become a cognate of disruption, a term that references the challenges networked technology poses to incumbent forms of political, social, and economic organization. Our framing of hackers and hacking draws on the wider cultural significance that hacking has assumed: a set of material and technical practices set in open conflict or opposition with established modes of doing.
According to sociologist Tim Jordan, hacking is a material practice that “creates difference” in computer communications and network technology, and although we reject reducing the hacker to a single “type” among many, in this book we focus on hackers as people who break into software systems. The hacktivists and hackers we describe in the chapters that follow are exfiltrators. That is, individuals involved in the unauthorized access and transfer of data from computers through networks, software, and/or hardware (we also include those that write or design software and code for these same purposes). Exfiltration forces alterations in computers and networks by subverting their routine functioning to provide opportunities for unintended access and illicit use.
We define hacktivism as a digital form of activism that involves the exfiltration of data and code toward explicitly political ends—no matter how loosely framed the latter may be. We understand the mobilization of these alterations in computers and networks as encompassing a wide variety of digitally mediated objectives, including political disruption, dissident support, symbolic protest, active subversion, and radical transparency. Not all hacktivists are exfiltrators, but most of the instances of hacktivism we discuss involve the extraction of data, either by activists or by state agents. At the same time, we do not advance a definitive interpretation of hacking, as the diversity exhibited within this culture has already been amply cataloged. Instead, we focus on the culture that exists where exfiltration, political activism, and state practice intersect.
The politics that animate exfiltration span the political spectrum and can take a right-wing, left-wing, democratic, authoritarian, libertarian, or revolutionary character. Moreover, these affiliations visibly shift over time: progressive hackers may have libertarian moments; they may hack authoritarians and later become proponents of fragile democracies. And not just the ideology is mobile, but the software, code, and exploits they use are on the move as well, often flowing from democracies to dark market capitalists and on to dictators. Over the course of our research and fieldwork, we witnessed these ideological transformations, strange bedfellows, and contradictory practices, as well as the use of similar tactics and software by oppositional parties. In other words, the hacker field is fluid by definition, and its politics can appear itinerant or even fickle. This is not unlike other forms of “cultural activism” and “strategic indigeneity”, where communities intentionally place culture into greater relief to advance particular claims or to pursue strategic goals. As anthropologists Luis Felipe R. Murillo and Christopher Kelty note:
There are multiple and intersecting moral and technical orders inhabited by people who self-identify or are identified by peers as hackers—from the underground hacker collectives to “grey hat” security researchers to spam-slinging criminal actors to the hard-core free speech and privacy cryptography defenders; from the diehard Free Software activist to the business-oriented Open Source evangelist; from the uber-cool Northern European design artists to the goofy-but-terrifying Anonymous hackers, and so on.
Elsewhere we term this flexible hacker practice subjectivation and contrast this effort with law enforcement attempts to frame hacker subjectivity through processes of subjection. We characterize the playful deployment of subjectivity in hacker communities as versioning and analyze those instances when hackers “come out”—shed their pseudonymous masks and reveal their actual identities—to add credence and sincerity to a political project. Finally, we note that doxing—that is, the release of personal documents or the forceful exposure of an individual’s identity—is also a tool of radical transparency activism, political disruption, and state repression. The above modes of tactical engagement illustrate hackers’ strategic performance of identity and their entanglement with state practices of categorization and containment [...] the practice of hacking (as well as the ideological performances that are connected to it) intersects with and comes to be bound up in the state’s own tactical adoption of hacking as a resource in the deployment of state power.
Media depictions often portray hackers as technological wizards, high-tech pranksters, or virtual criminals, a view that is often reinforced by the numerous firsthand accounts that appear in the literature. Where scholars have approached hacking from a more theoretical position, they have focused on how hackers interface with the open source community or self-organize impressive political campaigns. Few have explicitly situated hacker practice in the context of state power, although multiple scholars have analyzed and theorized the growing political impact of hacking. Media studies scholar McKenzie Wark, for example, has argued that hackers constituted a novel political, even revolutionary, class, who implicitly challenged state-based representational politics and the commodification of information.

What Is State Hacking?
State hacking is premised on the generation, identification, and maintenance of vulnerabilities it can exploit; whether these vulnerabilities are located in hardware or software, state hacking thrives under and promotes states of digital insecurity. At the same time, the material and offline lives of its citizens are more and more interwoven with the digital; whether one speaks of social media, the internet of things, driverless cars, the automation of work, or critical infrastructure, connected and networked technologies cross into the lives of citizens in intimate and highly specific ways bound up in the (re)production of material, economic, and political life. In this sense, it would be a mistake to characterize the current era of cyber warfare and state hacking as another cold war. True, there are proxy skirmishes, instances of corporate espionage and intelligence spying, as well as robust systems of signals intelligence collection, but such a depiction fails to capture the full impact and potential of state hacking on international and diplomatic relations, digital capitalism, and democratic governance.
Several recent scholarly accounts seek to describe this new geopolitical reality. For example, according to international relations scholar Lucas Kello, hacking technologies are nothing short of revolutionary in terms of their influence on the rational and moral world order. For Kello, the current situation is defined by a stubborn predicament: technologically superior nations that effectively harness hacking technologies to further economic, military, and social objectives remain the most vulnerable entities to these same threats. As a result, geopolitical relations are characterized by a self-perpetuating state of “unpeace”: an ongoing dynamic of mutual aggression and competition among states that remains below the threshold of destruction and violence (i.e., war) but that nonetheless generates harmful disruptions beyond what is tolerable in a state of peaceful competition. Not only does this scramble conventional strategies of defense, but it also undermines and neutralizes the modes of deterrence states traditionally adopted to deal with the aggressions of adversaries. For example, in an analog context, deterrence frameworks combine a mixture of denial and punishment. The former essentially increases the cost to an adversary of using weapons (e.g., arms control treaties or the erection of defensive perimeters like antiballistic missile defense systems), while the latter works by threatening equivalent, severe penalties in the case of attack. Yet for a host of reasons, including the difficulties with attributing attacks, the problems with identifying an attack in real time and anticipating its impact, as well as issues with quantifying its effects (in terms of determining a proportionate response), traditional deterrence approaches do not work when applied to the cyber realm.
A similar point is made by New York Times reporters David Sanger and Robertson Dean (2018), who describe how cyber conflict revolutionizes the conduct of war and transforms geopolitical relations. For Sanger and Dean, much like Kello, conventional threat and escalation scenarios developed during an era when nuclear weapons were states’ primary concerns do not fit the contemporary situation. Moreover, the fact that much of this state-sponsored hacking takes place under the rubric of national security (and is thus shrouded in secrecy) also greatly hampers the ability of states to develop new, realistic codes of conduct and effective response scenarios. Despite this, it is particularly important to address and debate these questions now while they remain visible, because in the near future, much of this state hacking activity will likely become automated. Artificial intelligence will significantly quicken the potential for escalation and response; humans will struggle to intervene effectively in scenarios when the situation becomes irrevocably escalated. Sanger and Dean’s solution, much like Kello’s, is nonstate directed. They argue that the computer and software industry should take the lead by drafting and enlisting state support for a Digital Geneva Convention along the lines of what has been adopted for conventional weapons.

FUNDACIÓN PATRIMONIO FÍLMICO COLOMBIANO. Imágenes de la toma del Palacio de Justicia, TV, 1985
FUNDACIÓN PATRIMONIO FÍLMICO COLOMBIANO. Imágenes de la toma del Palacio de Justicia, TV, 1985
FUNDACIÓN PATRIMONIO FÍLMICO COLOMBIANO. Imágenes de la toma del Palacio de Justicia, TV, 1985
GAMBONI, Dario. The Destruction of Art, Reaktion Books, 1997. pp.13-23

'beauty offends inferior beings who are conscious of their inferiority'

The Destruction of Art

Dario Gamboni

1. Theories and Methods

As has been noticed by those few authors who have dealt at some length with iconoclasm, the destruction of art is a subject that most art historians prefer to ignore: Louis Réau saw it as a kind of taboo; Peter Moritz Pickshaus as a 'non- theme'. David Freedberg, who considered that 'in this case lack of interest is the same as repression', explained that this was because iconoclasm 'sears away any lingering notion that we may still have of the possibility of an idealistic or internally formalist basis for the history of art', that is, the belief in an absolute autonomy of art (which, as we shall see, benefited much from iconoclasm)1.

Images of iconoclasm

The sparse historiography on the subject that does exist belongs to the richer history of the condemnation of iconoclasm, a subject that has been explored even less, but can be traced in images as well as in texts.2 In Byzantium, iconoclasts were typically denounced as blasphemers, whose violence against religious imagery struck at the sacred prototype (illus. 3). But by the Reformation they tended to be exposed as ignorant as well as brutal, and art, just as much as religion, was seen to be their victim. The threat they represented thus played a negative but necessary part in kunstkamer paintings, programmatic representations of rooms displaying art, antiquities and natural curiosities painted by Flemish artists following the late sixteenth-century revolt of the Netherlands and the concurrent iconoclastic violence: several of these works include gesticulating figures with donkeys' ears or faces derived from allegories of Ignorance — menacing or destroying pictures with their clubs.3 

Ignorance is a key concept in the stigmatization of iconoclasm. Encouragement of the arts, a feature of enlightened government, is presumed to dissipate the ignorance that fosters the destruction of art. Iconoclasts are presented as blind not only to the value of what they destroy, but to the very meaning of acts they perform. Goya has supplied a striking expression of this idea (illus. 1). A man with his eyes shut tight is balanced precariously on a ladder, still waving the pickaxe he has just used to smash a bust; the caption reads: ‘He doesn't know what he's doing.' Goya probably had in mind attacks directed against liberal institutions (represented by the smashed allegorical sculpture) rather than against art4, but the opposition between destructive ignorance and creative enlightenment is the same. In his History of the Revolt of the Netherlands, written shortly before the French Revolution, Schiller attributed iconoclasm to the lowest sort of people caught up in riotous situations.5 Similar arguments were used by the Revolutionary defenders of the artistic heritage of the Ancien Régime, and the term 'vandalism' was coined to serve that end. 

[...]

His [Louis Réau's] political ideal was obviously a stable hierarchic society in which the 'base Instincts of the crowd' could be kept under control and where a high culture enjoyed the discriminating support and protection of the knowing and powerful. Not surprisingly, the 'vandalism' of the French Revolution is given pride (or better, shame) of place in his 'interminable obituary', although none of the governments that followed is exempted from his reproaches.6 Réau's polemical and pedagogical stance makes his 'history' an heir to the pamphlets by authors like Abbé Grégoire and Montalembert, who aimed at 'inflicting publicity' on the persons or institutions deemed responsible for destruction, 'in order to mark out the guilty ... and to caution ceaselessly the good citizens against errors of this kind'7

At the opposite end, both theoretically and politically, is an equally important but incomparably more useful book, the collection of essays Martin Warnke edited in 1973 that bears the generalizing title Bildersturm (iconoclasm). This anthology was the result of the critical questioning of the idea of the autonomy of art in the context of the Ulmer Verein für Kunstwissenschaft, a radical university institution founded in West Germany in 1968. In his introduction Warnke stated that the authors' common point of departure was the search for the historical roots of the idea, according to which any critical approach towards art amounted to a kind of 'iconoclasm'.8 In a study of the ‘wars of images from late Antiquity to the Hussite revolution' that was published two years later, Horst Bredekamp treated art as a 'medium of social conflicts' and saw their methodological value in the way they revealed how far what we consider retrospectively as pure 'art' had historically possessed other functions and significances.9 The war of reviews that followed these two books demonstrated that central issues were at stake.10
In a first attempt at a general history of the destruction of art, published in 1915, the Hungarian historian Julius von Végh ascribed the relevance of his book to art as culture, or a part of culture, rather than to art as such.1

[...]

English, like most European languages, has two terms to describe the kinds of destruction with which we are concerned: 'iconoclasm' and 'vandalism'. Their perpetrators can be correspondingly identified as 'iconoclasts' or 'vandals'. [...] Both terms have witnessed an important widening of their semantic field. 'Iconoclasm' grew from the destruction of religious images and opposition to the religious use of images to, literally, the destruction of, and opposition to, any images or works of art and, metaphorically, the 'attacking or overthrow of venerated institutions and cherished beliefs, regarded as fallacious or superstitious' (sometimes replaced in the latter sense in English by 'radical').12 'Vandalism' went from meaning the destruction of works of art and monuments to that of any objects whatever, insofar as the effect could be denounced as a 'barbarous, ignorant, or inartistic treatment' devoid of meaning.13 Indeed, the reckoned presence or absence of a motive is the main reason today for the choice of one or the other term. [...] Whereas the use of 'iconoclasm' and 'iconoclast' is compatible with neutrality and even — at least in the metaphorical sense — with approval, 'vandalism' and 'vandal' are always stigmatizing, and imply blindness, ignorance, stupidity, baseness or lack of taste. In common usage this discrimination may often be unconscious and amount to a social distinction, comparable to the one between 'eroticism' and 'pornography'. (Alain Robbe-Grillet is said to have declared, with reference to the cinema, that 'pornography is the others' eroticism'.) But the same distinction remains true (and may not always be conscious) in scientific usage, as John Phillips neatly expressed when he wrote that 'iconoclasm for the iconoclasts was an act far different from our later understanding of it as vandalism'.14 The polemical and performative character of 'vandalism' could not have been more plainly stated than in Grégoire's proud explanation. The word aimed at excluding the 'vandal' and at menacing potential 'vandals' with exclusion — from the community of civilized mankind, or more specifically, according to circumstances, of neighbourhood, city, nation, etc. Réau chose to write a history of 'vandalism' (and not of 'iconoclasm') for precisely this reason, and explained that 'any attack whatever against a work of beauty ... deserves the excommunication' implied by this term.15

Needless to say, the origin and connotations of 'vandalism' make it particularly inappropriate for use in a scientific context aiming at interpretation. Moreover, even if the wilful degradation of works of art may in some cases have something in common with assaults on telephone booths, the broadening of the field of destruction attributed to 'vandalism' tends to refute the likelihood that the destruction of art is a specific phenomenon. In contrast, 'iconoclasm' and 'iconoclast' have the advantage of implying that the actions or attitudes thus designated have a meaning. Unfortunately, the term presents other difficulties. Even if a religious character regarding the images attacked or rejected is no longer automatically assumed, 'iconoclasm' does raise the expectation that attack and rejection concern images (Réau justified his rejection of it by stressing the importance of architecture), and the signified rather than the signifier; these limitations are lifted in the metaphorical sense, but it suppresses altogether artefacts as targets and introduces another limitation by regarding the critique and rejection of traditional authorities and norms only, and not that of anti-traditional manifestations.. 

[...] 

And, of course, there is the question of 'art for whom?' One may, for example, destroy something that one reckons to be bad art, or not art at all, that others do consider to be art, even good art; and do so because one resents this difference of opinion or for reasons that have nothing to do with it. More generally it may be wondered whether art is being destroyed 'as such', which depends again on definition and agreement. Obviously, as modern art has stretched the question of what art is or can be to every limit and paradox, the predicate art in the destruction of art cannot be but a chronic oversimplification. 

[...]

Réau, who did not hesitate to take sides, was particularly — though indirectly — illuminating when he stated that 'beauty offends inferior beings who are conscious of their inferiority', for this uneuphemized violence did express something of the violence that the culture he intended to defend could exert or represent. 

The question of power forms the basis of another distinction, one much simpler and more useful, which has been defined in various ways by several authors but most forcefully by Warnke. It is the distinction between iconoclasms 'from above' and 'from below'. Warnke noticed that the former, corresponding to the interests of those in power, tended to lead to a replacement of what they destroy by new symbols and to the prohibition of further destruction, whereas the latter, springing from political impotence, mostly failed to establish new symbols of their own. Taking a critical stance towards his discipline, he added that by ending in surpassing the aesthetic quality of eliminated works, the 'iconoclasms from above' managed to be celebrated among the great dates of the history of art, while 'iconoclasms from below' were denounced as 'blind vandalism': iconoclasm thus became 'a privilege for victors, and a sacrilege for the vanquished'.16 A case in point, cited by Warnke was the destruction in Rome under Pope Julius II of Old St Peter's and the construction of New St Peter's. On the side of the oppressed, one could mention the revolution of 1848 in Lyon, where the workers renounced pulling down the statue of Louis XIV when the Latin inscription to the glory of that monarch was replaced by one in French honouring the sculptor and the Republic, but erected an enormous effigy of the 'Peuple souverain' as an armed sans-culotte treading on the monarch's crown and asking, by means of inscription, 'Who will dare pick it up?'. It proved easy to displace rapidly and eventually eliminate this fragile monument.17 Réau was original in stressing the destructive component of 'iconoclasms from above', but he made no mystery of his taking the final aesthetic result into account in order to evaluate, in the name of posterity, the actions of individuals, movements or regimes. Needless to say, for him, 'the mob is always vandalistic'.18

[...] Restricting himself to cases of power shifts where dominant institutions were primarily animated by their objections to extant images, Olivier Christin made useful observations about typical ways of destruction 'from above' and 'from below': whereas the latter tend to make a partial and brutally executed assault visible in order to symbolize the new situation, the former prefer total elimination and seek to impose a systematic and legal procedure regulating the listing of the objects concerned, their treatment and the reuse of materials.19

L. Réau, Histoire du Vandalisme. Les monuments détruits de l’art français (Paris, 1959), I, p.7 (augmented edn, ed. Michel Fleury and Guy-Michel Leproux, Paris, 1994, p.1); P. M. Pickshaus, Kunstzerstörer: Fallstudien: Tatmotive und Psychogramme (Reinbeck beiHamburg, 1988), p.10; D. Freedberg, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of the Response (Chicago and London, 1989), p.421; D. Freedberg, Iconoclasts and Their Motives (Maarssen, 1985), p.7.
Martin Warnke, 'Von der Gewalt gegen Kunst zur Gewalt der Kunst. Die Stellungnahmen von Schiller und Kleist zum Bildersturm', in Bildersturm: Die Zerstörung des Kunstwerks, ed. M. Warnke (Frankfurt, 1977), pp. 99—107; M. Warnke, 'Ansichten über Bilderstürmer: zur Wertbestimmung des Bildersturms in der Neuzeit', in Bilder und Bildersturm im Spätmittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Bob Scribner (Wiesbaden, 1990; Wolfenbütteler Forschungen, XLVI), pp. 299—325.
La peinture dans la peinture, exhibition catalogue by Pierre Georgel and Anne-Marie Lecoq: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon (1983), pp. 209—10; Victor I. Stoichita, ‘"Cabinets d'amateurs" et scénario iconoclaste dans la peinture anversoise du XVIIe siécle' in Les iconoclasmes, ed. Sergiusz Michalski (Strasbourg, Société Alsacienne pour le Développement de l'Histoire de l'Art, 1992; XXVIIe congrès international d'histoire de l'art du CIHA, L'art et les révolutions, Actes, Section 4), pp. 171—92; V. I. Stoichita, L'instauration du tableau. Métapeinture à l'aube des Temps modernes (Paris, 1993), pp. 131— 43; Gary Schwartz, 'Love in the Kunstkamer: Additions to the Work of Guillam van Haecht (1593—1637)', Tableau (Summer 1996), pp. 43—52.
Goya and the Spirit of Enlightenment, exhibition catalogue by Alfonso E. Pérez Sánchez and Eleanor A. Sayre: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museo del Prado, Madrid; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Boston, 1989), pp.278 80.
Warnke, 'Von der Gewalt gegen Kunst zur Gewalt der Kunst .
Réau, Histoire du Vandalisme, I, p.242 (1994 edn, p.310).
Henri Grégoire, Second rapport sur le vandalisme (Paris, 8 brumaire an III, 1794), p.2; Charles de Montalembert, 'Du vandalisme en France. Lettre à M. Victor Hugo', Revue des Deux Mondes, n.s. I (1833), pp. 477—524 (p. 494).
M. Warnke, 'Bilderstürme’, in Bildersturm, p. 7.
H. Bredekamp, Kunst als Medium sozialer Konflikte: Bilderkämpfe von der Spätantike bis zur Hussitenrevolution (Frankfurt, 1975), pp. 12—13.
10 Reiner Haussherr, review of Bildersturm, in Kunstchronik, XXVII (1974), pp. 359-69; M. Warnke, 'Rückruf', Kritische Berichte, IV/4 (1976), pp. 55-8; Peter Schreiner, review of Kunst als Medium sozialer Konflikte, in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte, XXXIX (1976), pp.239-44; Wolfgang Grape, Ánmerkungen zu H. Bredekamp [...] und zu der rezension des Buches von Peter Schreiner [... ]', Kritische Berichte, v / I (1977), pp.20-34.
11 J. von Végh, Die Bilderstürmer: Eine kulturgeschichtliche Studie (Strassburg, 1915), pp. 2—3. Veigh’s book, of which a Hungarian edition also appeared in Budapest in 1915, was ready for publication as the First World War broke out.
12 The Oxford English Dictionary, VII, p. 609.
13 Ibid., XIX, p. 425.
14 J. Phillips, The Reformation of Images: Destruction of Art in England, 1535-1660 (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 1973), p. x.
15 Réau, Histoire du vandalisme, I, p. 16 (1994 edn, p. 13).
16 Warnke, 'Bilderstürme', p. 11.
17 André Chagny, 'Histoires de statues sous la Seconde République', Echo Liberté [Lyon] (29 September 1959); Gilbert Gardes, Lyon I 'art et la ville. Architecture— décor (Paris, 1988), II, pp. 189—90 (with reproduction of an engraving of J.-B. Lépind's Statue).
18 Réau, Histoiredu vandalisme, pp. 46, 103, 139—40, above all 378 (1994 edn, pp. 52, 128, 180, 498). Compare Végh, Bilderstürmer, p. 122; Végh excludes in principle 'embellishing vandalism' from his Study but is not always consistent (pp. 5, 131).
19 O. Christin, 'Les iconoclastes savent-ils ce qu'ils font? Rouen, 1562—1793', in Révolution française et 'vandahsme révolutionnaire', ed. Simone Bernard-Griffiths, Marie-Claude Chemin and Jean Erhard (Paris, 1992), pp. 353—65 (pp. 355—7).

GERSHT, Ori. The Forest, 02:28 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2005
GERSHT, Ori. The Forest, 02:28 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2005
GERSHT, Ori. The Forest, 02:28 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2005
GERT, Valeska. Der Todd, 01:29 mins., 1925
GERT, Valeska. Der Todd, 01:29 mins., 1925
GERT, Valeska. Der Todd, 01:29 mins., 1925
GINSBERG, Allen. Hum Bomb, in V/A, Utopia Americana, New Tone Records, 03:02 mins., 1992
GINSBERG, Allen. Hum Bomb, in V/A, Utopia Americana, New Tone Records, 03:02 mins., 1992
GINZBURG, Carlo. [1989] Ecstasies, Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath, trad./transl. Raymond Rosenthal, Pantheon Books, 1991. pp. 35-52

Amidst the fear of a physical and metaphorical contagion, the ghettos, the infamous badges on clothes, were no longer sufficient

Ecstasies

Carlo Ginzburg

2. ... The most common and reliable opinion (verior), according to the chronicles we are considering, fixed responsibility on the King of Granada. Unable to defeat the Christians by force, he had decided to dispose of them by cunning. He had then turned to the Jews, offering them an enormous amount of money to hatch a criminal scheme to destroy Christianity. The Jews had accepted, but had stated that they could not act directly because they were under too much suspicion: it would be better to entrust the execution of the scheme to the lepers, who, being in continuous contact with the Christians, would be able to poison the waters without difficulty. The Jews had then assembled a number of the lepers’ leaders and, with the devil's help, had induced them to abjure their faith and grind the consecrated host into the pestilential potions. Then the lepers’ leaders had summoned four councils in which the representatives of all the leper colonies (except for two in England) had participated. To the assembled lepers, at the instigation of the Jews, who were in turn inspired by the devil, they had addressed the following speech: the Christians treat you like vile and abject people; we should bring about their deaths or infect them with leprosy; if all were equal (uniformes) no-one would despise his fellow. 

This criminal plan had been received with great approval and relayed to the lepers in the various provinces, together with the promise of kingdoms, principalities and counties that would become vacant after the death or infection of the healthy. [...] But the conspiracy had been discovered; [...]

In Paris the guilty Jews were burnt and the others exiled in perpetuity; the richest were forced to turn over their wealth to the treasury, to the tune of 150,000 livres.1 In Flanders the lepers (and possibly the Jews as well) were initially incarcerated and then freed — ‘to the great displeasure of many’, the chronicler notes.2 

[...]

3. ... The first rumours about the poisoning of the water, immediately followed by accusations, imprisonments and burnings at the stake, had begun in Périgord on Holy Thursday (16 April) of 1321. They had rapidly spread throughout Aquitaine. The previous year the region had been infested by bands of so-called Pastoureaux, who originated in Paris: troops of boys and girls about fifteen years old, barefoot and in rags, who marched along bearing a banner marked with the cross. They said they wanted to embark for the Holy Land. They had neither leaders, nor weapons, nor money. Many people received them benevolently and fed them for the love of God. When they reached Aquitaine, in order ‘to gain popular favour’, Bernard Gui states, the Pastoureaux began to try to baptize the Jews by force. Those who refused were robbed or killed. The authorities were concerned. At Carcassonne, for example, they intervened in defence of the Jews inasmuch as they were ‘servants of the king’. Many people, however, (this is Jean de Saint-Victor writing) approved of the Pastoureaux's violent actions, saying that ‘one mustn't oppose the faithful in the name of the heathen’.

It was precisely from Carcassonne, probably towards the end of 1320 (and at any rate before February 1321), that the consuls of the seneschal had sent a protest to the king. Abuses and excesses of various kinds were disturbing the life of the cities under their rule. Royal officials' violation of the prerogatives of the local courts forced the parties in dispute to go to Paris, at great inconvenience and expense, for the trials; what's more, they forced the merchants to pay heavy fines, unjustly accusing them of usury. Not content with making usurious loans, the Jews prostituted and violated the wives of the poor Christians who were unable to pay the interest; they reviled the consecrated host, which they received from the hands of the lepers and other Christians; they were guilty of every kind of monstrosity in defiance of God and the faith. The consuls pleaded that the Jews be driven from the kingdom, so that faithful Christians would not be punished for their nefarious sins. Moreover, they denounced the vile intentions of the lepers, who were preparing to spread the disease by which they were afflicted ‘with poisons, pestilential potions, and sorceries’. In order to prevent the spread of the contagion, the consuls suggested that the king segregate the lepers in buildings set aside for the purpose, separating males from females. They declared themselves ready to provide for the maintenance of those secluded and the administration of the revenues, the alms and pious inheritances that they would receive now or in the future. In this fashion, they concluded, the lepers would at last cease to multiply.

4. To get rid of the credit monopoly exercised by the Jews once and for all; to administer the rich revenues enjoyed by the leper asylums — these aims, set out by the Carcassonne consuls, were declared with brutal clarity in their protest to the king. Only a few months before the same consuls had tried to defend the Jewish communities against the plunder and massacres perpetrated by the bands of Pastoureaux. This had probably not been a gesture of disinterested humanity. For behind the list of complaints sent to the King of France, we perceive the clear determination of an aggressive mercantile class, anxious to sweep away competition — that of the Jews — now deemed intolerable. It is possible that the (doomed) plans for administrative centralization implemented by Philip the Fifth precisely during those months, helped to exacerbate the tensions. The centre's attempt to weaken local identities fed hostility in the periphery toward the least protected groups.

[...] The terrible famine of 1315-18 had certainly intensified hostility towards Jewish money lenders.3 And elsewhere the tensions provoked at all social levels by the establishment of a monetary economy had for some time tended to find an outlet in anti-Semitic hatred. In many parts of Europe the Jews were accused of poisoning wells, of practising ritual murders, of profaning the consecrated host.

[...]

5. ... The Lateran Council of 1215 had ordered the Jews to carry on their clothes a disk, usually yellow, red or green. For their part the lepers had to wear special clothes: a grey or (more rarely) black cloak, a scarlet cap and hood, and sometimes a wooden rattle (cliquette). These identification marks had been extended to cagots or ‘white lepers’ (assimilated to the Jews in Brittany), who were otherwise commonly distinguished from the healthy only by the absence of ear lobes and bad breath: the Council of Nogaret (1290) decreed that they must carry a red badge on the chest or on a shoulder. The imposition of identifying marks on Jews and lepers so that they could be immediately recognized, decided upon by the Council of Marciac (1330), indicates the extent to which a common stigma of infamy now attached to both groups. ‘Beware of the friendship of a lunatic, of a Jew or of a leper’, read an inscription placed over the door of the Parisian cemetery of the Holy Innocents. [...]

But toward the end of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century, their position as marginal beings was transformed into segregation. The ghettos rose little by little throughout Europe, initially opted for by the Jewish communities themselves to ward off hostile incursions. And in 1321, with striking parallelism, the lepers were also confined.

[...]

6. ... On 16 April 1321, the day of Holy Thursday, the mayor of Périgueux ordered the lepers previously sheltered in the leper asylums in the vicinity to assemble in one place, separating males from females. The first rumours concerning the poisoning of wells and fountains — spread anonymously — were evidently already circulating. The lepers were interrogated, doubtless tortured. The trials concluded with general executions at the stake (27 April). The representatives of the city of Périgueux left for Tours on 3 May to inform the king of what had happened. But meanwhile, since Easter Day, an investigation into the poisoners had also begun at Isle-sur-Tarn. The interrogations were conducted by a group of citizens from Toulouse, Montauban and Albi. The lepers and cagots of the leper asylums of Isle-sur-Tam, Castelnau de Montmirail, Gaillac, Montauban, and so on, were accused of having scattered poisons and spells (fachilas), were interrogated, and tortured. [...]

News of the lepers' imminent plot had spread from Carcassonne. The guilty were discovered and punished everywhere. Their confessions fuelled the persecution. The news burnt like a fuse, crossing France all the way to the King. 

7. But it was not only the secular authorities that began to act. Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers (later Pope Benedict XII), charges Marc Rivel, his representative, with the task of finding out about the poisons and evil powder (super pocionibus sive factilliis) scattered by the Provençal lepers. Pamiers is very close to Carcassonne, the epicentre of the initiative, whose consuls had been the first to sound the alarm about the venenis et potionibus pestiferis et sortilegiis with which the lepers were preparing to spread the evil spell. And in Pamiers on 4 June, before Rivel appears the accused Guillaume Agassa, head (commendator) of the nearby leper asylum of Lestang. The proceedings against him, which have come down to us in their entirety, give some idea of what the hundreds of trials of lepers conducted throughout France during that summer of 1321, the records of which have been lost or not yet retrieved, were like. [...]

8. It is clear that in his trial torture and threats played a decisive role. Agassa was subjected to torture even prior to the interrogations. But the initial results were disappointing. Agassa denounces a couple of accomplices, sketches the general outlines of the conspiracy, but does not show much imagination. Then, obviously under pressure from the judges, new details gradually emerge: the meeting of the lepers, the promises of the King of Granada and the Sultan of Babylon. Finally, with the third interrogation, the picture is complete. Agassa admits that he has abjured the faith, trampled on the cross, profaned the consecrated host under the threatening gaze of the Moor brandishing his scimitar. In order to convince him to make these confessions, the judges had probably promised to save his life. [...] So, during the course of the trial, little by little Agassa's version is made to coincide with the judges' prior version. If we compare it with the versions circulated by the contemporary chronicles, we see that it is a compromise between the simpler one, which attributed the plot solely to the lepers, and the more complex one, according to which the lepers had been recruited by the Jews, who had in turn acted at the instigation of the King of Granada. In Agassa's confessions we find the latter, accompanied by the Sultan of Babylon; we find the lepers; but the Jews are once again absent. [...]

9. In the ferocious royal edict issued on 21 June in Poitiers, the lepers were once again named as solely responsible for the conspiracy. At first sight this is surprising, because on 11 June riots had broken out in Tours against the Jews, followed by arrests, since they were thought to be accomplices of the leper poisoners.[...] With methods presumably similar to those employed in Agassa's case, the authorities had hastened to extort proof of the Jews' guilt. [...] On 14 or 15 June [1321], the Jewish communities of the kingdom of France had been sentenced to pay an exorbitant fine for crimes of usury: 150,000 livres tournois, to be divided up according to each community's ability to pay. Faced with an outburst of popular anger (orchestrated from above) the representatives of the communities had tried to ward off the worst by yielding to Philip the Fifth's demands for money. [...]

10. It is a long missive sent by Philippe de Valois, Count of Anjou (and later King of France under the name Philip the Sixth) to Pope John XXII. [...] Here is what Philippe de Valois had written. On the Friday after the feast of St John the Baptist (i.e., 26 June) there had been a solar eclipse in the counties of Anjou and of Touraine. During the day, for a period of four hours, the sun had appeared enflamed and red as blood; during the night the moon had been seen covered with spots and black as sackcloth. Such observations (implicit in the text was a reference to Apocalypse 6. 12-13) led people to believe that the end of the world was imminent. There had been earthquakes; fiery spheres had fallen from the heavens, setting fire to the thatched roofs of the houses a dreadful dragon had appeared in the sky, murdering many people with its fetid breath. The next day people began to attack the Jews because of their evil deeds against the Christians. During the search of the house of a Jew named Bananias, in a room that was set apart, inside the casket containing his money and secrets, was found a skin of a ram inscribed with Hebrew characters and sealed. The cord of the seal was crimson-coloured silk. The seal, of purest gold and weighing the equivalent of nineteen Florentine florins, was a most skilfully carved crucifix that represented a monstrous Jew or Saracen atop a ladder leaning against the cross, in the act of defecating on the sweet face of the Saviour.

[...]

11. ... The lengthening of the chain evoked to explain the conspiracy (lepers—Jews—Viceroy of Granada—King of Jerusalem, etc.) served to focus attention on the closest intermediaries. The guilt of the lepers was by now taken for granted, regarded as of secondary importance given the unfolding events. An attempt was being made to kindle a new wave of persecutions against the Jews, and involved turning to the Pope in order to circumvent the King's hesitation. The latter was indirectly criticized in the reference made by Bananias (or rather the person writing on his behalf) to the greed of the Christians, who had preferred to extort ransom from the Jews instead of exterminating them. 

12. To those same days can probably be traced the fabrication of other proofs of the Jews' participation in the plot: two letters on parchment penned by the same hand, accompanied by seals, both in French, followed by an appendix in Latin. The first, by the King of Granada, is addressed to ‘Samson the Jew, son of Elias’; the second, by the King of Tunis, ‘to my brothers and their sons’. The King of Granada stated that he had been informed that Samson had paid the lepers with the money sent him; he recommended that they should be paid well, considering that 115 of them had sworn to play their part. He enjoined them to take the poisons that had already been sent and have them placed in the cisterns, wells and fountains. If the powders were not sufficient, he would send more. ‘We have promised to return the Promised Land to you,’ he wrote, ‘and in that regard we shall keep you up to date.’ [...]

13. ... Philip sent to the seneschals and bailiffs a letter in which he stated that he had ordered ‘the capture of all the Jews in our kingdom’ because of the horrendous crimes committed by them, and especially their 

«participation and complicity in meetings and conspiracies conducted long since by lepers in order to place deadly poisons in wells and fountains and other places ... to bring about the death of the people and subjects of our kingdom.»

[...]

The letter was dated Paris, 26 July; on 6 August it was sent to the seneschal of Carcassonne — the man who, in conjunction with his colleagues from the neighbouring cities, had lit the spark that would set off the conspiracy with his message to the King a few months earlier. Thus the circle was complete. Further copies of the royal letter were sent, inter alia, to the seneschals of Poitou, Limoges, and Toulouse, to the bailiffs of Normandy, Amiens, Orleans, Tours, Mâcon, and the Provost of Paris.

14. So, the sum of 150,000 livres tournois, extorted from the Jews by Philip the Fifth in the middle of June as the price for his silence, served only to delay the persecution for a few weeks. At best it led to the inclusion of the request in the King's letter to the authorities, not to employ torture indiscriminately. A tragic trick, destined to be repeated many times (even in recent times). The trials, followed by the burning, of Jews who had confessed to complicity with the lepers continued for two more years, in tandem with the exaction of the enormous fine (later reduced to 100,000 livres). In the spring or summer of 1323 (in any case before 27 August) Philip the Fifth's successor, Charles the Fourth, expelled the Jews from the kingdom of France.4

15. The seneschal of Carcassonne and the nearby cities had requested the segregation of the lepers and the expulsion of the Jews in the message sent to Philip the Fifth between the end of 1320 and the beginning of 1321. After a little more than two years both had been obtained, thanks to the intervention of the King, the Pope, Philip of Valois (future King of France), Jacques Fournier (future pontiff), Jean Larchevêque, Lord of Parthenay, of the inquisitors, judges, notaries, local political authorities — and, of course, the anonymous mobs that massacred lepers and Jews, ‘without waiting’, as the chronicler wrote, ‘for either provost or bailiff’. Everyone had played his part: some had fabricated the forged proofs of the conspiracy and some had spread them abroad; some had instigated and some had been incited; some had judged, some had tortured, some had killed (according to the rituals prescribed by law or outside them). Given the coincidence between the starting point and the destination of this very rapid series of events, there is little alternative but to conclude that not one, but two conspiracies occurred in France between the spring and summer of 1321. The wave of violence against lepers unleashed by the first conspiracy spread throughout the south and south-west, with an outbreak toward the east, in the area of Lausanne.5 But the wave that followed very shortly after, fuelled by the conspiracy against the Jews, predominantly struck the north and the north-east.6 It is probable that in some places the persecution fell indiscriminately upon both.7

In referring to conspiracy it is not our wish to simplify unduly a plot whose origins were complex. It may very well be that the first accusations arose spontaneously from below. But the rapidity with which the repression spread in an age when news travelled on foot, on muleback, at most on horseback; and the geographical diffusion from the likely epicentre of Carcassonne ... — the combination of these reveals the presence of deliberate and coordinated actions, intended to guide a series of pre-existing tensions in a predetermined direction.  Conspiracy means this, and this alone. To assume the existence of a single coordinating centre, composed of one or more persons, would obviously be absurd and in any case refuted by the delayed and contested emergence of the accusation against the Jews. [...] To characterize the whole episode as an obscure convulsion of the collective mentality which swept up all layers of society is a mystification. Beneath the apparent uniformity of behaviour we detect a field of forces, of varying intensity, now converging, now conflicting.

[...]

17. ... Such accusations were not new. We find them already formulated in the chronicles of the preceding century. Vincent of Beauvais attributed the children's crusade of 1212 to a diabolical plan of the Old Man of the Mountain, leader of the mysterious sect of Assassins, who had promised freedom to two imprisoned clerics provided they bring him all the young boys of France. According to the chronicles of Saint-Denis, the crusade of the Pastoureaux in 1251 was the result of a pact between the Sultan of Babylon and a Hungarian master of magical arts. The latter, having promised, through the power of spells, to bring the Sultan all the young men of France, at the price of four gold bisanti each, had gone to Picardy where he had made a sacrifice to the devil by casting a powder into the air: all the Pastoureaux had followed him, leaving their animals in the fields. On the person of another leader of the same crusade (Matthew Paris added) had been found poisonous powders and letters from the Sultan, written in Arabic and Chaldean, which promised large sums of money in the event of the undertaking being crowned with success. Perhaps someone had interpreted the 1320 crusade of the Pastoureax in the same way; what is not in doubt is that the following year, the same pattern reappears not only in the chronicles, but in the forged letters and the forced confessions extracted from lepers and Jews alike. 

In all these accounts we encounter the fear aroused by the unknown and menacing world that loomed beyond the confines of Christianity. Every disquieting or incomprehensible event was attributed to the infidels' machinations. There is almost always a Muslim sovereign behind it, generally inspired by the devil: the Old Man of the Mountain (Vincent of Beauvais); the Sultan of Babylon (Matthew Paris, Chronicle of Saint-Denis, Agassa's trial); the King of Jerusalem (Bananias' letter); the Kings of Tunis and Granada (Agassa's trial, the apocryphal letters of Mâcon, the continuator of Guillaume of Nangis and his imitators). Directly or indirectly, these characters conspire with isolated figures or with groups, marginal from a geographical or ethnic-religious point of view (the Hungarian master, the Jews), promising them money in exchange for the execution of the plot. The plot is materially executed by other groups, who, because of their age (the children), their social inferiority (the lepers), or both of these reasons (the Pastoureaux) are readily susceptible to false promises of wealth and power. The causal chain can be long or short — in Teruel, for instance, the search for those responsible stops at the Jews (in the first version a Breton filled the role). Certain stages are occasionally omitted (in Agassa's confession the Muslim kings conclude an agreement with the lepers, ignoring the Jews). Others may be repeated (in his letter to Bananias, the King of Jerusalem corrupts the Jews through the King of Granada). In general, however, the chain we have described implies a gradual series of stages that leads from the enemy without to the enemy within, who is his accomplice and, as it were, a manifestation of him — the latter a figure destined for a long and successful career. And if the first was by definition beyond the reach of justice, the second was within reach, waiting to be massacred, imprisoned, tortured, burnt. 

A series of sensational cases in France during the first decades of the fourteenth century helped to spread this fear of conspiracies. Among the many accusations circulated against the order of the Templars was that of having made secret agreements with the Saracens. Guichard, Bishop of Troyes, and Hugues Geraud, Bishop of Cahors, were tried in 1308 and in 1317 on respective charges of having attempted to kill Queen Joan of Navarre and Pope John XXII by magical means.8 These are cases that seem to anticipate on a minor scale the conspiracy attributed some years later to the lepers and Jews. Here for the first time the tremendous potentialities for social purification contained in the conspiratorial schema (every phantasmic plot tends to generate a real one of an inverse nature) were fully exploited. Amidst the fear of a physical and metaphorical contagion, the ghettos, the infamous badges on clothes, were no longer sufficient.

1 In this account I almost exclusively follow the continuator of Guillaume de Nangis, from whom derives, more or less strictly, the chronicle of Saint-Denis, Jean de Saint-Victor and the continuator of the chronicle of Gerard de Frachet. See also the introduction by H. Geraud and G. de Nangis to Chronique latine, Paris 1843, I, pp. XVI ff. On the Chinon episode see also H. Gross, Gallia Judaica, Paris 1897, pp. 577-8, 584--5.
2 Genealogia comitum Flandriae.
3[...] see, in addition, J. Kershaw, ‘The Great Famine and Agrarian Crisis in England 1315-1322’, Past and Present, 59 (May 1973), pp. 3--50, which emphasizes, however, on the basis of M.-J. Larenaudie, ‘Les famines en Languedoc aux XIVe et XVe siècles’ (Annales du Midi, LXIV (1952), p. 37), that the documents for these years do not allude to a famine in the Languedoc. In this Guy Bois has detected the symptom of a profound crisis of the feudal system: cf. The Crisis of Feudalism, Cambridge 1984, pp. 261 ff.
4 Cf. Langlois, art. cit., pp. 26-4-5, 277-8; Blumenkranz, art. cit., p. 38, which on the basis of new documents sets the time of expulsion, traditionally fixed at 1321, later. According to some scholars (among them S.W. Baron) the expulsion of the Jews from France occurred only in 1348: a thesis that is hard to accept (see, however, R. Kohn, ‘Les Juifs de la France du Nord à travers les archives du Parlement de Paris (1359?-1394)’ Revue des études juives, 141, 1982, p. 17).
5 Cf. N. Morard, ‘A propos d'une charte inédite de l'évêque Pierre d'Oron: lépreux brûlés à Lausanne en 1321’, Zeitschriftfar schweizerische Kirchengeschichte, 75 (1981), pp. 231-8: a document of 3 September 1321 complained that the burning of leper poisoners had led to the suspension of alms and annuities to innocent lepers.
6 I. Langmuir insists upon the absence of the accusation of ritual homicide in southern France, where the Jews were more integrated into the social life, in ‘L'absence d'accusation de meurtre rituel à l'Ouest du Rhône’, Cahiers de Fanjeaux, 12 (1977), pp. 235-49, especially p. 247.
7 There is information on the sentencing of lepers as poisoners in the Artois (cf. A. Bourgeois, Lépreux et maladreries du Pas-de-Calais (Xe-XVIIIe siècles), Arras 1972, pp. 68, 256 and 258) in Metz (cf. C. Buvignier, Les maladreries de la Cité de Verdun, 1882, p. 15), and beyond the borders of France, in Flanders (see above, p. 36). A Parisian chronicle mentions persecution of the Jews in Burgundy, Provence and Carcassonne for the same reason (Chronique, p. 59). This information should be rounded out by the kind of analytical study of the entire episode which regrettably has yet to be attempted. Evidence as to the atmosphere produced during the months of persecution is offered by the confession of a friar, Gaufridus de Dimegneyo, who presented himself at the Cistercian monastery of Chalon-sur-Saône asking to be given absolution for a sin he had committed ten years before, when lepers and Jews were sent to the stake by the secular authorities ‘for their sins, as was commonly believed’. Gaufridus had seen a man with a bag full of seeds enter his father's tavern and had denounced him as a poisoner. Tortured, the man had said that he was a thief and that he had with him a sleeping potion; accordingly he had been hung (cf. Grayzel, art. cit., pp. 79-80).
8 On the first case, see Barber, op. cit., p. 179. On the second (which ended at the stake), see Valois, art. cit., pp. 408 ff., which expresses doubts about the guilt of the defendant; and [...] Since this is a conspiracy that involves a small group, the accusations, though unverifiable, are less absurd than those directed at Jews and lepers; but given the predictably stereotyped confessions (solicited by torture) one cannot share Valois' attitude.

GMELIN, Felix. Painting Modernism Black, after Damien Hirst (1994) and Mark Bridger (1994), reconstituição de Away From the Flock (ovelha em formol) de Damien Hirst, após derrame de tinta preta no tanque, por Mark Bridger/reconstitution of Damien Hirst's Away From the Flock (dead sheep in formaldehyde) after pouring of black ink by Mark Bridger, ferro, vidro, água e tinta em estrutura de madeira/iron, glass, water and ink in wooden frame, 175 x 164 x 65 cm, 1996
GMELIN, Felix. Painting Modernism Black, after Damien Hirst (1994) and Mark Bridger (1994), reconstituição de Away From the Flock (ovelha em formol) de Damien Hirst, após derrame de tinta preta no tanque, por Mark Bridger/reconstitution of Damien Hirst's Away From the Flock (dead sheep in formaldehyde) after pouring of black ink by Mark Bridger, ferro, vidro, água e tinta em estrutura de madeira/iron, glass, water and ink in wooden frame, 175 x 164 x 65 cm, 1996
GMELIN, Felix. Painting Modernism Black, after Damien Hirst (1994) and Mark Bridger (1994), reconstituição de Away From the Flock (ovelha em formol) de Damien Hirst, após derrame de tinta preta no tanque, por Mark Bridger/reconstitution of Damien Hirst's Away From the Flock (dead sheep in formaldehyde) after pouring of black ink by Mark Bridger, ferro, vidro, água e tinta em estrutura de madeira/iron, glass, water and ink in wooden frame, 175 x 164 x 65 cm, 1996
GMELIN, Felix. Painting Modernism Black, after Damien Hirst (1994) and Mark Bridger (1994), ferro, vidro, água e tinta em estrutura de madeira/iron, glass, water and ink in wooden frame, 175 x 164 x 65 cm, 1996
GODARD, Jean-Luc. [1973] Moi Je, projet de film, p. -1, in Documents, Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2006. p.218,  
GODARD, Jean-Luc. [1973] Moi Je, projet de film, p. -1, in Documents, Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2006. p.218,  
GODARD, Jean-Luc. [1973] Moi Je, projet de film, p. -1, in Documents, Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2006. p.218,  
GODARD, Jean-Luc. [1973] Moi Je, projet de film, p. -1, in Documents, Editions du Centre Pompidou, 2006. p.218,  
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Film Socialisme, 05:13 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2010
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Film Socialisme, 05:13 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2010
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Film Socialisme, 05:13 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2010
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Le Livre d'Image, 15:08 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2018
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Le Livre d'Image, 15:08 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2018
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Le Livre d'Image, 15:08 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2018
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Weekend, fotograma/film still, 1967
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Weekend, fotograma/film still, 1967
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Weekend, fotograma/film still, 1967
GODARD, Jean-Luc. Weekend, fotograma/film still, 1967
GORZ, André. [1988] Critique of Economic Reason, transl. Gillian Handyside and Chris Turner, Verso, 1989. pp.20-21 

«It is a fact well known... that the manufacturer [worker] who can subsist on three days' work will be idle and drunken the remainder of the week... The poor will never work any more time in general than is necessary just to live and support their weekly debauches... We can fairly aver that a reduction of wages in the woollen manufacture would be a national blessing and advantage, and no real injury to the poor.»

Critique of Economic Reason

André Gorz

The direct agent of the domination by machines of Nature and the auto-poiesis of mankind is a proletarian class of individuals who are 'stunted' and 'crippled', stupefied by their labour, oppressed by hierarchy and dominated by the machinery they serve.
Herein lies the contradiction which is to become the meaning and motor of history: as a result of capitalist rationalization, work ceases to be an individual activity and a submission to basic necessities; but at the precise point at which it is stripped of its limitations and servility to become poiesis, the affirmation of universal strength, it dehumanizes those who perform it.

[...]

To make the cost of labour calculable, it was necessary to make its output calculable as well. It had to be possible to treat it as a quantifiable material unit; in other words, to be able to measure it in itself, as an independent entity, isolated from the individual characteristics and motivations of the worker. But this also implied that the workers would enter the process of production stripped of their personality and individuality, their personal goals and desires, as simple labour power, which  was interchangeable and comparable to that of any other workers and which served goals which were not their own and, moreover, meant nothing to them.

The scientific organization of industrial labour consisted in a constant effort to separate labour, as a quantifiable economic category, from the workers themselves. This effort initially took the form of the mechanization, not of labour, but of the actual workers: that is, it took the form of output targets imposed by the rhythm or rate of work. Indeed, piece-work, which would have been the most economically rational method, proved from the beginning to be impracticable: for workers at the end of eighteenth century, 'work' meant the application of an intuitive know-how1 that was an integral part of a time-honoured rhythm of life, and they would not have dreamt of intensifying and prolonging their efforts in order to earn more: ‘The worker 'did not ask: how much can I earn in a day if I do as much work as possible? but: how much must I work in order to earn the wage, 2½  marks, which I earned before and takes care of my traditional needs?'2

The unwillingness of the workers to do a full day's labour, day after day,  was the principal reason why the first factories went bankrupt. The bourgeoisie put this reluctance down to 'laziness' and 'indolence'. They saw no other means of overcoming this problem than to pay the workers such meagre wages that it was necessary for the latter to do a good ten hours’ toil every day of the week in order to earn enough to survive:

«It is a fact well known... that the manufacturer [worker] who can subsist on three days' work will be idle and drunken the remainder of the week... The poor will never work any more time in general than is necessary just to live and support their weekly debauches... We can fairly aver that a reduction of wages in the woollen manufacture would be a national blessing and advantage, and no real injury to the poor.»3

In order to cover its need for a stable workforce, nascent industry in the end resorted to child labour as being the most practical solution. For as Ure observed, writing of workers from rural or artisanal backgrounds, ‘it is found nearly impossible to convert persons past the age of puberty into useful factory hands'.4 Ure found that after the factory owner's initial struggle to break their habits of nonchalance or idleness, they either spontaneously left his employ or were dismissed by the overseers for lack of attention to their duties.

The economic rationalization of labour did not, therefore, consist merely in making pre-existent productive activities more methodical and better adapted to their object. It was a revolution, a subversion of the way of life, the values, the social relations and relation to Nature, the invention in the full sense of the word of something which had never existed before. Productive activity was cut off from its meaning, its motivations and its object and became simply a means of earning a wage. It ceased to be part of life and became the means of 'earning a living’. Time for working and time for living became disjointed; labour, its tools, its products acquired a reality distinct from that of the worker and were governed by decisions taken by someone else.

1 This is not to say it did not demand an apprenticeship but that this apprenticeship did not demand a formalized standard knowledge.
2 Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, London/Sydney, 1985, p.60
3 J. Smith, ‘Memoirs of Wool’, quoted by Stephen Marglin in André Gorz, ed., The Division of Labour, Hassocks, 1976, p.34.
4 Andrew Ure, Philosophy of Manufacturers, London 1835, p.16, quoted by Marx, Capital Volume 1, Harmondsworth, 1976, p.549.

GOVERNMENT ALPHA. The Place of a Person´s Death, in V/A, Extreme Music from Japan, 02:10 mins., Susan Lawly, 1994
GOVERNMENT ALPHA. The Place of a Person´s Death, in V/A, Extreme Music from Japan, 02:10 mins., Susan Lawly, 1994
GRAHAM, Dan. [1978-88] The Artist as Producer, in Two-Way Mirror Power, Selected Writings by Dan Graham on His Art, MIT Press, 1999. pp.1-9

as the concept of total leisure time turned to boredom, teenagers’ understanding of their freedom led to revolt—or at least pseudo-revolt.

The Artist as Producer

Dan Graham

«Jewish popular tradition credits ... Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel with the creation of a Golem—a creature produced by the magical power of man and taking on human shape ... The Golem was produced by the human mind [as] a reflection of God’ s power ... The Rabbi put a slip of paper with the mystic ... name of God [and] the lump of clay ... Every Sabbath the Rabbi would remove the slip of paper with God’s name. Once he forgot to remove the Name [and] ... the Golem ran amuck. When the Rabbi removed the Name of God from the Golem’s mouth it fell to the ground ... a lifeless mess. It is written that a Golem is but a replica of Adam. As God created Adam from clay and invested him with a spark of intelligence and spiritual life, so the Rabbi had created his Golem.»1

In the early 1950s, a new category, the “teenager,” a class which Karl Marx hadn’t predicted, emerged as a force in America. Because of economic changes in America, teens were not required as a work-force immediately after school; they were more vital as a consuming, a new leisure class to be educated as total consumers if the mass production, assembly-line, automated economy was to continue. They didn’t inherit the Protestant work-ethic of their parents. Like sci-fi stories of robots created with clearly delineated functions by a dominant human order (which, because of their particular view of the world, develop their own, non-human consciousness, and a more advanced critique of the society created for them for their own purposes), the teenage class was both exploited and given the false consciousness of freedom. However, as the concept of total leisure time turned to boredom, teenagers’ understanding of their freedom led to revolt—or at least pseudo-revolt. But adult society must always be tolerant, for the simple fact that teenagers and rock music are helping the economy.

Rock presented a departure from pop music; it was for one “class” alone—the “teenager.” On one hand, it appeared to be totally exploitative, a music controlled (at first) by “out for bucks” adults using black urban blues in order to turn their lyrics into vehicles for publicity-created teenage stars like Hollywood players. In fact, this was only half the truth. Ambiguously built into rock music was the teenager’s awareness that it is a commercialized form; the music and lyrics are and are not to be taken totally at face value. Rock preceded " Pop art" by 15 years in that the listener could discern in its ironies the nature of its compromised position. Although it exploits adolescents as a vast, new consumer market, whose consciousness it tries to form and manipulate through radio, television and films, the industry doesn’t care as long as it can make money out of the music. At the same time, rock expresses the real ideology of adolescent culture.

In 1958 a riot broke out during one of Alan Freed’s highly popular stage shows. Observing the police hassling the audience with unnecessary zeal, Freed responded from the stage: “l guess the police don’t want you kids to have any fun.” Acts like this led to Freed being seen as a dangerous pied piper of youth who, with rock, promoted juvenile delinquency and instigated riot and revolution. Like other radio jockeys, Freed accepted gifts from record companies or artists wishing to promote their act. But although not alone in this practice, Freed was singled out by a Congressional Committee investigating what it called “payola” (plugging records). Because he refused to testify against associates or publicly recant, Freed lost his radio contract. He died of throat cancer a few years later in his late 30s. As parental society repressed their fear of black violence and projected “delinquency” onto their kids, Freed became a scapegoat, accused of exploiting teenagers’ maladjustments to society for his own financial gain.

While teens identified with the black music Freed played in his first Cleveland broadcasts, Freed altered his radio personality to the jive style of black musicians—he helped write, produce and promote both black and white groups he discovered. White teens copied the blacks’ use of double entendre to covertly communicate sexual and political protest. Parents feared rock ‘n’ roll because it precipitated lewd dance and aped the mannerisms of blacks in the northern cities and blacks in tribal Africa revolting against the colonial masters. Rock lyrics such as “Be Bop A Lula” and choruses like “Papa Mu Mu Maw,” suggested a return to the Stone Age.

Rock ideology of “fun” was born of the futility of deferred pleasure. In a world that seemed doomed as the specter of the A-bomb haunted teenagers, sex was no longer linked to family responsibility or reproduction. And rock is based on sex—it elevates the power of male adolescent sexuality. Anti-Oedipal, it mocks parental belief in sexual sublimation, marriage and work as necessary. Rock heroes are unrepentant sinners; rock groups form a new model for communal, non-nuclear families.

Rock stars, who are both real adolescents and fictions of the entertainment world, become models for a new class that refuses to grow up. Rock and adolescence are eternal states. “Teenagers” re-deploy the Victorian idea of childhood as angelic and innocent; they see teen sexuality as innocent and angelic, relating to the purity and ecstasy of sexual feeling divorced from adult repression and responsibility, family and conventional male/female roles. Sex is androgynous; teenagers are “teen angels.”

In the 1960s, rock music merged with “counterculture,” resistance to the Vietnam War and various personal liberation movements. Hippies believed that one died symbolically when one reached 30; their slogan was “Don’ t trust anyone over 30.”

Herbert Marcuse’s writing, in which American “Counterculture” was joined to the politics of Paris, May 1968, and “Situationism,” disputed Freud’ s insistence on the triumph of the “Death Instinct.” This instinct, and the tendency of an organism to seek equilibrium, should be seen more as a Nirvana. Its destructive impulse should be diverted from its use for social control by the liberation of its energies. Along with the Life Energies, in a non-repressive re-sexualization, the genitals used in reproduction would return to the state of “polymorphous perversity” of the child. “Only with the entire body re-eroticized,” argued Marcuse in An Essay on Liberation (1969), “could alienated labor, grounded in the non-genital areas of the body, be overcome.” Aesthetic play would replace the suffering of work. Marcuse was a political anarchist, refusing all established order. His belief was that life could only be lived in the present here and now.

Yippies paralleled the Situationists in France, creating ironic honor and “counter-spectacles” in the heart of corporate America. They distributed free money at the Stock Exchange, washed police cars and scheduled a free concert for police involved in suppressing a race riot in Newark. Abbie Hoffman titled his best-selling book Steal This Book (1971). The paradox was that the media saw it as a “con”—P.R. to gain attention as much for Hoffman as for the “Yippie” Movement, a ploy to penetrate the market. It was Hoffman’s media “star” quality which, in the first place, guaranteed an interested buying public. Thus, Hoffman and his book were defined in terms of both media stereotypes and the publisher’ s economic needs (to promote publishing events by temporarily famous personages).

In the 70s, punk rock questioned the notion of the 60s rock star. It saw the rock star entrenched in corporate rock show biz: “Take a band that’s good, you bust it up and sell 3 times as many records,” noted the Akron, Ohio band, Devo. Punk groups like The Stooges, Pere Ubu, and the Ramones, coming out of the post-Vietnam War disillusionment and urban devastation of American Cities, broke with the position rock performers had been placed in. “What do you think rock and roll is in America,” asked Devo, “besides propaganda for corporate capitalist life? ... Since pop music is definitely a vulgar art form connected with consumerism, the position of any artist, in ‘pop’ entertainment, is really self-contempt.”

Andy Warhol’s films allude to the Hollywood studio production system (his artist’ s studio becomes a film studio), which was built on the marketable personality of the star. In the 30s producers discovered that the most economic and investable business approach to create product identification for their films was via the name brand of the stars. The star system rationalized consumer demand for brand name products while, at the same time, establishing an easy way to rate, distribute and promote films. As a by-product, it eliminated all but the major studios which had the cash to invest in promoting a star. By the early 70s, the power of the studios as film producers had waned; rock music becoming their main source of income. [...]

Brian Epstein, the first rock manager/entrepreneur as couturier, constructed the Beatles image in terms of hair style and dress code: he had them substitute leather jackets with velvet collars for their original “Gene Vincent” look. Epstein used fashion to package the Beatles and to express his desires.

By the late 60s in Britain and America, rock culture had merged with “Pop” art (the Beatles influenced by Richard Hamilton, Velvet Underground produced by Andy Warhol) and “Conceptual” art (Yoko Ono influenced John Lennon, Art and Language doing rock records). Epstein’ s packaging of the Beatles was influenced by “Pop” art’ s strategies: to avoid the media packaging—appropriating them instead—they packaged themselves first. Andy Warhol is an example of “Pop” art as personality. He avoided packaging by the media by packaging himself first, for the media, becoming in turn the self- referring subject of his art, a self-packaged “star.”

The late 60s dreams of arcadian utopia turned, by the 70s, into a bland corporate rock. The MC 5, the Velvet Underground and Patti Smith among other groups turned rock into an urban political weapon. Patti Smith coming from the poetry and art world sees rock as an art form which could encompass poetry, sculpture, painting—as well as its own form of revolutionary politics: “Everybody says art’s dead or sculpture is finished. I don’t care. Rock ‘n’ roll is in its pterodactyl state, and it’s ours.” Rock criticism and the 50s rock revival begins to make rock self-conscious, academicized, a branch of culture with its own aesthetics and history.

Malcolm McLaren, an art student for nine years, was drawn to rock culture in terms of fashion codes. His boutique, Sex, was an experiment to demonstrate how “the incestuousness of English culture ultimately rest[s] upon clothes which conceal a repressed sexuality.”2 McLaren’s anthropologically-inspired media art operations were influenced by art history, Brian Epstein’s ambivalent example, Situationism, and a left-anarchist take on Andy Warhol’s equation of art and business:

«I always found that ..., when I was managing groups, or running a store, or producing a record, or whatever ..., it was best for an artist like me to have a cloak, such as a "business-like" custom. This way ... I could create tremendous chaos under the guise of being business-like and respected.»3

The Sex Pistols, created from the customers of McLaren’s shop, exemplify Warhol’s Idea that everyone will be famous for one hour. The Sex Pistols were also a vehicle through which the corporate entertainment structure could be attacked with humor and destabilizing ploys. With the Pistols and with Bow Wow Wow, McLaren’s strategy was to focus on the economic contradictions within the corporate entity, instead of on the star or the music, and to self- consciously use the media to achieve (media) success, only to expose the machinations of the corporate system. In other words, to use the media to become famous in order to “de-construct” the idea of media-based fame; to show the media for what it really is by forcing its contradictions (and the Pistols’ or Bow Wow Wow’s contradictions as a rock act) into the open. A side effect was the exposure of the relation of the corporate entertainment structure as an economic entity to both its “product” and the media.

«Present to the public a near incompetent rock band that would sing with unprecedented fervor about the politics of nihilism, whatever that was. ... He would wipe out the history of rock ‘n’ roll, making everything that had come before sound effete, compromised and cowardly; start the pop culture story all over again; expose the fragility and repressiveness of welfare state capitalism by eliciting a hail of abuse from those in power.»4

As with art in the late 70s, it is hard to tell whether McLaren’s attitude is cynical or revolutionary. McLaren has been accused of “being a Jewish rag-seller from SoHo,” like Alan Freed, Abbie Hoffman, Brian Epstein and Phil Spector, other urban Jews who were producers. All exploited the media for their own purposes and at the same time used this exploitation to carry revolutionary possibilities to the masses. All (but perhaps Epstein) used humor as a liberating weapon. All of these figures had to deal with the media’s revenge for their earlier exploitation of it. According to McLaren, the reason he made The Great Rock and Roll Swindle was to admit his culpability in the Pistols’ “swindle,” and thereby avoid these potential problems,

«I’ve never allowed myself to be upset by my image. ... That’s why I’ve always been able to survive. ... The [record company men] all dance to the same tune. You don’t have people explaining to you that what you are doing is wrong, because you know at the end of the day they all really would so much want to be doing the same thing. They just can’t, that’s all; they’re just a bit too square.»5

McLaren is now approaching Hollywood movie companies about projects which he could produce. One of these resembles The Great Rock and Roll Swindle—it is the other side of all sentimental documentaries on the history of rock ‘n’ roll told through clips of the original performers. McLaren’s vehicle would be loosely titled “Rock ‘n’ Roll Godfather,” taking 30 years of rock ‘n’ roll, from 1955 to 1985, and seeing it from the point of view of the entrepreneur and the hustler. Looking at what basically began as a fad that turned into a mega-industry, a sort of Robespierre story, privateer versus the corporation, and using it as a background to make a very tough, hard-core gangster movie:

«Set with that background of 30 years, you trace from one guy’s life, from the age of 18 until the age of 50. From the slums of Brooklyn Bel-Aire mansion with a problem ... you do it almost like Godfather II. A being hung out the window—Robert Stickwood ... with his feet—with "Half-way to Paradise" playing in the background. ... I sold that to Disney.»6

McLaren conceived of Bow Wow Wow as a metaphor for Thatcher’s Britain, involving corporate giants versus pirates, romance novel and opera soundtrack: “Sunshine and adventure ... [with] Bluebeard who kidnapped a girl like Annabella. She would be one of those mulatto types a great symbol for this pirate look.”7 Instead of working through the network of independent record companies and distribution systems, a return to craft-based small entrepreneurial or primitive capitalism, McLaren’s approach has been to deal with major companies on their own terms in order to expose the contradictions inherent in the system. Piracy is capitalism’s nostalgic dream. The sense of the individual marketeer as an anarchic pirate lingers in such vernacular phrases as “Captains of Industry.” Bow Wow Wow’s first song, “C-30 C-60 C- 90 Go!” encouraged kids to “pirate”—tape—records off the radio, from libraries, and from record shops, rather than buying them. Ironically, the LP was released by the biggest corporation in the entertainment field, EMI. At that moment, record prices were high (partly due to the artificially manipulated oil shortage of the mid-1970s), while cheap cassette players and blank audio tapes enabled kids to illegally “pirate” music, instead of buying it. Encouraging teenage delinquency is part of rock ‘n’ roll tradition—the music industry feels secure that it can continue to translate youth’s “rebellion” into profit in mass marketing terms. The next step was for EMI to release a very inexpensive Bow Wow Wow cassette, E.P. length, of eight new Bow Wow Wow songs in a cigarette-style flip-top pack.

«Both Bow Wow Wow and a new project, a children’s film based on “Beauty and the Beast,” uses the premise of ... a romantic tale... [to look] through clothing [at] how society [defines] its codes ... and a girl’s [simultaneous] awakening to her sexuality.»8

Bow Wow Wow was concieved when “child nymphets,” like the model Brooke Shields, were being used in fashion and advertising to eroticize childhood in order to extend to a much younger audience the consumption of eroticized products. This had a dual appeal, both to adults’ prurient interest in young girls (not unlike their appeal a century ago to Lewis Carroll), and to children themselves, who are in touch with “sex” through the magic of the television image.

McLaren used Annabella to produce a Situationist “counter-spectacle.” As she is of mixed Burmese and English blood, Annabella could also function as a symbol of Britain’s colonial people coming back to threaten the pure English blood through miscegenation, and the class system by their economic enterprise. In short, Annabella played the same role in British rock as the black “race record” singers did in America in the early 50s.

The British album cover for the first Bow Wow Wow release used a nearly-nude photo of Annabella in the modern form of a fashion photograph of Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass. The photograph shows two male members of the group posed in romantic costumes, reclining next to Annabella, who is nude. A picnic lunch is spread out on the grass next to them. The fourth member of the group is wading in the pond and McLaren is rowing a boat. The way Annabella is pictured in this photograph alludes to a broader iconography of French Romantic painting. Her coy disposition and nudity recall Ingres’s odalisques, while her exotically colored (hence “Oriental”) skin suggests an oblique relation to another well-known painting, Manet’s Olympia. In Olympia, the girlish prostitute is white and is attended by a black serving maid. Both the naked child prostitute and the exotic black servant (wearing highly fashionable, bourgeois clothes) were unsettling images to the middle-class art public of the mid-nineteenth century. In a Britain subconsciously fearful of the loss of “Britishness” through interracial coupling, Annabella presents a similarly unsettling ambiguity. Is she a normal, British girl, or is she exotic and hence erotically desirable? Or, to put it another way, is she a prostitute, or is she a chaste, middle class virgin? In the iconography of the photograph, according to McLaren’s critics, she is represented as a child prostitute.

T. J. Clark writes about Olympia: “Like any society, the empire needed a representation of sex. ... ‘Prostitution,’ wrote the Westminster Review in 1868, ‘is as inseparable from our present marriage customs as the shadow from the substance. They are two sides of the same shield.’ ... The sign of class in Olympia was nakedness. ... Nakedness is a strong sign of class. ... [Critics] were perplexed that Olympia's class was nowhere but in her body.9

In the Bow Wow Wow LP, a Margaret Mead-like anthropological critique of patriarchy is wedded to the light opera or musical review. In a ritual war dance in the song “Hello Daddy (I'll sacrifice you),” inspired by musical comedies such as South Pacific, young Princess Annabella sings of her impending marriage to her brother. This will necessitate the sacrifice, not of her, but of her father, to ensure the success of her queenly reign. Brother/sister incest triumphs over the sacrifice of maidens.

[...]

Since Bow Wow Wow, McLaren seems to be moving from the voyeurism of media spectacle to an autobiographical feeling for his subject(s). With Annabella, McLaren oversaw/staged the spectacle of her erotic blossoming, her child sexuality for us as spectators—and for him. We desired to see, voyeuristically, how female sexuality is produced. In McLaren's first project of 1987, a collaboration with Jeff Beck, he focused on what Freud called the “latency period” before adolescent sexual awareness begins at age thirteen. He intended to “make a very romantic record about courtship, partners, foreplay, being swept off your feet ... a waltz record [based on Strauss] ... with pre-pubescent lyrics. ... It's the romantic period ...that everybody seems to have forgotten ... [but] one always wants to get back to. I've decided to write from that point of view—get my head into being a nine year old—and try to think myself back there.”10

 

1 Gershom Scholem, On The Kabbalah and Its Symbolism (New York: Schocken, 1969).
2 Malcolm McLaren, in conversation with the author.
3 Ibid.
4 Greil Marcus, source unknown.
5 Malcolm McLaren, in conversation with the author.
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 T. J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).
10 Malcolm McLaren, in conversation with the author.



 

GRUPO KRISIS, [1999] Manifesto contra o trabalho, trad. José Paulo Vaz, Antígona, Lisboa, 2003, p.13-14

Um cadáver domina a sociedade – o cadáver do trabalho.

Manifesto Contra o Trabalho

Grupo Krisis

Um cadáver domina a sociedade – o cadáver do trabalho. Todas as potências do globo estão coligadas em defesa desta dominação: o Papa e o Banco Mundial, Tony Blair e Jörg Haider, sindicatos e empresários, ecologistas alemães e socialistas franceses. Todos eles só têm uma palavra na boca: trabalho, trabalho, trabalho.

Quem ainda não desaprendeu de pensar reconhece sem dificuldades a inconsistência desta posição. Porque a sociedade dominada pelo trabalho não vive uma crise transitória, antes está chegada ao seu limite último. Na sequência da revolução microelectrónica, a produção de riqueza desligou-se cada vez mais da utilização da força de trabalho humano – numa escala até há poucas décadas apenas imaginável na ficção científica. Ninguém pode afirmar com seriedade que este processo voltará a parar, e muito menos que possa ser invertido. A venda dessa mercadoria que é a força de trabalho será no século XXI tão promissora como foi no século XX a venda de diligências. Porém, nesta sociedade, quem não consegue vender a sua força de trabalho torna-se «supérfluo» e é atirado para a lixeira social.

Quem não trabalha, não come! Este princípio cínico continua em vigor, hoje mais do que nunca, precisamente porque está a tornar-se irremediavelmente obsoleto. Trata-se de um absurdo: a sociedade, nunca como agora, que o trabalho se tornou supérfluo, se apresentou tanto como uma sociedade organizada em torno do trabalho. Precisamente no momento em que está a morrer, o trabalho revela-se uma potência totalitária que não tolera nenhum outro deus junto de si. Dentro da vida psíquica, dentro dos poros do dia a dia, o trabalho determina os pensamentos e os comportamentos. E ninguém poupa despesas para prolongar artificialmente a vida desse ídolo, o trabalho. O grito paranóico dos que clamam por «emprego» justifica até que se aumente a destruição dos recursos naturais, com resultados há muito conhecidos. Os últimos obstáculos à total comercialização de todas as relações sociais podem ser postos de lado, sem qualquer crítica, na mira de meia dúzia de miseráveis «postos de trabalho». E a ideia de que é melhor ter um trabalho «qualquer» do que não ter nenhum trabalho tornou-se uma profissão de fé universalmente exigida.

Quanto mais se torna claro que a sociedade do trabalho chegou definitivamente ao fim, mais violentamente se recalca este facto na consciência pública.

GUATTARI, Félix. Why Italy?, in Autonomia, trad./transl. John Johnston, Semiotext(e), 1980, pp. 234-237

The Italians of Radio Alice have a beautiful saying: when they are asked what has to be built, they answer that the forces capable of destroying this society surely are capable of building something else, yet that will happen on the way. I have no idea what the future model of society or of relationships will be. I think it's a false problem, the kind of false problem that Marx and Engels tried to avoid. We can only do one thing, and that's to acknowledge the end of a society

Why Italy?

Felix Guattari

We have seen it at work in a spectacular manner in both the U.S.S.R. and China. The Western democratic tradition, the evolution toward Eurocommunism, and the humanism of the socialist parties made us believe that we weren't exposed to that kind of totalitarianism. It's true that the modes of subjection function differently. Yet there is an irreversible tendency pushing the State to exert its power no longer by traditional means of coertion, like the police or army, but also through every means of negotiation in every domain, from the systematic shaping of children in national education to the immense power of the media, particularly television. This State apparatus is highly visible but often powerless on the national level since real decisions are often taken at the international level. It is on the contrary more and more powerful in its miniaturized interventions.

If one's nose is pressed too close to national realities, the impression is that England is very different from the existing regime in Germany, France or Italy. But stepping back, one can see that a certain kind of totalitarianism is being set up which goes along very well with traditional divisions. The machines of production, formation, and reproduction of the work force imply an immense machinery of State power, and then all kinds of cogwheels in politics, unions, education, sports, etc. In this regard I believe the Italian experience to be the most ex­emplary, for there we can see the lines of flight and the road that lies ahead. It doesn't lead to an alternative of the English type, or a French popular front, whether on the left or on the right. It amounts to making sure that the Communist Party, mass organizations, and unions will function at full capacity within a na­tional consensus like the Italian political spectrum. 

A kind of State regime is now being devised which won't require an October revolution or even a Chinese revolution, but will produce the same result: the peo­ple will be controlled by every available means, even if they must be conceded a measure of political and regional diversity.

Why Italy? Because the future of England, France and Germany is Italy [...].

What I'm saying can only be understood in relation to what I have called the molecular revolution. There is a certain level of desire, violence, and revolt which has become impossible and unbearable in societies such as they have developed at both the technological and social level. Let's take the example of terrorism: throughout the history of the Worker's Movement, there have been armed actions and acts of terrorism. There have been enormous discussions throughout the communist movement to put into perspective and to situate armed action. Nowadays it's no longer a theoretical problem, but a problem of the collective sensibility as it has been shaped by the State apparatus with its audiovisual ten­tacles: one doesn't accept any more the idea of death, the idea of violence, the idea of rupture, or even the idea of the unexpected. A general infantilisation now pervades all human relationships. If there's a strike at the National Electric Com­pany, be careful. A code of ethics for the strike must be drawn up. Confrontation in Bologna? Be careful, a full negotiation must be made. And if one senses an aberrant factor, if there's a handful or resistors who don't accept the ethical code, it's a black hole. The most beautiful black hole that's been seen was New York during the black-out. When one can no longer see, anything — a great mass, strange fauna — can loom up out of the dark. 

A certain type of brutality inherited from capitalist societies of the 19th century was symmetrical with a certain truth of desire. Some people could still free themselves. The progressive tightening up by the Marxist worker's movement has put a stop to that. Today you can't desire rupture, you can't desire revolution, or indeed anything which puts in question the framework and values of contem­porary society. Now the control begins in childhood, in the nursery and in school, for everyone must be forced into the dominant redundancies of the system. The repressive societies now being established have two new characteristics: repres­sion is softer, more diffuse, more generalized, but at the same time much more violent. For all who can submit, adapt, and be channeled in, there will be a lessen­ing of police intervention. There will be more and more psychologists, even psychoanalysts, in the police department; there will be more community therapy available; the problems of the individual and of the couple will be talked about everywhere; repression will be more psychologically comprehensive. The work of prostitutes will have to be recognized, there will be a drug advisor on the radio - in short, there will be a general climate of understanding acceptance. But if there are categories and individuals who escape this inclusion, if people at­tempt to question the general system of confinement, then they will be exter­minated like the Black Panthers in the U.S., or their personalities exterminated as it happened with the Red Army Faction in Germany. Skinnerian conditioning will be used all over.

In no way is terrorism specific to Germany and Italy. In three months France could be crawling with Red Brigades. Considering how power and the media operate, how people are cornered, prisoners in these systems of containment, it's no wonder that some become enraged, and start shooting at people's legs or wherever.

The molecular revolution, however, is produced neither on the level of political and traditional union confrontation, nor on the front of different movements like the Women's Movement, the prostitutes, the Gay Liberation Front, etc., which are often only provisional reterritorializations, even forms of compromise with the State power and the different political forces. There is a miniaturization of forms of expression and of forms of struggle, but no reason to think that one can ar­range to meet or wait at a specific place for the molecular revolution to happen.

At a deeper level in contemporary history, it hardly matters anymore whether one lives in Brezhnev's regime of goulags or under Carterism or Berlinguerism, all the powers are intricated in the same bizarre formula. To be sure there will be con­tradictions, confrontations, landslides, class struggles in the traditional sense, even wars, but it's actually society as a whole that is now shifting. It won't simply be another bourgeois or proletarian revolution. The gears effected by this shift are so minute that it will be impossible to determine whether it's a class confronta­tion or a further economic subjugation. I believe that this shift in society, which implies not only a re-arrangement of relationships among humans, but also among organs, machines, functions, signs, and flux, is an intrahuman revolution, not a simple re-ordering of explicit relationships. There have been major revolu­tionary debacles in history before. In the 18th century, ranks, orders, classifica­tions of all kinds suddenly broke down. Today no one or anything seems to be able to semiotize collectively what's happening. Panic creeps in, and people fall back upon State powers more overwhelming and tentacular, ever more manipulative and mystifying. In Italy the Communist Party is often heard saying: let's save Italy, but the more uncertain Italy's future becomes, the more claims there are to save it. 

In Italy there is no tradition of State power, no civic spirit, nothing like the French tradition of centralism and hierarchical responsibility. The situation therefore is more favorable for bringing about a number of shifts. Entire regions will be downgraded because of the restructuring of capitalism on the international scale. As for the "Italian miracle", or the French miracle, we'd better forget about it. 

I am of a generation which really experienced a deadlocked society. Stalinism then was an institution, a wall blocking the horizon to infinity. I now sense an ex­traordinary acceleration in the decomposition of all coordinates. It's a treat just the same. All this has to crumble down, but obviously it won't come from any revolutionary organization. Otherwise you fall back on the most mechanistic utopias of the revolution, the Marxist simplifications: at the end of the road lies victory... It's not the black hole of the 19th century, lots of things have happened since, like the barbarians at the gates. Political superstructures and systems of representation will collapse or crumble down in ridicule and inanity, but there are already an enormous number of things which function, and function remarkably well, whether at the level of science, esthetics, or in the inventiveness of daily life. There is an extraordinary vitality in the machinic processes. 

The Italians of Radio Alice have a beautiful saying: when they are asked what has to be built, they answer that the forces capable of destroying this society surely are capable of building something else, yet that will happen on the way. I have no idea what the future model of society or of relationships will be. I think it's a false problem, the kind of false problem that Marx and Engels tried to avoid. We can only do one thing, and that's to acknowledge the end of a society. The revolu­tionary process won't stem from a rational, Hegelian, or dialectical framework. In­stead it will be a generalized revolution, a conjunction of sexual, relational, esthetic, and scientific revolutions, all making cross-overs, markings, and currents of deterritorialization. 

On the molecular level, things function otherwise. Looking through the glasses of traditional politics, there is nothing left, for example, of the American radical movement. If one changes glasses, if one peers through the microscope, there is another picture altogether. There is a new sensibility, a new way of relating, a new sort of kindness, all very difficult to define. Historians have a hard time deal­ing with these objects - history of tenderness! In all sorts of complex ways, through the history of the feminist movement and the history of homosexuality, through relationships in general, this new type of sensibility is also the revolution. If revolutionary glasses don't allow us to see that, then there is no more revolu­tion, it's all finished.

There will be no more October revolutions.

GUHA, Manabrata. An Exegetical Incursion of the Emergent “Intelligent Battlespace”, 2019. ŠUM#11

While Cixin Liu, in the Death’s End, speculated that “every law of physics has been weaponized”, for us, segueing into the second decade of the 21st century, the matter seems less speculative and more about the degree to which this is becoming a reality.

An Exegetical Incursion of the Emergent “Intelligent Battlespace”

Manabrata Guha

There remains no more time for reflection. No time to strategize. No time to plan an operation. The need for solutions or, more precisely, outcomes is in the here and the now. Bajito y suavecito is out—at least in war. This is not to say that speed has never been at a premium in war. The race to get the better of an adversary—strategically, operationally and cognitively—has been and continues to be a key indicator of military proficiency. But today, things are different. At least in the context of warfare, what we are witnessing is the veritable collapse of time, and this brings in its wake the need to overhaul (yet again!) how we think about war and, more importantly, how to wage war. 
While Cixin Liu, in the Death’s End, speculated that “every law of physics has been weaponized”, for us, segueing into the second decade of the 21st century, the matter seems less speculative and more about the degree to which this is becoming a reality. Take, for example, Marko Peljhan’s exhibit. Among other things, it represents—even if as an “exit strategy”—the weaponization of the physics of sound. Or, consider the AN/SEQ-3/ XN-1 LaWS, a “directed-energy weapon”, which has been installed on the USS Ponce and has been in service since 2014. This weapon-system represents the weaponization of the physics of light. In other words, it is not excessively speculative to say that not only are we well on our way to weaponize every law of physics, but also that of mathematics, biology, and chemistry. The last, of course, was very likely the first science to have been consciously and actively weaponized. After all, since at least 1000 AD, gunpowder has been used in warfare. But the depth and extent of the weaponization currently at play runs deeper than what we can imagine, which compels us to rethink how and in what ways the human, weapons and tactics are being reconfigured, and to what end.
This is not sensationalism. Nor is it a matter only of interest to sci-fi aficionados or fantasists. Rather, it is a serious matter—serious enough for two Chinese military officers in 1999 to reflect on how “[w]ar in the age of technological integration and globalization has eliminated the right of weapons to label war and, with regard to the new starting point, has realigned the relationship of weapons to war.” Indeed, as they go on to point out, “the appearance of new concepts, and particularly new concept of weapons, has gradually blurred the face of war.” The two Chinese officers discussed these and related topics under the rubric of “unrestricted warfare”, which is grounded on the perhaps not unfounded perception that the world-as-such is weaponizable. Our interest in their discussion, however, lies in one particular assertion that they make, namely that the human, weapons and tactical mix is undergoing a transformation due to a change from “fighting the fight that fits one’s weapons” to “making the weapons to fit the fight.” In the context of military affairs, this is important, for it signals a transformation—strategic, operational, tactical and, one dares to say, cognitive—in the context of weapons technology design which, in and of itself, is indicative of a profound change in the human, weapon, tactical mix. It also leads to the posing of a critical question for the military, but also for violent non-military agents—who eventually may or may not be human—namely what kind of fight can be imagined and, consequently, what kind of weapons can be designed to fight that fight?
But before the question regarding “what kind of fight” can be addressed, it is necessary to pay attention to the emergent battlespace wherein such “fights” can be imagined. While in the past, it was not problematic to define the “physical battlespace” in terms of geography, the human element and the machines of war, today we are much less sanguine about such certainties for, if we recall what the Chinese military theorists that we referred to above noted, the world-as-such is weaponizable. What precisely can this mean? If we mean, as the Chinese theorists do, that the world construed as nature—involving climate, vegetation, physical geography, the hydrosphere etc.—can be weaponized, then that does not break any new ground. We have already seen how the US strategic military establishment—using the infamous Agent Orange—conducted Operation Ranch Hand during which they waged a form of “herbicidal warfare” to destroy the foliage of the dense jungles in specific sectors in the Vietnamese theatre of operations. We have also witnessed the conduct of what was known as Operation Popeye—a chemical weather modification effort—between 1967 and 1972 to prolong and intensify the monsoon season over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in a bid to adversely impact North Vietnamese military operations. And, if we include the Human, then we have seen its weaponization too in the form of the “suicide bomber”. But now, in the 21st century, the notion of the weaponization of the world-as-such is assuming a radically different meaning.
To better grasp the implications of the weaponization of the world-as-such, it is necessary to understand it in the context of what we may refer to as the “intelligent battlespace”, which is inspired by and derived, in part, from the development of the so-called “internet of everything”. In brief, the “internet of everything” is underwritten by the logic of Moore’s Law, and benefits from advances that are being made in energy management in addition to the rapid miniaturization that electronic devices are undergoing. Thus, as the per-unit-cost of components falls rapidly, electronic devices are being increasingly liberated from the need to be hardwired with each other as a precondition for them to be able to communicate between themselves. They are also being either appended to or designed into the world-as-such. As a consequence, as Mark Weiser put it: “The most profound technologies are those that [are] disappear[ing]. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” Thus, as Manual Castell’s notion of “network societies” achieves traction and manifests itself as “smart cities”, the “internet of everything” is gradually ensuring that machines are indeed making “computing an integral, invisible part of the way people live their lives.” They are, in effect, becoming a co-constituent of the world-as-such. 
In the military sphere, this transition—even if not seriously reflected upon—is even more intense and it is already difficult to make distinctions between, for example, the computational and non-computational with definitive clarity, particularly where decision-making is concerned, which is often, in the case of warfare, a matter of life and death. In fact, in the military context, this trend is intensifying to the point where even “the soldier”—that last bastion of anthropic fantasy in the context of war and battle—is being increasingly rendered in digital and informational terms. Take, for example, what Bruce Sterling reported over a decade ago:
The First Company of the 12th Armored Cavalry Regiment prepared for … battle … [A]t the Combined Arms and Tactical Training Center (CATTC) in Fort Knox, KY, the troops prepared to enter SIMNET—a virtual war delivered via network links. With the almost Disney-like mimicry typical of SIMNET operations, the warriors were briefed in an actual field command-post … The attacking enemy would advance from west … But the exact enemy tactics were obscured by the fog of war … Bravo Platoon was the first to spot the approaching enemy scouts … Bravo Platoon saw red and yellow impacts spike their hillside landscape, and a vicious crump of high explosives burst from the Perceptronics audio simulators. As the engagement proceeded, dead men began to show up in the CATTC video classroom. Inside the simulators, their vision blocks had gone suddenly blank with the onset of virtual death. Here in CATTC’s virtual Valhalla, however, a large Electrohome video display unit showed a comprehensive overhead map of the entire battlefield … [T]he dead tank crews filed into the classroom and gazed upon the battlefield from a heavenly perspective. They began to talk. They weren’t talking about pixels, polygons, baud-rates, Ethernet lines, or network architecture. They were talking exclusively about fields of fire, and fall-back positions, and radio traffic and indirect artillery strikes. They weren’t discussing “virtual reality” or anything akin to it.
These soldiers were talking war. 
It is worth re-emphasizing Sterling’s last two sentences: “They weren’t discussing ‘virtual reality’ or anything akin to it. These soldiers were talking war.” In other words, to the soldiers the technology that made this “virtual Valhalla” possible, which included the representation of themselves, had already receded, like Weiser had postulated, into the background.
While these developments are dazzling us with the technological virtuosity at work, they are also obscuring a more critical development, which is particularly relevant in the context of the “intelligent battlespace”. In a provocative essay, George Dyson draws our attention to an emergent state of affairs that arguably transcends the current concerns about “artificial intelligence”. In brief, Dyson argues that the real issue at stake is not necessarily the prospect of digital computation eventually running rampant and subjecting the Human to its dictates; rather, he urges us to pay attention to the insidious nature of what he calls “analogue computation”, whose default tendency is to generate “control systems”. Nevertheless, while pointing out that there is no “precise distinction between analogue and digital computing”, Dyson suggests that, generally speaking, “digital computing deals with integers, binary sequences, deterministic logic, and time that is idealized into discrete increments, whereas analogue computing deals with real numbers, nondeterministic logic, and continuous functions, including time as it exists as a continuum in the real world.” In the context of warfare, “control” is a major concern—thus the emphasis on “command and control”. Yet, the “control” that Dyson is referring to may be a kind of a “meta-control” paradigm, within which the strategic-military command and control system is subsumed. This state of affairs is, as of now, dimly recognized by us, and our current focus remains transfixed by an AI paradigm in which we assume digital computation, which has and continues to proliferate like a virus gone mad; it is both a panacea to our problems and a source for new ones. 
In the context of warfare in the 21st century, particularly where the question of what “kind of fight” is possible is concerned, these considerations are important. This is because the fundamental challenge that this emergent “intelligent battlespace” poses—unlike that posed by “intelligent machines”—is not whether it “respects” the dignity of the Human; rather, it is its propensity to reduce the Human into data-sets which serve as its source of nourishment. With the caveat that what precisely we mean by “intelligent” remains murky as of now, it is important to note that this emergent battlespace is not simply the admixture of physical geography and “intelligent machines”; rather, it is, to use Simondon’s term, a “technogeography”, which is gradually acquiring an awareness of itself. And while this “intelligent battlespace” is indeed materialized by digital computation, its operative logic is underwritten by, as Dyson insightfully points out, the “control paradigm” of analogue computation which, for the most part, remains hidden from view.
One way to understand the import of this emergent “control paradigm” would be to consider the case of “targeting”. Targeting—notionally, at any range—is a matter of determining coordinates, principally geographical, of an object of interest. But there are other coordinates that matter too—often critically. Thus, for example, a “target” emits “information” about itself, which can be in the form of thermal, electromagnetic and other kinds of signatures. These “signatures”, which radiate from an object, allow for its identification and “locking” thereby enabling it to be tracked and, if necessary, interdicted. Note, however, that this process of targeting occurs within a “grid of intelligibility” that presumes a “technogeographical” substrate, that is to say a computational backdrop over and against which targets are, in at least two senses of the word, “fixed”. Such considerations have led military theorists like Martin Libicki to observe that “even with stealth, everything ultimately can be found … [and] how sensors of certain minimum discrimination placed close enough together can, at some epsilon, catch anything.” Also notice that as the process by which a “target” is being identified, located and “fixed” is under way, the computational backdrop which facilitates this process recedes into the background, thereby validating, at least to some extent, Weiser’s contention about the most profound technologies receding into the background. But there are also other kinds of signatures that some targets exhibit. These involve biological (prospectively, neurological) and behavioural signatures—principally, of human targets—which are now increasingly registered and tracked digitally. 
One constant theme of this “technogeography” on and within which targets roam is the propensity of the technological substrate to not simply engage in “pattern recognition”, but also to create “patterns of behaviour” or, alternatively, parameters of “acceptable behaviour”, which are deemed indicative of being threatening or non-threatening, which contribute to assessments of whether an entity is a “friend or an enemy”. In the context of the emergent “intelligent battlespace”, a “threat” is any activity and/or presence of an agent or element or even tendency that can undermine the integrity of the mesh of networks that constitute the “intelligent battlespace”. The notion of “threat” is central to the “intelligent battlespace” for, arguably, one way to construe its “intelligence” and sense of “awareness” may be in terms of the fluid and ongoing assessment that it makes of itself in terms of its somatic coherence and integrity which, it should be noted, is constantly in a state of strategic expansion and tactical contraction. In this way, the “intelligent battlespace”, by constantly enhancing its “awareness”, may be said to be operationalizing a “control paradigm” whose “ideal” objective is to maintain and optimise its somatic integrity by managing adversarial elements that may undermine it. One important consequence of this, which is of relevance to us, is that “tactical imagination”—both as an attribute and as a capability—is increasingly subjected to the direct and indirect control exercised by the “intelligent battlespace”. As a pertinent aside, it could thus be said that this characteristic of the “intelligent battlespace” is indicative of its instituting an “organizing principle” as opposed to affirming and/or underwriting a “principle of organization”, which enables it to increasingly evade any external forms of control and direction, thereby acquiring a growing degree of autonomy. 
Given this, the task of imagining “new ways to fight” appears to pose a seemingly insurmountable challenge. This is because, given the gradual instantiation of the “intelligent battlespace”, our understanding of an Adversary—both as a Soldier and as the “accidental” (or deliberate) guerrilla/insurgent—is being rendered passé. While these “traditional” forms of the Adversary may continue to inflict damage—some of which may be on a large scale and rate high on the lethality index—in the context of the “intelligent battlespace” and the “control paradigm” that it operationalizes, they nevertheless represent elements that can be managed and, when necessary, interdicted.
Take, for example, Reza Negarestani’s account of what he refers to as “the shadow terrorist” which, by most standards, is a frightening description of the performativity of a “new” kind of “terrorist”. In his insightful essay titled “The Militarization of Peace”, Negarestani engages with the incendiary proclamations of Abdu-Salam Faraj and draws our attention to the tactical dexterity involved in what he refers to as “the new wave of terrorism” in which “tactical lines are not aligned with (or configured by) the plane of conflict and visible military friction (battlefields, terrains for guerrilla warfare, street-wars etc.) … [and which] do not have localizability which is a prerequisite for direct conflict and military formation.” Negarestani highlights the tactical benefits of “strategic (dis)simulation” that the “shadow terrorist” draws on, which involves “dismantling the theatrical aspect of the battlefield and selecting civilians as primary targets … [and which] makes survival itself a field of exploitation.” Negarestani informs us that invoking the tactics of Taqiya, the Takfiri “engages as a shadow terrorist in White War—the endo-militarization of peace, a state of hypercamouflage (best defined as complete and consequently symmetrical overlap between two entities on a mereotopological plane).” He further posits that “in this war, the cover of camouflage cannot be penetrated or disrupted, and the defensive camouflage … is replaced by a wholly novel, highly offensive deployment, the space of hypercamouflage.” For our purposes, it is necessary to ask: can such an adversary, at least in the way Negarestani describes him, survive in the context of the emergent “intelligent battlespace”?
Negarestani’s key insight is that a “shadow terrorist”, the Takfiri, engages in strategic (dis)simulation, which involves the consideration of the target’s body as a host and to burrow deep within it, not as a “foreign” agent, but by masquerading as an integral element of the body, thereby avoiding detection. But consider this “tactic” in the context of the emergent targeting paradigm that we referred to above.
The Takfiri’s strategic cover, in a manner of speaking, is to effect an absolute and total overlap with its target. While this may have worked in non-intelligent battlespaces where the “control paradigm” was still a conjecture, in current and emergent conditions, the Takfiri would have to either redefine the tactic of hypercamouflage or consider it being rendered ineffective and thus irrelevant. In other words, it is not simply enough for the Takfiri to engage in “deep deception” or, as Negarestani points out, in Faraj’s terms, “seeking the highest degree of participation with the infidels, with their civilians: ‘if they take drugs we must do the same, if they take part in every type of sexual activity we must drive those activities to the point of excess’.” It is also not sufficient for the Takfiri to avoid engaging with(in) recognized “planes of conflict” and sites of military friction. This is because the emergent “intelligent battlespace”, while accommodating such overlaps engaged in by the Takfiri, also—by twisting the “recognized planes of conflict” into a seemingly seamless continuum, which has no apparent beginning, middle or end—serves as a virtual prison from which the Takfiri would never be able to either escape or act again. Thus, while the Takfiri may be able to effect a strategic (dis)simulation operation by “militarizing peace”, his strategic objective of undermining the integrity of his target by a timely dissimulation would be impossible given that any violation of the “control paradigm” would invite instant identification and retribution. It would also, perversely, heighten the efficiency of the “intelligent battlespace” since the Takfiri would, by his (dis)simulation operations, provide it with an additional dataset which would only augment the “intelligence” of the “intelligent battlespace”. In this way, the “intelligent battlespace”, constituted by “the most profound technologies”, and which is increasingly standing-in as the world-as-such, represents a degree of weaponization (and securitization) which is, and may be projected to be, unparalleled.
As if wanting to put a hi-tech and “modern” twist to the tactics of the Takfiri, the Economist breathlessly proclaims that “hypersonics” is “the new form of stealth”. But all it does is to exhibit a profound misunderstanding of the critical issue at stake. For, as we have seen, in the context of the emergent “intelligent battlespace”, “speed” is no guarantor of “stealth”; rather, it is, ironically, representative of the instantaneity of retribution—an instance of reaping the benefits of the weaponization of speed—which is wholly dependent on the “grid of intelligibility” that the “intelligent battlespace” etches. This virtual collapse of time and the weaponization of the laws of the sciences which, in the context of high-intensity warfare involving nation-states, involves the use of hypersonic missiles to break down Anti-Missile defensive systems and which, in the context of low-intensity, counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations, is the harbinger of “instant death” from the skies, also renders the insidiousness of a sophisticated adversary like the Takfiri, or the shadow terrorist, ineffective.
For an Adversary intending to contend with the emergent “intelligent battlespace”, following the age-old adage of “knowing one’s adversary” remains crucial. But this “knowing” will have to be undertaken differently and, in the first instance, will require the fulfilment of at least two basic pre-requisites. First, a re-envisioning of the “intelligent battlespace” will be necessary. This will involve recognizing the “intelligent battlespace” not as an innovative organization of people, processes, technologies and forms of organizations, but as a “new” form of organism—one that is adept at shape-shifting (effecting strategic expansions and tactical withdrawals).  
Second, and perhaps more importantly, it will require a patient and intricate reworking of the alphanumeric concordances, which underwrite and sustain the logic systems that constitute the “intelligent battlespace”. Among other things, this will also involve paying close attention to how it “learns”.
While it is not possible within the current constraints to provide a detailed account of how these twin prerequisites may be fulfilled, what follows, however, is a brief account of how an assessment of the “intelligent battlespace” may be initiated. With the caveat that such an account will, at this stage, be brief, speculative and necessarily abstract, a viable starting point for an Adversary preparing to contend with the “intelligent battlespace” would involve recognizing that the process by which it “learns” has at least two distinguishing features. First, “learning” in the context of the “intelligent battlespace” takes place across differing timescales, and second, there are at least two kinds of “learning” that take place. Here “learning” refers to “the process of extracting structure—statistical regularities—from input data and encoding that structure into the parameters of the network.” If we think of the “intelligent battlespace” as being comprised of two layers—the digital computational and the analogue computational—then the “learning” that takes place at the digital computational level can be said to be “experiential”, which is attributable to the fact that the digital computational level is, among other things, primarily constituted by a plethora of sensors which interface not only with what lies outside it, but also between its own constituents. In this sense, the digital computation level serves as the “interactive” mechanism with which the “intelligent battlespace”, in a manner of speaking, animates itself. From this it follows that the “learning” that takes place at this level occurs along and across a much shorter timescale as compared to that which takes place at the analogue computational level where, on the other hand, the timescales involved are much longer and are, perhaps, best understood in evolutionary terms. As such, it is akin to a “learning substrate”, whose primary function is to enhance, but also direct the learning capabilities of the digital computational level that rides on it. One way to understand this is to consider it in terms of “active learning” and “innate learning” systems. “Active learning” is “learning by experience”. “Innate learning”, on the other hand, is “intrinsic”/“natural”/“unsupervised”. Thus, if the digital computational level is the site where “active learning” takes place, then the analogue computational level is the site where “innate learning” takes place. The question then arises: how does “innate learning” at the analogue computational level take place? While in the case of biological entities, “innateness” (of learning and knowledge) is a function of specific encodings within the genome as a consequence of evolution, in the case of the analogue computational level, “innate learning” may be understood as the forming of abstract statistical regularities drawn from vast quantities of input data over extended timeframes. It is important to note that these abstract statistical regularities contribute to the evolution of the architecture of the analogue computational level. When considered in this way, the digital computational and the analogue computational levels appear to share a symbiotic relationship in the sense that the abstract statistical regularities that are formed at the level of analogue computation are derived from the “experience” acquired by and at the digital computational level. Simultaneously, these abstract statistical regularities, which inform the architecture of the abstract computational level, in turn, “condition” how the digital computational level functions. In this way, the analogue computational level “conditions” and “reinforces” the “learning” that takes place at the digital computational level. Put differently, it could be said that analogue computational level does not “encode representations or behaviours … or optimization principles directly”; rather, it “encodes … rules and patterns, which then must instantiate behaviours and representations” at the digital computational level. In this connection, it is also worth pointing out that the constitution of the digital computational level, which is comprised of a plethora of sensors, undergoes a more rapid transformation as compared to any change that may occur at the analogue computational level. This is because the devices that constitute the digital computational level are more directly impacted by the effects of Moore’s Law and, consequently, are upgraded more frequently.
However, as they are upgraded and as their performance achieves higher levels of efficiency and increasingly finer resolutions, they remain subject to the “reinforcement” that the analogue computational level provides.
This brief overview of how the “intelligent battlespace” “learns”, which contributes to the progressive enhancement of its “intelligence” (and “awareness”), suggests that for the Adversary, perhaps the most remunerative but long-range target that the “intelligent battlespace” affords is at the analogue computational level. There are two reasons for this. First, as we have seen, the learning process at the analogue computational level is more drawn out and the degree of abstraction is very high. Second, in comparison to the digital computational level, the “learning” that occurs at the analogue computational level is more foundational in the sense that it co-constitutes not only the architecture of the analogue computational level, it also encodes the rules and patterns by which the representations and/or behaviours at the digital computational level take place. Thus, any interdiction at this level will have, albeit slowly/gradually, a cascading effect on the nature of the “intelligent battlespace”. In this sense, the nature of offensive operations that the Adversary will engage in will necessarily have to be “effects-based” where the “effect” would not be in the form of “spectacular” events, but one of gradual decay. This leads to the assessment that while on the one hand the concept of operations that may prospectively underwrite the martial operability of the Adversary will be one informed by the “principle of decay” rather than that of destruction, the tactical manoeuvre that the Adversary will adopt, unlike that of the Takfiri’s tactic of hypercamouflage, will be one of “transpiercement”. To be able to achieve this, however, the Adversary will have to seek “staging areas” which, in the context of the constitution of the “intelligent battlespace” that we have cursorily described above, can only be available where the digital computational and analogue computational levels overlay (and abut) each other. Here the Adversary will seek (and find) interstices—holey spaces—within which to reside temporarily and to plan and stage his offensive operations. Such spaces, marked by complexity, ambiguity, hybridity, contradiction and otherness, will afford the Adversary a space of respite, sheltering him from the “gorgon stare” of each of the computational levels, thereby affording him the cover required to plot and plan his intervention. They will also serve as portals through which he will be able to carry out his offensive operations.
Endnote to the Exegetical Incursion of the “Intelligent Battlespace”:
The “intelligent battlespace” is yet in a formative stage. One way to gauge the extent to which it has been instantiated is by closely following the development of the “internet of everything”. The radically insidious nature of this emergent battlespace ensures that our recognition of it is always going to be subverted by the apparent ease and functionality that it provides, principally by means of the digital computational level, which we see being manifested by “consumer” technologies like smart phones, GPS-enabled devices, augmented reality systems, among others, which have already become a part of, in Michel de Certeau’s terms, the practice of our everyday life. These technologies and devices, as Weiser had written in 1991, have not yet receded wholly into the background. But they are in the process of doing so. We “consume” them not recognizing that simultaneously we are also being consumed by them. The apparent benign-ness of these technologies, which are little more than user-interfaces to a deeper analogue computational logic, seduces us to progressively acquiesce in our rendition—like the soldiers Sterling observed in the CATTAC—as little more than digital objects. In the military context, as we have already seen, it is now almost impossible to think about war and tactics outside the purview of these kinds of machines and technologies whose operational envelope remains constricted by the deep logic(s) of the “intelligent battlespace”.
The two Chinese military theorists who we had invoked previously had observed that “[w]ar in the age of technological integration and globalization has eliminated the right of weapons to label war and, with regard to the new starting point, has realigned the relationship of weapons to war.” When cast against the backdrop of our brief “incursion” of the “intelligent battlespace”, we can now see how their concerns, while not misplaced, may have underestimated the context in which their observations assume an even greater importance than what they may have imagined. While it is true that “technological integration” (and globalization) has indeed eliminated the right of weapons to label war, this elimination, as we have seen, may, in part, be attributable to the emergence of the “intelligent battlespace”, which is subjecting current and emergent designs of military hardware and software to its dictates. In the process, it is also impacting the “wetwares” of war, or what we have previously referred to as the “tactical imaginations”, that we seek to employ in the so-called “physical battlespace”. In this sense, the theorization of war and of modes of martial operability remains bound within the envelope of possibilities afforded by the “intelligent battlespace”, thus vindicating the concerns articulated by the two Chinese military theorists, albeit differently. Thus, while we remain cognizant of the conceptual envelope that may have restricted the imagination of the two Chinese military theorists, we cannot help but empathize with their call to focus our thinking on “how to fight”, for that is the challenge that we, in the context of the emergent “intelligent battlespace”, face.
Consequently, if we must think about war, martial operability and new concepts of weapons in the 21st century and beyond, we have to think differently. We must free our imagination from the “control paradigm” that the “intelligent battlespace” is instituting. It is in this sense that Marko Peljhan’s exhibit—though representing an instantiation of the weaponization of speed—is both apposite and (un)timely for it issues a call to “escape”—an escape from the embrace of the “intelligent battlespace”.

GUTMANNOVÁ, Ruth. untitled, aguarela sobre papel /watercolor on paper 22 x 30 cm, 1943-44
GUTMANNOVÁ, Ruth. untitled, aguarela sobre papel /watercolor on paper 22 x 30 cm, 1943-44
GUTMANNOVÁ, Ruth. untitled, aguarela sobre papel /watercolor on paper 22 x 30 cm, 1943-44
GUTMANNOVÁ, Ruth. untitled, aguarela sobre papel /watercolor on paper 22 x 30 cm, 1943-44
GUZMÁN, Patricio. La Batalla de Chile: El Golpe de Estado, 09:09 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1976
GUZMÁN, Patricio. La Batalla de Chile: El Golpe de Estado, 09:09 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1976
GUZMÁN, Patricio. La Batalla de Chile: El Golpe de Estado, 09:09 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1976
GYSIN, Brion. [1960] Pistol Poem, in V/A, Lunapark 0,10, Sub Rosa, 03:43 mins., 1999
GYSIN, Brion. [1960] Pistol Poem, in V/A, Lunapark 0,10, Sub Rosa, 03:43 mins., 1999
HALIMI, Serge. [1997] Les nouveaux chiens de garde, Raisons d'Agir, 2005, pp.1-145 

Des médias de plus en plus concentrés, des journalistes de plus en plus dociles, une information de plus en plus médiocre. Longtemps, le désir de transformation sociale continuera de buter sur cet obstacle. Cela fait longtemps que les responsables politiques et syndicaux s'accordent pour ne plus aborder la question de l'information et de son contrôle démocratique, y compris quand ils se proclament radicaux. Sur ce sujet précis, les «altermondialistes» et les révolutionnaires filent aussi doux que les autres. Ils ont peur des médias et de leur pouvoir, peur du pouvoir qu'ils ont concédé aux médias.

Les nouveaux chiens de garde

Serge Halimi

En 1932 Paul Nizan écrivit un petit essai, Les Chiens de garde. De nos jours, les simulateurs disposent d'une maquilleuse et d'un micro plus souvent que d'une chaire. Metteurs en scène des réalités sociales et politiques, intérieures et extérieures, ils les déforment tour à tour. Ils servent les intérêts des maîtres du monde. Ils sont les nouveaux chiens de garde. 
Or ils se proclament «contre-pouvoir»... Et ils se veulent à la fois vigoureux, irrespectueux, porte-parole des obscurs et des sans-voix, forum de la démocratie vivante. Les Américains ont ramassé ce sacerdoce en une formule : «réconforter ceux qui vivent dans l'affliction et affliger ceux qui vivent dans le confort». Le «contre pouvoir» s'est assoupi avant de se retourner contre ceux qu'il devait servir. Pour servir ceux qu'il devait surveiller. La chose devient assez connue, la loi du silence révolue. Mais rien ne change. Est-ce alors la profondeur de la déchirure sociale qui rend insupportable le bourdonnement satisfait de nos grands éditorialistes? Est-ce plutôt l'impudence de leur société de connivence qui, dans un périmètre idéologique minuscule, multiplie les affrontements factices, les notoriétés indues, les services réciproques, les omniprésences à l'antenne ? Est-ce enfin l'assaut répété - et chaque fois victorieux - des industriels contre les dernières citadelles de la liberté de la presse ? Une partie de l'opinion se rebelle en tout cas contre le spectacle d'un «soleil qui ne se couche jamais sur l'empire de la passivité moderne [...] le mauvais rêve de la société enchaînée, qui n'exprime finalement que son désir de dormir1».
La censure est cependant plus efficace quand elle n'a pas besoin de se dire, quand les intérêts du patron miraculeusement coïncident avec ceux de «l'information». Le journaliste est alors prodigieusement libre. Et il est heureux. On lui octroie en prime le droit de se croire puissant.
[…]
Un bon chien de garde doit savoir alerter son maître. 
[…]
Un salarié de TF1 le résume ainsi : «Les journalistes politiques souhaitent se mettre en valeur aux yeux des hommes de pouvoir, avoir des rapports d'amitié avec eux sous prétexte d'obtenir des informations. Mais cela les rend courtisans, ils ne font plus leur métier. Ils approchent le pouvoir et en sont contents parce qu'ils se sentent importants. Quand le ministre fend la foule et vient leur serrer la main, ça leur fait vraiment plaisir. Ils vont aussi en tirer de menus avantages : les PV qui sautent, une place en crèche pour les enfants, des appartements pas cher grâce à la ville de Paris2...»
[…]
Quels furent les ressorts profonds de la fusion entre médias et pouvoir au moment de la guerre du Golfe ? Quand les avions « alliés » détruisaient l'ancienne Mésopotamie, un homme de culture aussi exceptionnellement raffiné que le journaliste de TF1 Charles Villeneuve expliqua : «C'est la guerre du monde civilisé contre les Arabes.» L'ethnocentrisme colonial et les nostalgies de «mission civilisatrice» ne jouèrent néanmoins qu'un rôle assez marginal dans cette affaire. La plupart des hommes de presse préfèrent alors hurler avec les loups, déguisés en grand-mères des guerres humanitaires et d'autant plus confortés dans leurs certitudes d'appartenir au Parti du Bien que la «morale» est un substitut idéal à l'absence de connaissance des situations locales. C'est pendant ces bouffées de ferveur et d'intolérance que le journaliste devrait manifester son aptitude à la dissidence. Mais il aime lui aussi barboter dans le torrent unanimiste, jeter à la rivière le cynisme dont on le soupçonne, exhiber les derniers jouets que la technologie lui livre, faire front contre l'ennemi, rester «mobilisé» avec son armée et son pays. La guerre du Kosovo a ressuscité cet esprit de meute médiatique. Puis, aux États-Unis, ce fut la guerre d'Irak. 
[…]
Noam Chomsky ne cesse de le répéter : l'analyse du dévoiement médiatique n'exige, dans les pays occidentaux, aucun recours à la théorie du complot. Un jour, un étudiant américain l'interroge : «J'aimerais savoir comment au juste l'élite contrôle t'elle les médias?» Il réplique : «Comment contrôle t'elle General Motors ? La question ne se pose pas. L'élite n'a pas à contrôler General Motors. Ça lui appartient3». En France, l'imbrication croissante entre les groupes industriels et les médias ramène le pays à la situation qu'il a connue sous la IIIème République. Cet état des choses, Albert Camus le décrivait en ces termes à la Libération : «L'appétit de l'argent et l'indifférence aux choses de la grandeur avaient opéré en même temps pour donner à la France une presse qui, à de rares exceptions près, n'avait d'autre but que de grandir la puissance de quelques-uns et d'autre effet que d'avilir la moralité de tous. Il n'a donc pas été difficile à cette presse de devenir ce qu'elle a été de 1940 à 1944, c'est-à-dire la honte du pays4.» Le programme du Conseil national de la Résistance entendit remédier à cette déchéance en garantissant «la liberté de la presse, son honneur et son indépendance à l'égard de l'État, des puissances d'argent et des influences étrangères». Des ordonnances interdirent, par exemple, qu'un même individu possède ou contrôle plus d'un quotidien politique. Les commémorations de la guerre délaissent en général cet aspect du combat des résistants, leur volonté que la Libération ne se résume pas à la restauration de l'ordre d'autrefois. Soixante ans plus tard, la vanité d'une telle espérance est consommée. Non seulement les gouvernements, de droite ou de gauche, n'ont rien entrepris pour prévenir le rétablissement du pouvoir des «puissances d'argent» sur l'information, mais ils lui ont permis de se concentrer sous la coupe de groupes héréditaires. 
[…]     
Édouard Daladier le 28 octobre 1934; ce jour-là, devant le congrès du parti qu'il présidait, Daladier baptisa les nouvelles dynasties d'un nom qui resterait fameux : «Deux cents familles sont maîtresses de l'économie française et, en fait, de la politique française. Ce sont des forces qu'un État démocratique ne devrait pas tolérer, que Richelieu n'eût pas toléré dans le royaume de France. L'influence des deux cents familles pèse sur le système fiscal sur les transports, sur le crédit. Les deux cents familles placent au pouvoir leurs délégués. Elles interviennent sur l'opinion publique, car elles contrôlent la presse.»
[…]
Des médias de plus en plus concentrés, des journalistes de plus en plus dociles, une information de plus en plus médiocre. Longtemps, le désir de transformation sociale continuera de buter sur cet obstacle. Cela fait longtemps que les responsables politiques et syndicaux s'accordent pour ne plus aborder la question de l'information et de son contrôle démocratique, y compris quand ils se proclament radicaux. Sur ce sujet précis, les «altermondialistes» et les révolutionnaires filent aussi doux que les autres. Ils ont peur des médias et de leur pouvoir, peur du pouvoir qu'ils ont concédé aux médias. S'étant résignés, avec plus ou moins de volupté, à la personnalisation des mouvements et des luttes qu'induisent à la fois le régime présidentiel et la décadence du journalisme, étant parfois eux-mêmes atteints d'un petit tropisme narcissique - un travers que l'exposition répétée aux flashs des reporters épanouira en cancer -, même les plus militants estiment dépendre de la presse pour se faire entendre. Ils se montrent par conséquent disposés à toutes les mises en scène pour qu'elle ne les oublie pas. Mais les combats porteurs sont ailleurs. 
[…]
En ne rencontrant que des «décideurs», en se dévoyant dans une société de cour et d'argent, en se transformant en machine à propagande de la pensée de marché, le journalisme s'est enfermé dans une classe et dans une caste. Il a perdu des lecteurs et son crédit. Il a précipité l'appauvrissement du débat public. Cette situation est le propre d'un système : les codes de déontologie n'y changeront pas grand-chose. Mais, face à ce que Paul Nizan appelait «les concepts dociles que rangent les caissiers soigneux de la pensée bourgeoise», la lucidité est une forme de résistance. 

Guy Debord, La Société du spectacle, Paris, Gallimard, 1992, p.7-11.
2Cité par Pierre Péan et Christophe Nick, TF1 : Un pouvoir, Paris, Fayard, 1997, p. 304-305
3Noam Chomsky, Les Médias et les Illusions nécessaires, Éditions K Films, Paris, 1993, p. 39
4Combat, 31 août 1944

HANATARASH. Cock Aktion, 30:36 mins., 1985   
HANATARASH. Cock Aktion, 30:36 mins., 1985   
HANATARASH. Cock Aktion, 30:36 mins., 1985   
HANSEN, Al. [1989] Joseph Beuys Stuka Bomber Piece, in Fluxus 40th Anniversary 1962-2002, 10:28 mins., Unofficial Release Box Set, Limited Edition, sem data/undated
HANSEN, Al. [1989] Joseph Beuys Stuka Bomber Piece, in Fluxus 40th Anniversary 1962-2002, 10:28 mins., Unofficial Release Box Set, Limited Edition, sem data/undated
HAWKING, Stephen. A Brief History of Time, Chapter VI: Black Holes, Bantam Dell Publ. Group, 1988

According to the theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than light. Thus if light cannot escape, neither can anything else; everything is dragged back by the gravitational field. So one has a set of events, a region of space-time, from which it is not possible to escape to reach a distant observer. This region is what we now call a black hole. Its boundary is called the event horizon and it coincides with the paths of light rays that just fail to escape from the black hole.

A Brief History of Time

Stephen Hawking

The gravitational field of the star changes the paths of light rays in space-time from what they would have been had the star not been present. The light cones, which indicate the paths followed in space and time by flashes of light emitted from their tips, are bent slightly inward near the surface of the star. This can be seen in the bending of light from distant stars observed during an eclipse of the sun. As the star contracts, the gravitational field at its surface gets stronger and the light cones get bent inward more. This makes it more difficult for light from the star to escape, and the light appears dimmer and redder to an observer at a distance. Eventually, when the star has shrunk to a certain critical radius, the gravitational field at the surface becomes so strong that the light cones are bent inward so much that light can no longer escape.

According to the theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than light. Thus if light cannot escape, neither can anything else; everything is dragged back by the gravitational field. So one has a set of events, a region of space-time, from which it is not possible to escape to reach a distant observer. This region is what we now call a black hole. Its boundary is called the event horizon and it coincides with the paths of light rays that just fail to escape from the black hole.
In order to understand what you would see if you were watching a star collapse to form a black hole, one has to remember that in the theory of relativity there is no absolute time. Each observer has his own measure of time. The time for someone on a star will be different from that for someone at a distance, because of the gravitational field of the star.
Suppose an intrepid astronaut on the surface of the collapsing star, collapsing inward with it, sent a signal every second, according to his watch, to his spaceship orbiting about the star. At some time on his watch, say 11:00, the star would shrink below the critical radius at which the gravitational field becomes so strong nothing can escape, and his signals would no longer reach the spaceship. As 11:00 approached his companions watching from the spaceship would find the intervals between successive signals from the astronaut getting longer and longer, but this effect would be very small before 10:59:59. They would have to wait only very slightly more than a second between the astronaut’s 10:59:58 signal and the one that he sent when his watch read 10:59:59, but they would have to wait forever for the 11:00 signal.
The light waves emitted from the surface of the star between 10:59:59 and 11:00, by the astronaut’s watch, would be spread out over an infinite period of time, as seen from the spaceship. The time interval between the arrival of successive waves at the spaceship would get longer and longer, so the light from the star would appear redder and redder and fainter and fainter. Eventually, the star would be so dim that it could no longer be seen from the spaceship: all that would be left would be a black hole in space. The star would, however, continue to exert the same gravitational force on the spaceship, which would continue to orbit the black hole. This scenario is not entirely realistic, however, because of the following problem. Gravity gets weaker the farther you are from the star, so the gravitational force on our intrepid astronaut’s feet would always be greater than the force on his head.
The work that Roger Penrose and I did between 1965 and 1970 showed that, according to general relativity, there must be a singularity of infinite density and space-time curvature within a black hole. This is rather like the big bang at the beginning of time, only it would be an end of time for the collapsing body and the astronaut. At this singularity the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down. However, any observer who remained outside the black hole would not be affected by this failure of predictability, because neither light nor any other signal could reach him from the singularity. This remarkable fact led Roger Penrose to propose the cosmic censorship hypothesis, which might be paraphrased as “God abhors a naked singularity.” In other words, the singularities produced by gravitational collapse occur only in places, like black holes, where they are decently hidden from outside view by an event horizon.
Strictly, this is what is known as the weak cosmic censorship hypothesis: it protects observers who remain outside the black hole from the consequences of the breakdown of predictability that occurs at the singularity, but it does nothing at all for the poor unfortunate astronaut who falls into the hole.

HENDRIX, Jimi. Guitar burning at Monterey Pop, 02:13 mins., 1967
HENDRIX, Jimi. Guitar burning at Monterey Pop, 02:13 mins., 1967
HENDRIX, Jimi. Guitar burning at Monterey Pop, 02:13 mins., 1967
HOCHSCHILD, Adam. [1998] King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Houghton Mifflin, 1999. pp. 162-165  

One temporary exhibit shows a remarkable type of sculpture from the lower part of the Congo River: three-foot-high wooden statues, the chest and neck of each one studded with hundreds of nails, spikes, and tiny razorlike blades. The statues look like bristling, tortured dwarfs. A sign explains that each is an nkondi, a fetish to combat witches and other evildoers. Every nail and blade stands for an oath or an appeal for retaliation against an injustice. But of any larger injustice in the Congo, there is no sign whatever. For in none of the museum's galleries is there the slightest hint that millions of Congolese met unnatural deaths.
There is no hint of these deaths anywhere in Brussels. The rue Bréderode, where part of the Congo administration and the most important Congo companies once had headquarters, still runs past the back of the Royal Palace. But today the spot where Joseph Conrad had his job interview is occupied by a government tax-collection office.

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Adam Hochschild

THE GREAT FORGETTING

ONE OF THE MORE eerie experiences for a visitor to the old Soviet Union was strolling through the spacious galleries of the Museum of the Revolution on Moscow's Gorky Street. You could look at hundreds of photographs and paintings of fur-hatted revolutionaries behind snowy barricades, innumerable rifles, machine guns, flags and banners, a large collection of other relics and documents, and find no clue that some twenty million Soviet citizens had died in execution cellars, in manmade famines, and in the gulag.

Today that museum in Moscow has changed in ways its creators could never have imagined. But on the other side of Europe is one that has not changed in the slightest. To see it, take the Number 44 tram line through the shady, pleasant Forêt de Soignes on the outskirts of Brussels to the ancient ducal borough of Tervuren. In the eighth century, Saint Hubert, the patron saint of hunters, lived here and pursued game in these woods. Today, grandly overlooking a park, in an enormous Louis XV-style palace built by King Leopold II, is the Royal Museum for Central Africa. On a typical day it will be swarming with hundreds of visitors, from schoolchildren filling in blank spots in workbooks to elderly tourists arriving in air-conditioned buses.

The museum houses one of the world's largest collections of Africana. It takes a full day to see all the exhibits, from Stanley's cap to Leopold's cane, from slave manacles to a dugout canoe big enough for a hundred men. One gallery full of weapons and uniforms celebrates the "antislavery campaigns" of the 1890s—against the "Arab" slavers, of course. A plaque lists the names of several dozen Force Publique officers who "rest in African earth." Other plaques in this "memorial hall" have the names of hundreds more white pioneers who died in the Congo. Another gallery holds stuffed wild animals: elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas. An old black-and-white film plays continually on a TV monitor, showing Pende masked dances, the Kuba king at court, Ntomba funeral rites—an Africa composed entirely of exotic costumes and pounding drums. Everywhere, preserved in glass cases, are objects from the Congo's manifold cultures: spears, arrows, pipes, masks, bowls, baskets, paddles, scepters, fish traps, musical instruments.

One temporary exhibit shows a remarkable type of sculpture from the lower part of the Congo River: three-foot-high wooden statues, the chest and neck of each one studded with hundreds of nails, spikes, and tiny razorlike blades. The statues look like bristling, tortured dwarfs. A sign explains that each is an nkondi, a fetish to combat witches and other evildoers. Every nail and blade stands for an oath or an appeal for retaliation against an injustice. But of any larger injustice in the Congo, there is no sign whatever. For in none of the museum's galleries is there the slightest hint that millions of Congolese met unnatural deaths.

There is no hint of these deaths anywhere in Brussels. The rue Bréderode, where part of the Congo administration and the most important Congo companies once had headquarters, still runs past the back of the Royal Palace. But today the spot where Joseph Conrad had his job interview is occupied by a government tax-collection office. On another side of the palace, a larger-than-life statue of Leopold on horseback stares metallically out at a freeway underpass. And yet the blood spilled in the Congo, the stolen land, the severed hands, the shattered families and orphaned children, underlie much that meets the eye. The ornate, columned Royal Palace itself was renovated to its present splendor with Congo profits, as was the more grandly situated, domed château of Laeken, where the royal family lives, with its stunning array of greenhouses containing more than six acres of glass. Each spring the green houses are briefly opened to the public, and thousands of visitors walk past a bust of Leopold, decorated with camelias and azaleas. At Laeken also stands the five-story Japanese Tower, an architectural oddity that Leopold saw at a Paris world's fair, took a fancy to, and bought with his Congo money. Dominating part of the city's skyline is the grandest Congo-financed extravagance of all, the huge Cinquantenaire arch, studded with heroic statuary; it looks like a swollen combination of the Arc de Triomphe and the Brandenburg Gate, with curving wings added. The arch's massive stone and concrete bulk brings to mind Conrad's description of the unnamed European capital in Heart of Darkness as "the sepulchral city." But of the millions of Africans whose labors paid for all this and sent them to sepulchers of unmarked earth, there is no sign.

Brussels is not unique. In Berlin, there are no museums or monuments to the slaughtered Hereros, and in Paris and Lisbon no visible reminders of the rubber terror that slashed in half the populations of parts of French and Portuguese Africa. In the American South, there are hundreds of Civil War battle monuments and preserved plantation manor houses for every exhibit that in any way marks the existence of slavery. And yet the world we live in—its divisions and conflicts, its widening gap between rich and poor, its seemingly inexplicable outbursts of violence—is shaped far less by what we celebrate and mythologize than by the painful events we try to forget. Leopold's Congo is but one of those silences of history.

The Congo offers a striking example of the politics of forgetting. Leopold and the Belgian colonial officials who followed him went to extraordinary lengths to try to erase potentially incriminating evidence from the historical record. One day in August 1908, shortly before the colony was officially turned over to Belgium, the king's young military aide Gustave Stinglhamber walked from the Royal Palace to see a friend in the Congo state offices next door. The midsummer day seemed particularly warm, and the two men went to an open window to talk. Stinglhamber sat down on a radiator, then jumped to his feet: it was burning hot. When the men summoned the janitor for an explanation, he replied, "Sorry, but they're burning the State archives." The furnaces burned for eight days, turning most of the Congo state records to ash and smoke in the sky over Brussels. "I will give them my Congo," Leopold told Stinglhamber, "but they have no right to know what I did there."

At the same time the furnaces roared in Brussels, orders went from the palace to the Congo commanding the destruction of records there. Colonel Maximilien Strauch, the king's long-time consigliere on Congo matters, later said, "The voices which, in default of the destroyed archives, might speak in their stead have systematically been condemned to silence for considerations of a higher order." Seldom has a totalitarian regime gone to such lengths to destroy so thoroughly the records of its work. In their later quests for a higher order, Hitler and Stalin in some ways left a far larger paper trail behind them.

The same kind of deliberate forgetting took place in the minds of the men who staffed the regime. Forgetting one's participation in mass murder is not something passive; it is an active deed. In looking at the memories recorded by the early white conquistadors in Africa, we can sometimes catch the act of forgetting at the very moment it happens. It is not a moment of erasure, but of turning things upside down, the strange reversal of the victimizer mentally converting himself to victim. Take, for example, a moment in the memoirs of Raoul de Premorel, who ran rubber-collecting posts in the Kasai region of the Congo from 1896 to 1901...

HOSOE, Eikō. Navel and A-Bomb, cor./chor. Tatsumi Hijikata, 05:51 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1960
HOSOE, Eikō. Navel and A-Bomb, cor./chor. Tatsumi Hijikata, 05:51 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1960
HOSOE, Eikō. Navel and A-Bomb, cor./chor. Tatsumi Hijikata, 05:51 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1960
HULL, Kevin. The KLF - K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, documentário da BBC sobre performance K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, de 23 Agosto 1994 na Ilha de Jura/BBC documentary on K Foundation Burn a Million Quid performance action on 23 August 1994, Island of Jura, 01:55 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1995
HULL, Kevin. The KLF - K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, documentário da BBC sobre performance K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, de 23 Agosto 1994 na Ilha de Jura/BBC documentary on K Foundation Burn a Million Quid performance action on 23 August 1994, Island of Jura, 01:55 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1995
HULL, Kevin. The KLF - K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, documentário da BBC sobre performance K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, de 23 Agosto 1994 na Ilha de Jura/BBC documentary on K Foundation Burn a Million Quid performance action on 23 August 1994, Island of Jura, 01:55 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1995
ICHIYANAGI, Toshi. [1962] Parallel Music in Cosmos Of Toshi Ichiyanagi III - 1960's & 1990's, Camerata, 1999
ICHIYANAGI, Toshi. [1962] Parallel Music in Cosmos Of Toshi Ichiyanagi III - 1960's & 1990's, Camerata, 1999
IKEDA, Ryoji. Data vortex, in Dataplex, 5:49 mins., Raster-Noton | R-N068, 2006
IKEDA, Ryoji. Data vortex, in Dataplex, 5:49 mins., Raster-Noton | R-N068, 2006
ILES, Anthony, ROBERTS, Tom. All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal, Mute, The Strickland Distribution, Transmission Gallery, 2012. pp.48-51 

The human body and not the steam engine, and not even the clock, was the first machine produced by capitalism.

All Knees and Elbows of Susceptibility and Refusal
Reading History From Below

Anthony Iles & Tom Roberts

Within this split were further divisions. On the parliamentarian side there were conflicts between an emerging bourgeoisie and radical democrats. The reduction of democratic interest to those who held property, i.e. an interest in the land, versus a levelling democracy consisting in the manifold interests of those who lived and worked on the land was settled on the side of the former. These conflicting conceptions have fundamentally shaped modern political philosophy and statecraft in Europe, at least.

«When we mention the people, we do not mean the confused promiscuous body of the people.»1

It was the experience of the period of civil war and challenges from all directions to state, church and law that shaped Thomas Hobbes' mechanistic theory of political sovereignty, which insisted on the necessity of centralised authority to safeguard a liberal state. In Hobbes' and some of his peers' conceptions (and in the famous illustration which accompanies his book, Leviathan), a mechanical understanding of the body is conflated with a smoothly running political regime.

«In mechanical philosophy, the body is described by analogy with the machine, often with emphasis on its inertia. The body is conceived as brute matter, wholly divorced from any rational qualities: it does not know, does not want, does not feel. [...] the body is a conglomerate of mechanical motions that, lacking autonomous power operates on the basis of an external causation, in a play of attractions and aversions where everything is regulated as in an automaton.»2

The human body and not the steam engine, and not even the clock, was the first machine produced by capitalism.3

Christopher Hill shows how during this period two revolutions correspond to, but also exceed, these two powers grappling over a body to direct.

«There were, we may oversimplify, two revolutions in mid- seventeenth century England. The one which succeeded abolished the sacred rights of property (abolition of feudal tenures, no arbitrary taxation), gave political power to the propertied (sovereignty of Parliament and common law, abolition of prerogative courts), and removed all impediments to the triumph of the ideology of the men of property - the protestant ethic. There was however, another revolution which never happened, though from time to time it threatened. This might have established communal property, a far wider democracy in political and legal institutions, might have destabilised the state church and rejected the protestant ethic.»4

William Walwyn noted of the Cavaliers and Roundheads ‘their quarrel is all whose slaves the poor will be.5

1 Marchamont Needham, mid 17th century political commentator. Quoted in Christopher Hill, The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas During the English Revolution, London: Penguin, 1991, p.60
2 Silvia Federici, Caliban and The Witch:Women, The Body And Primitive Accumulation, New York: Autonomedia, 2004.
3 Caliban and the Witch, op. cit., p.146.
4 Ibid., p.15
5 Quoted in Peter Linebaugh, 'Days of Villainy: a reply to two critics’, International Socialism Journal, Issue 63, http://pubs.socialistreviewindex.org.uk/isj63/linebaugh.htm

INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. IMAGE CREATION USING GEO-FENCE DATA, "surveillance as a service.", diagrama detalhando serviço de vigilância consentida por drone/diagram detailing surveillance service with UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) at the property of an authorised party, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2019
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. IMAGE CREATION USING GEO-FENCE DATA, "surveillance as a service.", diagrama detalhando serviço de vigilância consentida por drone/diagram detailing surveillance service with UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) at the property of an authorised party, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2019
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. IMAGE CREATION USING GEO-FENCE DATA, "surveillance as a service.", diagrama detalhando serviço de vigilância consentida por drone/diagram detailing surveillance service with UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) at the property of an authorised party, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2019
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. IMAGE CREATION USING GEO-FENCE DATA, "surveillance as a service.", diagrama detalhando serviço de vigilância consentida por drone/diagram detailing surveillance service with UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) at the property of an authorised party, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2019
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ANTICIPATORY PACKAGE SHIPPING “To Ship Products to Consumers Before They Even Order Them”, diagrama representando método e sistema para envio antecipatório de produtos/diagram with representation of method and system for anticipatory package shipping, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2013
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ANTICIPATORY PACKAGE SHIPPING “To Ship Products to Consumers Before They Even Order Them”, diagrama representando método e sistema para envio antecipatório de produtos/diagram with representation of method and system for anticipatory package shipping, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2013
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ANTICIPATORY PACKAGE SHIPPING “To Ship Products to Consumers Before They Even Order Them”, diagrama representando método e sistema para envio antecipatório de produtos/diagram with representation of method and system for anticipatory package shipping, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2013
INDUSTRIAL PROPERTY CURIOSITY CABINET. METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR ANTICIPATORY PACKAGE SHIPPING “To Ship Products to Consumers Before They Even Order Them”, diagrama representando método e sistema para envio antecipatório de produtos/diagram with representation of method and system for anticipatory package shipping, AMAZON TECHNOLOGIES INC., 2013
JAKOBSEN, Henrik Plenge, BRINCH, Jes. Burned out kindergarten, Installation view, mixed media, 1994
JAKOBSEN, Henrik Plenge, BRINCH, Jes. Burned out kindergarten, Installation view, mixed media, 1994
JAKOBSEN, Henrik Plenge, BRINCH, Jes. Burned out kindergarten, Installation view, mixed media, 1994
JAKOBSEN, Henrik Plenge, BRINCH, Jes. Burned out kindergarten, Installation view, mixed media, 1994
JANE, Fred T. Shelling the Houses of Parliament, in Hartmann, the Anarchist Or, The Doom of the Great City, Edward Arnold London, 1893
JANE, Fred T. Shelling the Houses of Parliament, in Hartmann, the Anarchist Or, The Doom of the Great City, Edward Arnold London, 1893
JANE, Fred T. Shelling the Houses of Parliament, in Hartmann, the Anarchist Or, The Doom of the Great City, Edward Arnold London, 1893
JANE, Fred T. Shelling the Houses of Parliament, in Hartmann, the Anarchist Or, The Doom of the Great City, Edward Arnold London, 1893
JORN, Asger. Le Canard Inquiétant, óleo sobre pintura encontrada/oil on found canvas, 53 x 64.5 cm, 1959
JORN, Asger. Le Canard Inquiétant, óleo sobre pintura encontrada/oil on found canvas, 53 x 64.5 cm, 1959
JORN, Asger. Le Canard Inquiétant, óleo sobre pintura encontrada/oil on found canvas, 53 x 64.5 cm, 1959
JORN, Asger. Le Canard Inquiétant, óleo sobre pintura encontrada/oil on found canvas, 53 x 64.5 cm, 1959
JUDT, Tony. [2001] On the Plague, in When the Facts Change, Essays 1995 - 2010, William Heineman, 2010. pp. 233-246

for disease, separation, and exile are conditions that come upon us unexpectedly and unbidden. They are an illustration of what Camus meant by the “absurdity” of the human condition and the seemingly chance nature of human undertakings. It is not by accident that one of his main characters, Grand, for no apparent reason, reports a conversation overheard in a tobacco shop concerning “a young company employee who had killed an Arab on a beach.” This, of course, is an allusion to Meurseault’s seminal act of random violence in L’Étranger, and in Camus’s mind it is connected to the ravages of pestilence in The Plague by more than just their common Algerian setting.

On The Plague

Tony Judt

PENGUIN BOOKS HAS just published a new translation by Robin Buss of La Peste, by Albert Camus, and the text that follows is my introduction, written some months ago. Many readers will be familiar with its fable of the coming of the plague to the North African city of Oran in 194—, and the diverse ways in which the inhabitants respond to its devastating impact on their lives. Today, The Plague takes on fresh significance and a moving immediacy.

Camus’s insistence on placing individual moral responsibility at the heart of all public choices cuts sharply across the comfortable habits of our own age. His definition of heroism—ordinary people doing extraordinary things out of simple decency—rings truer than we might once have acknowledged. His depiction of instant ex cathedra judgments—“My brethren, you have deserved it”—will be grimly familiar to us all.

Camus’s unwavering grasp of the difference between good and evil, despite his compassion for the doubters and the compromised, for the motives and mistakes of imperfect humanity, casts unflattering light upon the relativizers and trimmers of our own day. And his controversial use of a biological epidemic to illustrate the dilemmas of moral contagion succeeds in ways the writer could not have imagined. Here in New York, in November 2001, we are better placed than we could ever have wished to feel the lash of the novel’s premonitory final sentence.

The Plague is Albert Camus’s most successful novel. It was published in 1947, when Camus was thirty-three, and was an immediate triumph. Within a year it had been translated into nine languages, with many more to come. It has never been out of print and was established as a classic of world literature even before its author’s untimely death in a car accident in January 1960. More ambitious than L’Étranger, the first novel that made his reputation, and more accessible than his later writings, The Plague is the book by which Camus is known to millions of readers. He might have found this odd—The Rebel, published four years later, was his personal favorite among his books.

The Plague was a long time in the writing, like much of Camus’s best work. He started gathering material for it in January 1941, when he arrived in Oran, the Algerian coastal city where the story is set. He continued working on the manuscript in “Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a mountain village in central France where he went to recuperate from one of his periodic bouts of tuberculosis in the summer of 1942. But Camus was soon swept into the Resistance and it was not until the liberation of France that he was able to return his attention to the book. By then, however, the obscure Algerian novelist had become a national figure: a hero of the intellectual Resistance, editor of Combat (a daily paper born in clandestinity and hugely influential in the postwar years), and an icon to a new generation of French men and women hungry for ideas and idols.

Camus seemed to fit the role to perfection. Handsome and charming, a charismatic advocate of radical social and political change, he held unparalleled sway over millions of his countrymen. In the words of Raymond Aron, readers of Camus’s editorials had “formed the habit of getting their daily thought from him.” There were other intellectuals in postwar Paris who were destined to play major roles in years to come: Aron himself, Simone de Beauvoir, and of course Jean-Paul Sartre. But Camus was different. Born in Algeria in 1913, he was younger than his Left Bank friends, most of whom were already forty years old when the war ended. He was more “exotic,” coming as he did from distant Algiers rather than from the hothouse milieu of Parisian schools and colleges; and there was something special about him. One contemporary observer caught it well: “I was struck by his face, so human and sensitive. There is in this man such an obvious integrity that it imposes respect almost immediately; quite simply, he is not like other men.

Camus’s public standing guaranteed his book’s success. But its timing had something to do with it, too. By the time the book appeared the French were beginning to forget the discomforts and compromises of four years of German occupation. Marshal Philippe Pétain, the head of state who initiated and incarnated the policy of collaboration with the victorious Nazis, had been tried and imprisoned. Other collaborating politicians had been executed or else banished from public life. The myth of a glorious national resistance was carefully cultivated by politicians of all colors, from Charles de Gaulle to the Communists; uncomfortable private memories were soothingly overlaid with the airbrushed official version in which France had been liberated from its oppressors by the joint efforts of domestic resisters and Free French troops led from London by De Gaulle.

In this context, Albert Camus’s allegory of the wartime occupation of France reopened a painful chapter in the recent French past, but in an indirect and ostensibly apolitical key. It thus avoided raising partisan hackles, except at the extremes of left and right, and took up sensitive topics without provoking a refusal to listen. Had the novel appeared in 1945 the angry, partisan mood of revenge would have drowned its moderate reflections on justice and responsibility. Had it been delayed until the 1950s its subject matter would probably have been overtaken by new alignments born of the cold war.

 

WHETHER THE PLAGUE SHOULD BE READ, as it surely was read, as a simple allegory of France’s wartime trauma is a subject to which I shall return. What is beyond doubt is that it was an intensely personal book. Camus put something of himself—his emotions, his memories, and his sense of place—into all his published work; that is one of the ways in which he stood apart from other intellectuals of his generation, and it accounts for his universal and lasting appeal. But even by his standards The Plague is strikingly introspective and revealing. Oran, the setting for the novel, was a city he knew well and cordially disliked, in contrast to his much-loved hometown of Algiers. He found it boring and materialistic and his memories of it were further shaped by the fact that his tuberculosis took a turn for the worse during his stay there. As a result he was forbidden to swim—one of his greatest pleasures—and was constrained to sit around for weeks on end in the stifling, oppressive heat that provides the backdrop to the story.

This involuntary deprivation of everything that Camus most loved about his Algerian birthplace—the sand, the sea, physical exercise, and the Mediterranean sense of ease and liberty that Camus always contrasted with the gloom and gray of the north—was compounded when he was sent to the French countryside to convalesce. The Massif Central of France is tranquil and bracing, and the remote village where Camus arrived in August 1942 might be thought the ideal setting for a writer. But twelve weeks later, in November 1942, the Allies landed in North Africa. The Germans responded by occupying the whole of southern France (hitherto governed from the spa town of Vichy by Pétain’s puppet government) and Algeria was cut off from the continent. Camus was thenceforth separated not just from his homeland but also from his mother and his wife, and would not see them again until the Germans had been defeated.

Illness, exile, and separation were thus present in Camus’s life as in his novel, and his reflections upon them form a vital counterpoint to the allegory. Because of his acute firsthand experience, Camus’s descriptions of the plague and of the pain of loneliness are exceptionally vivid and heartfelt. It is indicative of his own depth of feeling that the narrator remarks early in the story that “the first thing that the plague brought to our fellow citizens was exile,” and that “being separated from a loved one … [was] the greatest agony of that long period of exile.”

This in turn provides, for Camus and the reader alike, a link to his earlier novel: for disease, separation, and exile are conditions that come upon us unexpectedly and unbidden. They are an illustration of what Camus meant by the “absurdity” of the human condition and the seemingly chance nature of human undertakings. It is not by accident that one of his main characters, Grand, for no apparent reason, reports a conversation overheard in a tobacco shop concerning “a young company employee who had killed an Arab on a beach.” This, of course, is an allusion to Meurseault’s seminal act of random violence in L’Étranger, and in Camus’s mind it is connected to the ravages of pestilence in The Plague by more than just their common Algerian setting.

 

BUT CAMUS DID MORE THAN INSERT into his story vignettes and emotions drawn from his writings and his personal situation. He put himself very directly into the characters of the novel, using three of them in particular to represent and illuminate his distinctive moral perspective. Rambert, the young journalist cut off from his wife in Paris, is initially desperate to escape the quarantined city. His obsession with his personal suffering makes him indifferent to the larger tragedy, from which he feels quite detached—he is not, after all, a citizen of Oran, but was caught there by the vagaries of chance. It is on the very eve of his getaway that he realizes how, despite himself, he has become “part of the community and shares its fate; ignoring the risk and in the face of his earlier, selfish needs, he remains in Oran and joins the “health teams.” From a purely private resistance against misfortune he has graduated to the solidarity of a collective resistance against the common scourge.

Camus’s identification with Dr. Rieux echoes his shifting mood in these years. Rieux is a man who, faced with suffering and a common crisis, does what he must and becomes a leader and an example not out of heroic courage or careful reasoning but rather from a sort of necessary optimism. By the late 1940s Camus was exhausted and depressed at the burden of expectations placed on him as a public intellectual: as he confided to his notebooks, “everyone wants the man who is still searching to have reached his conclusions.” From the “existentialist” philosopher (a tag that Camus always disliked) people awaited a polished worldview; but Camus had none to offer. As he expressed it through Rieux, he was “weary of the world in which he lived”; all he could offer with any certainty was “some feeling for his fellow men and [he was] determined for his part to reject any injustice and any compromise.”

Dr. Rieux does the right thing just because he sees clearly what needs doing. In a third character, Tarrou, Camus invested a more developed exposition of his moral thinking. Tarrou, like Camus, is in his mid-thirties; he left home, by his own account, in disgust at his father’s advocacy of the death penalty—a subject of intense concern to Camus and on which he wrote widely in the postwar years. Tarrou has reflected painfully upon his past life and commitments, and his confession to Rieux is at the heart of the novel’s moral message: “I thought I was struggling against the plague. I learned that I had indirectly supported the deaths of thousands of men, that I had even caused their deaths by approving the actions and principles that inevitably led to them.”

This passage can be read as Camus’s own rueful reflections upon his passage through the Communist Party in Algeria during the 1930s. But Tarrou’s conclusions go beyond the admission of political error: “We are all in the plague. ... All I know is that one must do one’s best not to be a plague victim. ... And this is why I have decided to reject everything that, directly or indirectly, makes people die or justifies others in making them die.” This is the authentic voice of Albert Camus, and it sketches out the position he would take toward ideological dogma, political or judicial murder, and all forms of ethical irresponsibility for the rest of his life—a stance that would later cost him dearly in friends and even influence in the polarized world of the Parisian intelligentsia.

 

TARROU/CAMUS’S APOLOGIA for his refusals and his commitments returns us to the status of The Plague. It is a novel that succeeds at various levels as any great novel must, but it is above all and unmistakably a moral tale. Camus was much taken with Moby-Dick and, like Melville, he was not embarrassed to endow his story with symbols and metaphors. But Melville had the luxury of moving freely back and forth from the narrative of a whale hunt to a fable of human obsession; between Camus’s Oran and the dilemma of human choice there lay the reality of life in Vichy France between 1940 and 1944. Readers of The Plague, today as in 1947, are therefore not wrong to approach it as an allegory of the occupation years.

In part this is because Camus makes clear that this is a story about “us.” Most of the story is told in the third person. But strategically dispersed through the text is the occasional “we,” and the “we” in question—at least for Camus’s primary audience—is the French in 1947. The “calamity” that has befallen the citizens of fictionalized Oran is the one that came upon France in 1940, with the military defeat, the abandonment of the Republic, and the establishment of the regime of Vichy under German tutelage. Camus’s account of the coming of the rats echoed a widespread view of the divided condition of France itself in 1940: “It was as though the very soil on which our houses were built was purging itself of an excess of bile, that it was letting boils and abscesses rise to the surface which up to then had been devouring it inside.” Many in France, at first, shared Father Paneloux’s initial reaction: “My brethren, you have deserved it.”

For a long time people don’t realize what is happening and life seems to go on—“in appearance, nothing had changed.” “The city was inhabited by people asleep on their feet.” Later, when the plague has passed, amnesia sets in—“they denied that we [sic] had been that benumbed people.” All this and much more—the black market, the failure of administrators to call things by their name and assume the moral leadership of the nation—so well described the recent French past that Camus’s intentions could hardly be misread.

Nevertheless, most of Camus’s targets resist easy labels, and the allegory runs quite against the grain of the polarized moral rhetoric in use after the war. Cottard, who accepts the plague as too strong to combat and who thinks the “health teams” are a waste of time, is clearly someone who “collaborates” in the fate of the city. He thrives in the new situation and has everything to lose from a return to the “old ways.” But he is sympathetically drawn, and Tarrou and the others continue to see him and even discuss with him their actions. All they ask, in Tarrou’s words, is that he “try not to spread the plague knowingly.”

At the end Cottard is brutally beaten by the newly liberated citizenry—a reminder of the violent punishments meted out at the Liberation to presumed collaborators, often by men and women whose enthusiasm for violent revenge helped them and others forget their own wartime compromises. Camus’s insight into the anger and resentment born of genuine suffering and guilty memory introduces a nuance of empathy that was rare among his contemporaries, and it lifts his story clear of the conventions of the time.

The same insights (and integrity—Camus was writing from personal experience) shape his representation of the resisters themselves. It is not by chance that Grand, the mousy, downtrodden, unaspiring clerk, is presented as the embodiment of the real, unheroic resistance. For Camus, as for Rieux, resistance was not about heroism at all—or, if it was, then it was the heroism of goodness. “It may seem a ridiculous idea, but the only way to fight the plague is with decency.” Joining the “health teams” was not in itself an act of great significance—rather, “not doing it would have been incredible at the time.” This point is made over and over again in the novel, as though Camus were worried lest it be missed: “When you see the suffering it brings,” Rieux remarks at one point, “you have to be mad, blind or a coward to resign yourself to the plague.”

Camus, like the narrator, refuses to “become an overeloquent eulogist of a determination and heroism to which he attaches only a moderate degree of importance.” This has to be understood in context. There was of course tremendous courage and sacrifice in the French Resistance; many men and women died for the cause. But Camus was uncomfortable with the smug myth of heroism that had grown up in postwar France, and he abhorred the tone of moral superiority with which self-styled former Resisters (including some of his famous fellow intellectuals) looked down upon those who did nothing. In Camus’s view it was inertia, or ignorance, which accounted for people’s failure to act. The Cottards of the world were the exception; most people are better than you think—as Tarrou puts it, “You just need to give them the opportunity.”

 

IN CONSEQUENCE, some of Camus’s intellectual contemporaries did not particularly care for The Plague. They expected a more “engaged” sort of writing from him and they found the book’s ambiguities and the tone of disabused tolerance and moderation politically incorrect. Simone de Beauvoir especially disapproved strongly of Camus’s use of a natural pestilence as a substitute for (she thought) Fascism—it relieves men of their political responsibilities, she insisted, and runs away from history and real political problems. In 1955 the literary critic Roland Barthes reached a similarly negative conclusion, accusing Camus of offering readers an “antihistorical ethic.” Even today this criticism sometimes surfaces among academic students of Camus: he lets Fascism and Vichy off the hook, they charge, by deploying the metaphor of a “nonideological and nonhuman plague.”

Such commentaries are doubly revealing. In the first place they show just how much Camus’s apparently straightforward story was open to misunderstanding. The allegory may have been tied to Vichy France, but the “plague” transcends political labels. It was not “Fascism” that Camus was aiming at—an easy target, after all, especially in 1947—but dogma, compliance, and cowardice in all their intersecting public forms. Tarrou, certainly, is no Fascist; but he insists that in earlier days, when he complied with doctrines that authorized the suffering of others for higher goals, he too was a carrier of the plague even as he fought it.

Second, the charge that Camus was too ambiguous in his judgments, too unpolitical in his metaphors, illuminates not his weaknesses but his strengths. This is something that we are perhaps better placed to understand now than were The Plague’s first readers. Thanks to Primo Levi and Václav Havel we have become familiar with the gray zone.” We understand better that in conditions of extremity there are rarely to be found comfortingly simple categories of good and evil, guilty and innocent. We know more about the choices and compromises faced by men and women in hard times, and we are no longer so quick to judge those who accommodate themselves to impossible situations. Men may do the right thing from a mixture of motives and may with equal ease do terrible deeds with the best of intentions—or no intentions at all.

It does not follow from this that the plagues that humankind brings down upon itself are “natural” or unavoidable. But assigning responsibility for them—and thus preventing them in the future—may not be an easy matter. And with Hannah Arendt we have been introduced to a further complication: the notion of the “banality of evil” (a formulation that Camus himself would probably have taken care to avoid), the idea that unspeakable crimes can be committed by very unremarkable men with clear consciences.

These are now commonplaces of moral and historical debate. But Albert Camus came to them first, in his own words, with an originality of perspective and intuition that eluded almost all his contemporaries. That is what they found so disconcerting in his writing. Camus was a moralist who unhesitatingly distinguished good from evil but abstained from condemning human frailty. He was a student of the “absurd” who refused to give in to necessity. He was a public man of action who insisted that all truly important questions came down to individual acts of kindness and goodness. And, like Tarrou, he was a believer in absolute truths who accepted the limits of the possible: “Other men will make history. ... All I can say is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims—and as far as possible one must refuse to be on the side of the pestilence.”

Thus The Plague teaches no lessons. Camus was a moraliste but he was no moralizer. He claimed to have taken great care to try to avoid writing a “tract,” and to the extent that his novel offers little comfort to political polemicists of any school he can be said to have succeeded. But for that very reason it has not merely outlived its origins as an allegory of occupied France but has transcended its era. Looking back on the grim record of the twentieth century we can see more clearly now that Albert Camus had identified the central moral dilemmas of the age. Like Hannah Arendt, he saw that “the problem of evil will be the fundamental question of postwar intellectual life in Europe—as death became the fundamental problem after the last war.”

Fifty years after its first appearance, in an age of post-totalitarian satisfaction with our condition and prospects, when intellectuals pronounce the End of History and politicians proffer globalization as a universal palliative, the closing sentence of Camus’s great novel rings truer than ever, a fire bell in the night of complacency and forgetting:

The plague bacillus never dies or vanishes entirely, … it can remain dormant for dozens of years in furniture or clothing, … it waits patiently in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, handkerchiefs, and old papers, and … perhaps the day will come when for the instruction or misfortune of mankind, the plague will rouse its rats and send them to die in some well-contented city.

 

 

(This essay first appeared in The New York Review of Books in November 2001)

JUNGWOON, Choi. The Kwangju People's Uprising: Formation of the “Absolute Community” in KOREA JOURNAL / SUMMER 1999. pp. 243-274  

The citizens threw Molotov cocktails, setting many cars on fire; they rolled drums of gasoline at the paratroopers, exploding them upon contact; they set all cars on fire which had Kyŏngsang-do provinces license plates; they set the Numun-dong and Im-dong police boxes on fire. Fire was, at this point, the main weapon possessed by the demonstrators. At the same time, the flames represented a scream of loneliness summoning even more citizens to join in the struggle.

The Kwangju People’s Uprising: Formation of the “Absolute Community”

Choi Jungwoon

The May 18 student demonstration may have begun as a small-scale disturbance, but by the afternoon it developed into a serious confrontation. For the first time in modern Korean history, Molotov cocktails were used, pepper gas trucks were set on fire, police boxes were attacked, and riot police were taken hostage. By 3:00 in the afternoon, the riot police were thoroughly frightened (Han-guk Hyŏndae Saryo Yŏn-guso (HHSY) 1990 [4011], 887; [8002], 1535).

[...]

The streets were deserted by around 5:00 on May 18 after the paratroopers had swept through the city during the afternoon—all of the students and citizens had fled, terror-stricken. It seemed a simple enough affair, as if the fighting was already over. Around 7:00, however, a demonstration again broke out near Kwangju1 High School in Kyerim-dong. The paratroopers again made their appearance, slaughtering the demonstrators. Following this, the paratroopers began going through every house in Sansu-dong and P’unghyang-dong, hauling away all of the young people they came across. The citizens of Kwangju who were witnessing these events must have been in a state of severe shock and distress.

[...]

The crackdown on May 19 was severe. If someone happened to cast so much as an odd glance at the paratroopers from a window, the paratroopers would go through hotels, private institutes, all of the buildings in that area; they would drag away all of the young people and take them to Kŭmnamno avenue, where they would strip them and beat them, assault them in the street. The paratroopers also mobilized armored personnel carriers. The cruelty of the paratroopers knew no bounds on this day. By noon the streets were again deserted, and the paratroopers, feeling assured they had achieved success, withdrew to their camp to eat lunch. In the afternoon, however, countless numbers of citizens came out on the streets and a phalanx of demonstrators once again formed. Beginning on the afternoon of May 19, students no longer formed the heart of the uprising. The demonstrations on this afternoon were made up mostly of company employees from the downtown area dressed in suits, laborers, housewives, young women. High-school students began to take part.

[...]

The enraged citizens put up a stubborn resistance on the May 19, but they were fighting a lonely battle. They had overcome their fear to participate in the uprising, but when they were confronted with the concrete use of force, when the paratroopers engaged in a no holds-barred attack, they could do nothing but run away as fast as they could. They would then brace themselves and return to the fray. They didn’t give up. This was no longer a “student demonstration” in which students banded together with a number of their peers in an effort to promote a cause of their choosing. It was a struggle carried out by the individual citizens of Kwangju, each of whom had resolved, rationally, to overcome his/her fear in order to reaffirm his/her humanity. When the tide of the battle went against the demonstrators, however, they were forced to flee for their lives. The citizens threw Molotov cocktails, setting many cars on fire; they rolled drums of gasoline at the paratroopers, exploding them upon contact; they set all cars on fire which had Kyŏngsang-do provinces license plates; they set the Numun-dong and Im-dong police boxes on fire. Fire was, at this point, the main weapon possessed by the demonstrators. At the same time, the flames represented a scream of loneliness summoning even more citizens to join in the struggle. Those doing battle were putting on an unintended display of fire-works for the community. As night fell, the citizens set a large arch in Yu-dong on fire. Clearly, here, the fire enlivened the atmosphere, inviting more and more citizens to come out and see the flames. All of these acts, of course, resulted in the considerable loss of property. Such destruction was an indication that laborers and the poor—those who harbored feelings of hatred against the bourgeoisie and would therefore destroy their property without hesitation—were participating in the uprising in large numbers. During the entire uprising, it was only at this moment—a time when the citizens were struggling against their own loneliness, expressing their resentment at those citizens who were not participating, setting fires everywhere as they released their feelings of hostility—that the situation took on, in part, the characteristics of a riot.2

[...]

Around 3:00, the 7th and 11th SWC brigades were redeployed in the downtown area. An all-out battle between the citizens and the paratroopers broke out. As soon as it became apparent that it was a large-scale demonstration, the paratroopers abandoned the strategy they had employed on the previous day of deploying their forces in a linear formation, choosing instead to place battalion-size units at key points within the city. The result was the formation in the downtown area of pockets of resistance, “liberated areas.”

It was at this time that a new phenomenon appeared in the downtown area. Around 3:00, as the paratroopers moved to suppress the demonstrations, several hundred people, in the midst of the tear gas, began sit-down demonstrations in various downtown locations. At the sit-down demonstration in front of the Hwani Department Store on Kŭmnamno avenue, a student gave a speech, lead in the chanting of slogans, and read from the flyers. The citizens were enheartened, and in no time at all their numbers had greatly increased. When it became difficult to hear the student’s voice, someone began taking up a collection to purchase a loudspeaker. 400,000 won was collected on the spot. The students began to teach the citizens the “songs of the student movement”; “We Long for Reunification,” “Song of Justice,” “Song of the Fighters,” and the “Hula Song” were sung again and again. The citizens had difficulty following the songs at first, but after several repetitions everyone began to sing together with relative ease. Someone then suggested that the demonstrators sing the songs which everyone knew: the National Anthem and Arirang. A wave of tears swept over the crowd when Arirang was sung. Someone shouted out loudly: “Let’s follow those who have gone before us and die together!” The demonstrators were no longer chanting hostile slogans such as “Let’s rip Chun Doo-hwan apart and kill him!” Now they were chanting slogans which expressed the sorrow welling up inside them: “Kill all of us!” and “Let’s all die together!” As the demonstration began in earnest, the young men, armed with pieces of lumber and other such weapons, moved to the front; the women stood behind, handing them items to help them withstand the tear gas—wet towels, toothpaste, water. Some people brought boards and pipes from construction sites to be used as weapons. Gravel and other materials were brought in on bicycles and pushcarts. Not a single person chose to stand still and observe the action from the sidelines. The citizens were no longer lonely. Weeping, they embraced each other, resolved to fight to the death. The paratroopers soon attacked, engaging the demonstrators in hand-to-hand combat. The demonstrators, however, were more determined than ever. The citizens chanted slogans, singing together with people they had never met. Locking their bodies tightly together, they did not retreat.

[...]

The students taught the citizens their own songs, the “songs of the student movement” they had sung during their struggle. Then the citizens, the “people” (minjung), suggested their song, a song that everyone knew—Arirang. The street was awash in tears as Arirang was sung. Kim Ch’ung-gŭn, who was covering the event from the Provincial Office, states the following:

«It was in Kwangju that I first felt myself trembling so vehemently at the singing of our representative folk song, Arirang. Without water and power, all of Kwangju was enveloped in darkness; broadcasting stations and police boxes had been set on fire. Standing alone on top of the darkened Provincial Office, I saw a crowd waving Korean flags coming in my direction. The moment I heard the strains of Arirang, I felt an intense shuddering coursing through my veins. My mind went blank and I began to weep uncontrollably» (Korean Reporters Association 1997, 215-216).

Arirang inspired everyone with the overwhelming feeling that they had come together as humans. The melody of Arirang, inhering the time-honored sensibilities of the Korean traditional community, mysteriously transformed the slow swaying of individual bodies into a single, collective movement of all citizens.3 The sobs and tears of the citizens filling the streets pointed to a melancholy confession of sin, an expression of the pangs of conscience at having witnessed fellow citizens risking their lives, while not immediately rushing to their side to rescue them. At the same time, these sobs and tears represented a warm, embracing forgiveness. The melody of Arirang provided redemption for the citizens of Kwangju.

The citizens felt a sense of ecstasy that people from all quarters—men and women of all ages and classes, even, quite unexpectedly, bar girls from Hwanggŭm-dong and prostitutes from the Taein-dong red light district—were coming together to form the absolute community.

[...]

On the evening of May 20, faced with thousands of demonstrators, the paratroopers trembled with fear, fighting for their lives. And, on this evening, in front of Kwangju station and the tax office, the paratroopers fired their weapons.

On the evening of May 20, large numbers of citizens and small children came out of nowhere, gathering together to wave small Korean flags. Singing the national anthem, waving the flags, the citizens who had formed the absolute community began to demand for themselves the authority of the state. Insofar as the citizens felt that their struggle was a “glorious” one, it was only natural that they would begin to make this demand. The struggle with the paratroopers, then, became a patriotic one, an exercise of the state power now wielded by the citizens. The citizens commandeered all items necessary to do battle. Taking their lead from the earlier vehicle demonstration, they commandeered buses, trucks, even fire trucks. They also requisitioned gasoline. They lit some vehicles on fire and pushed them towards the paratroopers; other vehicles were driven by young men who had formed a kind of commando squad. The men would risk their lives driving these flaming cars towards the paratroopers, jumping out at the very last instant. Some citizens drove around the outskirts of the city, picking up people and bringing them to the downtown area.

[...]

Having appropriated state authority, citizens passed sentence on public buildings all through the night of May 20. The citizens set the local MBC television station on fire because it was airing false broadcasts. The citizens also set the KBS television station and the tax office on fire. These acts did not result simply from some kind of emotional explosion. In each case, the citizens first debated the pros and cons of setting the building in question on fire and then acted in accordance with the outcome of the debate.4

[...]

More than anything else, it was rage which caused citizens to place their lives on the line in the struggle against the paratroopers. This rage was not a mere reaction to injustice; it was the result of the destruction of human dignity.5 The violence of the paratroopers served to destroy not only its intended objects, but also the dignity of those who were witnessing the scene. The citizens, then, fought in order to regain their humanity.

More commonly transcribed as Gwangju [N.E.]
A leaflet entitled “Citizens of Democracy, Rise Up!” was distributed in the name of the Chosun University Committee for the Struggle for Democracy on May 19. This leaflet contains the following blatant language: “Those dogs, Choi Kyu-ha, Shin Hyŏn-hwak, bastards who supported the Yushin System, and that bastard, son of the Yushin dictator, Chun Doo-hwan (...)” (KKSPW 1997 II, 23). This was the first and last time such strong language was used. It seems that it was this moment when feelings of hostility were at their height. A flyer entitled “The Moment for Decisive Struggle has Arrived,” which appears to have been written on May 19 and was distributed on May 20 in the name of the Citizens’ Committee for the Struggle for Democracy and the Student Revolutionary Committee, offers the following plan of action: “Manufacture Weapons! (Prepare dynamite, Molotov cocktails, home-made explosives, flaming arrows, fire canisters, gasoline containers.) Citizens! Burn Down all the Government Buildings! Commandeer Vehicles! Seize weapons from the Special Forces! O Brothers! Let us Fight and Die!” (KKSPW 1997 II, 23). According to the testimony of Pak Nam-sŏn, head of operations for the civilian militia, prior to the eruption of massive demonstrations on the afternoon of May 20, he and many other citizens had seen and read this flyer near the public transportation terminal. This flyer reflects the mood prevailing on May 19 (Pak Nam-sŏn 1988, 136-137). These two documents take a more aggressive stance than any other printed matter distributed during the uprising.
The singing of Arirang occasioned a similar effect in other places as well. According to the testimony of Pak Nam-sŏn, who later became commander of civilian militia, sometime following May 20 (the exact time is unknown) he and others were reading a flyer somewhere near the public transportation terminal when “One of the citizens began to sing ‘We Long for Reunification,’ and everyone began to sob. When this person followed this song with Arirang, everyone broke out wailing and lamenting in the street. In no time at all the street was covered in a sea of tears. People began to chant slogans such as “Filthy Murderer Chun Doohwan, Step Down!”; “Send the Soldiers back to the 38th Parallel!”; “Bring my Child back to Life!” (Pak Nam-sŏn 1988, 137).
At the time, martial law authorities were continuously broadcasting television reports claiming that large-scale arson was being perpetrated by a “mob.” While some claim that citizens did not set fire to the MBC television station, it is clear that citizens intended to set fire to the building by throwing Molotov cocktails at it. The circumstances surrounding the MBC fire are as follows. Citizens facing off against the paratroopers attempted to negotiate with them, offering to engage in peaceful demonstrations. The citizens’ attempt to negotiate was rebuffed by the paratroopers. As citizen representatives were returning to their side, an armored personnel carrier started up and headed towards the demonstrators at full speed. Many demonstrators were able to get out of the way, but two small children were crushed by the vehicle, dying instantly. It was a sight difficult to put into words. The demonstrators, enraged, attempted to set fire to the MBC building (HHSY 1990 [3058], 661). As noted above, however, we find in several testimonials the assertion that citizens did not set fire to MBC.
Hanna Arendt states that “Only when our sense of justice is offended do we react with rage” (Arendt 1968, 63). This indicates that Arendt does not engage in an in-depth analysis of the nature of rage in human consciousness.

JUNG, Yoon-suk. Bamseom Pirates, Seoul Inferno, 09:15 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2017
JUNG, Yoon-suk. Bamseom Pirates, Seoul Inferno, 09:15 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2017
JUNG, Yoon-suk. Bamseom Pirates, Seoul Inferno, 09:15 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 2017
KALATAZOV, Mikhail. Soy Cuba, 25:47 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1968
KALATAZOV, Mikhail. Soy Cuba, 25:47 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1968
KALATAZOV, Mikhail. Soy Cuba, 25:47 mins. [excerto/excerpt], 1968
KANTOR, Tadeusz. A Funerary Vehicle (from "Wielopole, Wielopole").  metal, madeira, ferro, cabo/metal, wood, iron, cable, 1980
KANTOR, Tadeusz. A Funerary Vehicle (from "Wielopole, Wielopole").  metal, madeira, ferro, cabo/metal, wood, iron, cable, 1980
KANTOR, Tadeusz. A Funerary Vehicle (from "Wielopole, Wielopole").  metal, madeira, ferro, cabo/metal, wood, iron, cable, 1980
KANTOR, Tadeusz. A Funerary Vehicle (from "Wielopole, Wielopole").  metal, madeira, ferro, cabo/metal, wood, iron, cable, 1980
KARKOWSKI, Zbigniew. Wave Terrain, in Turnoff, 10:01 mins., Noise Asia, 2003
KARKOWSKI, Zbigniew. Wave Terrain, in Turnoff, 10:01 mins., Noise Asia, 2003
KELLY, Caleb. Cracked media: the sound of malfunction, MIT Press, 2009, pp.4-254  

Once something has been devalued by a permanent crack it is more easily destroyed.

Cracked media: the sound of malfunction

Caleb Kelly 

“Cracked media” are the tools of media playback expanded beyond their original function as a simple playback device for prerecorded sound or image. “The crack” is a point of rupture or a place of chance occurrence, where unique events take place that are ripe for exploitation toward new creative possibilities. As we will come to see, the crack takes a variety of forms, much like the practices introduced above, from gentle coaxing of faint crackle on the surface of a vinyl record to the total destruction of the playback tools. The practice utilizes cracks inherent in the media themselves— we cannot play a vinyl record without causing some damage to the surface of the disc—and leads to a creative practice that drives playback tools into territory where undesired elements of the media become the focus of the practice. For example, the practitioner might engage in the audio created by a damaged and stuttering CD, rather than trying to rectify the perceived problem by buffing the underside of the disc to remove any dust and dirt. 
It verges on cliché to suggest that a major part of the creative processes of artists and musicians is to transform and extend already existing practices and modes of practicing. This might take the form of very slight and simple shifts in methods of production, for example, experimenting with different ways to paint, such as with one’s fingers or with the tip of a paintbrush handle; or it might take a much more extreme approach, forcing unexpected sounds out of an instrument, such as a piano, by inserting objects into the strings. In both examples, preexisting and expected methods of use are extended as part of a creative process that seeks new ways to use and transform creative tools, as well as looking for novelty and unique approaches to creative practices. The use of the “crack” as a process is an example of such practice; it is this process that unifies the diversity outlined above. The inquisitive artist, on finding a technology that is new to him or her—be it a newly developed tool just released into the market or an outmoded technology found in a dusty corner of the studio—sets out to see how it works and discover the boundaries and limitations of the device. What can this tool do, and how can I use it in a way that may not have been originally intended? This might be achieved by simple manipulation or modification (taking the technology apart and trying to put it
back together), or it might be through overloading it or otherwise stretching its operating parameters, until it starts to fall apart or break down. In this process we find new ways of performing or ways of producing new and unique sounds. There is nothing new in this idea: the painter who uses the brush handle on the canvas and the guitarist who plucks the strings around the head of the electric guitar are both engaged in a similar area of practice. Experimentation with readily available tools and resources is central to contemporary artistic practice and is at the heart of the crack. Here we encounter the experimentalist who is prepared to extend his or her instrument to the point at which it breaks, perhaps never again to be used in the manner in which it was intended. This risk of sometimes great loss is turned to great gain as traditional and commonplace sound practices are themselves transformed, extended, and expanded. 
[...]
The deliberately damaged recorded object often leads to more extreme damage and finally to the complete destruction of the object. Once something has been devalued by a permanent crack it is more easily destroyed. The slightly damaged object is of less value than the pristine, newly acquired technology, and this object of reduced value quickly begins to slide toward total destruction. This path, often accelerated by the obsolescence of the technology, causes the media to become expendable and therefore ripe for destructive experimentation. 
The most extreme practices of damage and destruction are referred to here as broken media. Musicians have smashed and broken their way through numerous turntables and media including vinyl records and CDs. This destruction is often of a physical, performative nature, with records snapped during performance, cymbals crashed on top of tone arms and cartridge heads, needles smashed into the platters. The theatrics of such tactics are clear, and the audience is often shocked by such extreme destructive acts. The visually performative aspects of this destructive tactic connect 
to an often extreme audio outcome, which might take the form of a dense and complex resonant feedback loop, played at extreme volume, or the crack and snap of shattering vinyl. 
The use of extreme destruction in the work tends to lead to a high level of chance and chaos, not least because of the unknown nature of the break and the audio created out of it. 
[...]
The practice of cracked media can also be heard as deliberately playing on the expectations of an audience for music, unexpectedly throwing them into noise. This noise might well blast them out of the comfort of a safe musical performance. This tactic can only work a small number of times, however, before an audience comes to expect the blast of sound or the noisy destruction of musical instruments. Here too we can imagine an audience split between those who find the sounds to be noisy and shocking, and those who hear them simply as sounds and an expected part of the performance. 
[...]
The preparation of instruments is usually done with great care
so as not to damage the instrument, allowing it to return to its previous state. The cracked or broken preparation, however, often causes permanent damage and even destruction. The effect of these modifications is to deliberately generate sounds not originally produced as part of the recording or to generate sounds not intended to be produced by the phonograph by modifying the device itself. In the most extreme form of such modifications, the salvaging of the original recording is not possible, leading to the permanent silencing of the content of the recording. Once the record has been damaged by a preparation, by having its surface deliberately scratched or having indentations burnt into it, for example, the record is ruined for its original purpose. This causes the object to be more susceptible to further preparations and destruction, as it does not hold its original worth as an object. That is, the devaluation of the record as a functional commodity, and as a fetishized object, leads in the end to its complete destruction. What begins as an annoying scratch, which causes a rhythmic pop on playback, is pushed further by deliberately gashing the surface, causing the needle to jump grooves when it is played. 
[...]
Music and destruction, when brought together, led to a rapid and early expansion of the use of cracked media specifically in relation to the phonograph. 
The composers of Fluxus had an extremely open definition of what could be considered music. They heard music in silence, in the beating of a butterfly’s wings and even in the act of passing by a tree. Of course not all music produced by the composers of Fluxus was without audible outcomes, and numerous members took with equal zest to the expansion of audible sound through the techniques of prepared instruments and expanded techniques, which in turn gave way to all manner of cracked and broken instruments and playback equipment being included in their musical production. Fluxus took
to instruments and mediating devices, tearing them apart, smashing them with hammers and hacking into them with saws. Instruments were set upon by the musicians who extended them to the point of breakdown and the complete destruction of their musical tools. 
[...]
Oval is the forebear of the use of cracked media within the digital audio scene. The glitch the group caused is heard as cracking open the ears of digital audio users, revealing the usefulness of technological breakdown as the basis of sound generation. As glitch producers, Oval locked down their skipping CDs, sampling the sounds before looping and sequencing them into pop tunes; controlling the accident is at the center of the band’s practice. Future work in the use of breakdown and the crack either went to great lengths to control (sample and sequence) the breakdown, or to let it be much freer in allowing for the accident. In opposition to the planned accident, Disc represents the “gonzo” end of digital audio, taking CD destruction to a new level. 
The genre of rock has at times toyed with the idea of serious damage, both to the tools of production and to the body of the performer. The guitar in particular has been bashed, smashed, and burned in the hands of many including Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend of The Who. The best-known example of deliberate harm being caused to the body during a rock performance is Iggy Pop who, in one particular set, deliberately caused himself to be beaten up. Other examples include numerous punk and industrial live performances, where such injury was almost commonplace. 
In the scene based around the use of cracked media it was the group Disc that caused the most damage to the software of the CD system. The grouping consists of audio producers related to the label Vinyl Communications: J Lesser (Jason Doerck), Kid 606 (Miguel DePedro), and Matmos (Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt). The group produced three albums in 1998 before they went on to work further on their individual projects. Their interventions with the format cannot be wiped away like the marking pens used by Oval, nor simply pulled off like the tape used by Yasunao Tone. After Disc manipulates their discs they are well beyond repair. Like Christian Marclay and his use of the overabundant vinyl medium, Disc has taken to using cheap thrift-shop CDs, and destroying these valueless objects. Like vinyl in the 1980s, the CD is no longer treated as a valuable commodity: it is produced in millions of units, devalued to the point of becoming the drinks coaster mentioned on the initial release of the format. 
In performance and in the studio Disc took to completely destroying CDs. The group recorded the resulting audio without the use of sampling, instead simply letting the discs play out without additional intervention. Disc used razor blades, needles, tape and gum, sourcing their CDs from various free outlets such as promotional bins at radio stations. Disc sequences CD glitches into tracks and “locked grooves,” forming rhythmic and almost danceable tracks while still retaining the noisy and unpredictable nature of the skipping CD sounds. The group genre-bend its music as different styles are forced into humorous collisions. 
Disc member Lesser has a long history with the skipping CD: 
I’ve been obsessed with skipping CD’s since I first saw one . . . about ’84. I would always try to get them from people and fool around with them. Cut them up with razor blades, putting tape on them and stuff. The first Lesser
tape has an extended piece with a skipping Smiths CD. Morrissey sounding even more pathetic going “You-you-y-y- y-youyouyouyouyou-You . . . You.”

KING, Scott. Figure 2: 7d, 7e, 7f, 7g (Andy, Stu, Seve, Nick) threatening to topple Max Webber's model of bureaucratic structure within the modern workplace, by spending every afternoon drinking in the Red Lion, postal convite exposição/exhibition invitation postcard So klappts - Modelle des Gelingens, Mousonturm, 2005
KING, Scott. Figure 2: 7d, 7e, 7f, 7g (Andy, Stu, Seve, Nick) threatening to topple Max Webber's model of bureaucratic structure within the modern workplace, by spending every afternoon drinking in the Red Lion, postal convite exposição/exhibition invitation postcard So klappts - Modelle des Gelingens, Mousonturm, 2005
KING, Scott. Figure 2: 7d, 7e, 7f, 7g (Andy, Stu, Seve, Nick) threatening to topple Max Webber's model of bureaucratic structure within the modern workplace, by spending every afternoon drinking in the Red Lion, postal convite exposição/exhibition invitation postcard So klappts - Modelle des Gelingens, Mousonturm, 2005
KING, Scott. Figure 2: 7d, 7e, 7f, 7g (Andy, Stu, Seve, Nick) threatening to topple Max Webber's model of bureaucratic structure within the modern workplace, by spending every afternoon drinking in the Red Lion, postal convite exposição/exhibition invitation postcard So klappts - Modelle des Gelingens, Mousonturm, 2005
KIPPENBERGER, Martin, MÜLLER, Arianne, [1991] Picture a Moon, Shining in the Sky, Conversation with Martin Kippenberger, transl. Micah Magee, Starship, 2013. p. 52

Museums, last thing in the world, fun maybe for kids, like Disneyland, how do pictures learn to walk. A camera looks like this and when you turn it fast enough it looks running, in other words, complete gaga. They have a couple of retrospectives that are really really good, focused on one person. Can be fun. But actually the café is the best thing about the place. Fantastically good cake.

Picture a Moon, Shining in the Sky

Martin Kippenberger

How do you look at things in Cologne?

By accident I came across things, because someone got me out of bed. I'm so broke and you buy art, right? Come on by. So you come by and you see this and that and that and it all bores me considerably. And then comes some strange object, like a book shelf, a book shelf I could use in the apartment and then stories come of it like those of Ronald Jones, that this was Anne Frank's book shelf where she'd been hiding behind. Memphis Design, standardized. I'd seen it before but only seen it as a design. Then I thought, I could buy this, no problem. On the other hand, now I don’t go into museums anymore unless someone drags me in by the hair, like my new friend Julian Schnabel, and shows me his cream cakes there. And says that picture is going to get better when the light really warms up and shines on it, and test lighting. I don't go to museums anymore.

Or I reserve certain museums for myself, like the Jewish Museum, which is undoubtedly the most interesting museum in Frankfurt. If I haven't been there yet I send other people there and say it's good. Then I listen to what they say about it, what they have seen, and store it all up and then I might go in myself. When I really feel like going somewhere with someone or I go in alone. One must admit, as things are, most museums have incredibly bad cafés, all over the world. That one, as far as the cake is concerned, is very very good.

Where?

In Frankfurt.

Museums, last thing in the world, fun maybe for kids, like Disneyland, how do pictures learn to walk. A camera looks like this and when you turn it fast enough it looks running, in other words, complete gaga. They have a couple of retrospectives that are really really good, focused on one person. Can be fun. But actually the café is the best thing about the place. Fantastically good cake.

KLEIN, Yves. Peinture de Feu sans titre(F 64), cartão queimado montado sobre tela/burnt cardboard set on canvas, 42.5 x 34.5 cm, 1962