[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
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.

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.

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. 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
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
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
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.

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.

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 
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.]

 

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”.
 

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.

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.
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).

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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
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.

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
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. 

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
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
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
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
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
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.

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
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
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
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.

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.

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
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

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.

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

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
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.

KLUGE, Alexander.Velhos Amigos Da Energia Nuclear, in Crónica dos Sentimentos, volume I: Histórias de Base, trad. Bruno C. Duarte, BCF Editores, 2019. pp.159-160

Em apenas dois anos estas haviam-se deslocado através da rocha, ao longo de uma distância de 60 quilómetros, até alcançarem os detritos. Tinham perfurado ou corroído a camada de betão do depósito e os contentores de aço e de cobre conservados debaixo dele, apenas para chegarem à fonte de energia da qual tinham vivido outrora no interior da Terra

Velhos Amigos Da Energia Nuclear

Alexander Kluge

Ao enterrarem resíduos nucleares num dos desertos da Austrália, em cujas profundezas se encontra uma cordilheira ancestral (ainda do período em que o planeta ganhou forma), os investigadores, que, como bons contabilistas que eram, acompanhavam o progresso da eliminação de resíduos nucleares, depararam-se com um estranho fenómeno. O tesouro de resíduos nucleares tinha aparentemente trazido de novo à vida, na rocha das montanhas pré-históricas, arqueobactérias que se pensavam extintas. Em apenas dois anos estas haviam-se deslocado através da rocha, ao longo de uma distância de 60 quilómetros, até alcançarem os detritos. Tinham perfurado ou corroído a camada de betão do depósito e os contentores de aço e de cobre conservados debaixo dele, apenas para chegarem à fonte de energia da qual tinham vivido outrora no interior da Terra (num tempo em que a última agia sobre a rocha com uma força ainda maior). Tinham-se fixado agora nos resíduos atómicos e desenvolvido uma força vital inexorável. Os investigadores interrogaram-se se, uma vez alcançado o foco de atracção, elas se iriam multiplicar desmesuradamente. Não parecia ser esse o caso. Ligadas à fonte de energia a que estavam acostumadas, isto é, saciadas, não se moveram. 
A revista Nature recusou o artigo dos investigadores. Os editores tinham dificuldade em aceitar a tese segundo a qual as arqueobactérias teriam percorrido uma distância de 60 quilómetros. Como poderiam os investigadores saber que se tratava dos mesmos micróbios, no caso dos objectos que haviam encontrado nas montanhas a uma tão grande profundidade, praticamente como matéria morta, e que tinham a seguir redescoberto nos resíduos nucleares como consumidores de radioactividade? Era preciso continuar a investigar. E era até mesmo possível que as consequências da descoberta tivessem sido investigadas de forma inadequada. Podia perfeitamente dar-se o caso — escreveu um dos avaliadores, de cujo assentimento dependia a publicação na Nature — de, após a exaustão da fonte nuclear em que se tinham instalado esses hóspedes, ter irrompido de novo a antiga voracidade, de ter tido início uma selecção no interior daquela comunidade manifestamente sujeita a uma mutação, e de esses perigosos organismos vivos, contaminados como estavam, se terem dedicado a novos impulsos migratórios, como os gafanhotos, atraídos por centrais eléctricas cujos sistemas de defesa nada  podiam contra eles, se aparecessem em grande número diante dessas fortalezas.

KRISIS-GROUP, Manifesto Against Labour, publ. in Krisis, Kritik der Warengesellschaft, 31 December 1999

EN

Manifesto against Labour

Krisis-Group

1. The rule of dead labour

A corpse rules society – the corpse of labour. All powers around the globe formed an alliance to defend its rule: the Pope and the World Bank, Tony Blair and Jörg Haider, trade unions and entrepreneurs, German ecologists and French socialists. They don’t know but one slogan: jobs, jobs, jobs!

Whoever still has not forgotten what reflection is all about, will easily realise the implausibility of such an attitude. The society ruled by labour does not experience any temporary crisis; it encounters its absolute limit. In the wake of the micro-electronic revolution, wealth production increasingly became independent from the actual expenditure of human labour power to an extent quite recently only imaginable in science fiction. No one can seriously maintain any longer that this process can be halted or reversed. Selling the commodity labour power in the 21st century is as promising as the sale of stagecoaches has proved to be in the 20th century. However, whoever is not able to sell his or her labour power in this society is considered to be “superfluous” and will be disposed of on the social waste dump.

Those who do not work (labour) shall not eat! This cynical principle is still in effect; all the more nowadays when it becomes hopelessly obsolete. It is really an absurdity: Never before the society was that much a labour society as it is now when labour itself is made superfluous. On its deathbed labour turns out to be a totalitarian power that does not tolerate any gods besides itself. Seeping through the pores of everyday life into the psyche, labour controls both thought and action. No expense or pain is spared to artificially prolong the lifespan of the “labour idol”. The paranoid cry for jobs justifies the devastation of natural resources on an intensified scale even if the destructive effect for humanity was realised a long time ago. The very last obstacles to the full commercialisation of any social relationship may be cleared away uncritically, if only there is a chance for a few miserable jobs to be created. “Any job is better than no job” became a confession of faith, which is exacted from everybody nowadays.

The more it becomes obvious that the labour society is nearing its end, the more forcefully this realisation is being repressed in public awareness.

LA BOÉTIE, Étienne De. [ca. 1546-48] Anti-Dictator or Discourse On Voluntary Servitude, transl. Harry Kurz, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 1942. pp.22-26

EN

Anti-Dictator Or ‘Discourse On Voluntary Servitude’

Étienne De La Boétie

Yet, in the light of reason, it is a great misfortune to be at the beck and call of one master, for it is impossible to be sure that he is going to be kind, since it is always in his power to be cruel whenever he pleases. As for having several masters, according to the number one has, it amounts to being that many times unfortunate.

[...]

For the present I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages,  so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him.1 Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke, not constrained by a greater multitude than they, but simply, it would seem, delighted and charmed by the name of one man alone whose power they need not fear, for he is evidently the one person whose qualities they cannot admire because of his inhumanity and brutality toward them. A weakness characteristic of human kind is that we often have to obey force; we have to make concessions; we ourselves cannot always be the stronger. Therefore, when a nation is constrained by the fortune of war to serve a single clique, as happened when the city of Athens served the thirty Tyrants,2 one should not be amazed that the nation obeys, but simply be grieved by the situation; or rather, instead of being amazed or saddened, consider patiently the evil and look forward hopefully toward a happier future.

Our nature is such that the common duties of human relationship occupy a great part of the course of our life.  It is reasonable to love virtue, to esteem good deeds, to be grateful for good from whatever source we may receive it, and, often, to give up some of our comfort in order to increase the honor and advantage of some man whom we love and who deserves it. Therefore, if the inhabitants of a country have found some great personage who has shown rare foresight in protecting them in an emergency, rare boldness in defending them, rare solicitude in governing them, and if, from that point on, they contract the habit of obeying him and depending on him to such an extent that they grant him certain prerogatives, I fear that such a procedure is not prudent, inasmuch as they remove him from a position in which he was doing good and advance him to a dignity in which he may do evil. Certainly while he continues to manifest good will one need fear no harm from a man who seems to be generally well disposed.

But O good Lord! What strange phenomenon is this? What name shall we give to it? What is the nature of this misfortune?  What vice is it, or, rather, what degradation? To see an endless multitude of people not merely obeying, but driven to servility? Not ruled, but tyrannized over? These wretches have no wealth, no kin, nor wife nor children, not even life itself that they can call their own. They suffer plundering, wantonness, cruelty, not from an army, not from a barbarian horde, on account of whom they must shed their blood and sacrifice their lives, but from a single man; not from a Hercules nor from a Samson, but from a single little man. Too frequently this same little man is the most cowardly and effeminate in the nation, a stranger to the powder of battle and hesitant on the sands of the tournament; not only without energy to direct men by force, but with hardly enough virility to bed with a common woman! Shall we call subjection to such a leader cowardice? Shall we say that those who serve him are cowardly and faint-hearted? If two, if three, if four, do not defend themselves from the one, we might call that circumstance surprising but nevertheless conceivable.  In such a case one might be justified in suspecting a lack of courage. But if a hundred, if a thousand endure the caprice of a single man, should we not rather say that they lack not the courage but the desire to rise against him, and that such an attitude indicates indifference rather than cowardice? When not a hundred, not a thousand men, but a hundred provinces, a thousand cities, a million men, refuse to assail a single man from whom the kindest treatment received is the infliction of serfdom and slavery, what shall we call that? Is it cowardice? Of course there is in every vice inevitably some limit beyond which one cannot go. Two, possibly ten, may fear one; but when a thousand, a million men, a thousand cities, fail to protect themselves against the domination of one man, this cannot be called cowardly, for cowardice does not sink to such a depth, any more than valor can be termed the effort of one individual to scale a fortress, to attack an army, or to conquer a kingdom. What monstrous vice, then, is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice, a vice for which no term can be found vile enough, which nature herself disavows and our tongues refuse to name?

Place on one side fifty thousand armed men, and on the other the same number; let them join in battle, one side fighting to retain its liberty, the other to take it away; to which would you, at a guess, promise victory?  Which men do you think would march more gallantly to combat — those who anticipate as a reward for their suffering the maintenance of their freedom, or those who cannot expect any other prize for the blows exchanged than the enslavement of others?

1 At this point begins the text of the long fragment published in the Reveille-Matin des François. See Introduction, p. xvii.
2 An autocratic council of thirty magistrates that governed Athens for eight months in 404 B.C. They exhibited such monstrous despotism that the city rose in anger and drove them forth.

LA BOÉTIE, Étienne De. [ca. 1546-48] Discurso Sobre a Servidão Voluntária, trad. Manuel João Gomes, Antígona, 1997, pp.18-21 

Digno de espanto, se bem que vulgaríssimo, e mais doloroso do que impressionante, é ver milhões de homens a servir, miseravelmente curvados ao peso do jugo, esmagados não por uma força maior, mas aparentemente dominados e encantados apenas pelo nome de um só homem cujo poder não deveria assustá-los, visto que é um só, e cujas qualidades não deviam prezar, porque os trata desumana e cruelmente.

Discurso Sobre a Servidão Voluntária

Étienne De La Boétie

Vistas bem as coisas, não há infelicidade maior do que estar sujeito a um chefe; nunca se pode confiar na bondade dele, pois dele e só dele depende o ser mau quando assim lhe aprouver.

Ter vários amos é ter outros tantos motivos para se ser extremamente desgraçado.

[...]

Quero para já, se possível, esclarecer tão-somente o facto de tantos homens, tantas vilas, cidades e nações suportarem às vezes um tirano que não tem outro poder senão o que lhe é dado; que só tem o poder de os prejudicar enquanto eles quiserem suportá-lo; que só lhes pode fazer mal enquanto eles preferirem aguentá-lo a contrariá-lo.

Digno de espanto, se bem que vulgaríssimo, e mais doloroso do que impressionante, é ver milhões de homens a servir, miseravelmente curvados ao peso do jugo, esmagados não por uma força maior, mas aparentemente dominados e encantados apenas pelo nome de um só homem cujo poder não deveria assustá-los, visto que é um só, e cujas qualidades não deviam prezar, porque os trata desumana e cruelmente.

Tal é porém a fraqueza humana: levados à obediência, obrigados a contemporizar, os homens não podem sempre ser os mais fortes.

Se, portanto, uma nação é pela força das armas obrigada a servir a um só, como a cidade de Atenas aos trinta tiranos1, não espanta que ela se submeta; devemos, isso sim, lamentá-la; ou antes, não nos espantarmos nem lamentarmos mas sofrermos com paciência e esperarmos que o futuro traga dias mais felizes.

Está na nossa natureza o deixarmos que os deveres da amizade ocupem boa parte da nossa vida. É justo amarmos a virtude, estimarmos as boas acções, ficarmos gratos aos que fazem o bem, renunciarmos a certas comodidades para melhor honrarmos e favorecermos aqueles a quem amamos e que o merecem. Assim também, quando os habitantes de um país encontram uma personagem notável que dê provas de ter sido previdente a governá-los, arrojado a defendê-los e cuidadoso a guiá-los, passam a obedecer-lhe em tudo e a conceder-lhe certas prerrogativas; e isto é uma prática reprovável, porque vão acabar por afastá-lo do bem e empurrá-lo para o mal. Mas em tais casos julga-se que poderá vir sempre bem e nunca mal de quem algum dia nos fez bem.

Mas que vem a ser isto, afinal?

Que nome se deve dar a esta desgraça? Que vício, que triste vício será este: um número infinito de pessoas não só a obedecer mas a servir, não governadas mas tiranizadas, sem bens, sem pais, sem filhos, sem vida a que possam chamar sua? Suportar a pilhagem, as luxúrias, as crueldades, não de um exército, não de uma horda de bárbaros, contra os quais dariam o sangue e a vida, mas de um só? Não de um Hércules ou de um Sansão, mas de um só individuo, que muitas vezes é o mais covarde e tíbio de toda a nação, tão pouco acostumado à poeira das batalhas como à areia dos torneios, tão pouco dotado para comandar homens como para satisfazer a mais fraca mulher.

Chamaremos a isto covardia? Chamaremos vis e poltrões a estes homens submissos que assim servem?

É estranho que dois, três ou quatro se deixem esmagar por um só, mas é possível; poderão dar a desculpa de lhes ter faltado o ânimo. Mas quando vemos cem ou mil submissos a um só, ainda se poderá nesse caso dizer que não querem ou não se atrevem a desafiá-lo? Que não é covardia, e que antes será desprezo ou desdém?

Quando vemos não já cem, não já mil homens, mas cem países, mil cidades e um milhão de homens submeterem-se a um só, todos eles servos e escravos, mesmo os mais favorecidos, que nome é que isto merece? Covardia?

Todos os vícios têm um limite que não podem ultrapassar. Dois podem ter medo de um, ou até mesmo dez; mas se mil homens, se um milhão deles, se mil cidades não se defendem de um só, tal não pode ser por covardia.

A covardia não vai tão longe, da mesma forma que a valentia também tem os seus limites, não exigindo que um homem sozinho escale uma fortaleza, defronte um exército ou conquiste um reino.

Que vício monstruoso é este então que nem sequer merece o nome vil de covardia? Que a natureza nega ter criado, a que a língua recusa pôr nome?

Disponham-se de um lado cinquenta mil homens armados e outros tantos do outro lado; ponham-se em ordem de batalha, prontos para o combate, sendo uns livres e lutando pela liberdade, enquanto os outros tentam arrebatar-lha: a quais deles, por conjectura, se atribui a vitória? Quais deles irão para a luta com mais entusiasmo: os que, em recompensa deste trabalho, receberão o prémio de conservar a liberdade ou os que, dos golpes que derem ou receberem, esperam tão-somente a servidão de outrem?

1 Esparta, vencedora, impôs a Atenas, vencida, em 404 a.C. um governo de trinta aristocratas. Foram derrubados por Trasíbulo, de quem se fala mais à frente. (N. do T.)

LANG, Fritz, Metropolis, filme/film, 01:09 [excerto/excerpt], 1927
LANG, Fritz, Metropolis, filme/film, 01:09 [excerto/excerpt], 1927
LANG, Fritz, Metropolis, filme/film, 01:09 [excerto/excerpt], 1927
LAS CASAS, Bartolomé de. [1552] Brevíssima Relação da Destruição das Índias, trad. Júlio Henriques, Antígona, 1997. p.57-58 

«Vede aqui o deus dos cristãos; a ele façamos se bem vos parece areitos (que são bailes e danças) e porventura lhe agradaremos e ele lhes ordenará que nos não façam mal.»

Brevíssima Relação da Destruição das Índias

Bartolomé de Las Casas

DA ILHA DE CUBA

No ano de mil quinhentos e onze passaram à ilha de Cuba1 que é, como disse, tão comprida como de Valhadolid a Roma, aonde havia grandes províncias de gentes, e ali começaram e acabaram das sobreditas maneiras e muito mais e mais cruelmente. Sucederam aqui coisas muito assinaladas. Um cacique e grão-senhor, que tinha por nome Hatuey, que se havia passado da ilha Espanhola à de Cuba com muita da sua gente, para fugir das calamidades e desumanas obras dos cristãos, e estando naquela ilha de Cuba e dando-lhe novas certos índios que para ela se iam os cristãos, ajuntou muita ou quase toda a sua gente e lhe disse: «Sabeis já que se conta que os cristãos se encaminham, e tendes experiência do que sucedeu aos senhores fulano e fulano e fulano; e aquelas gentes de Haiti (que é a Espanhola) o mesmo vêm fazer por cá. Sabeis por acaso por que o fazem?» E disseram: «Não, só sabemos que são de sua natureza cruéis e maus.» Disse ele: Não só por isso o fazem, mas porque têm um deus a quem adoram e muito querem, e para que o adoremos assim trabalham, a fim de nos subjugar, e nos matam.» E tendo junto a si uma cesta cheia de ouro e jóias, disse: «Vede aqui o deus dos cristãos; a ele façamos se bem vos parece areitos (que são bailes e danças) e porventura lhe agradaremos e ele lhes ordenará que nos não façam mal.» E disseram todos juntos «Bem será, bem será.» E diante do ouro bailaram até se cansarem, e disse depois o senhor Hatuey:

«Pois que guardá-lo bem pode custar-nos a vida, por no-lo quererem tirar, vamos arremessá-lo a este rio.» Votaram todos que assim se fizesse, e o atiraram para um grande rio que ali havia.2

1 Expedição de Diego Velásquez. Historia, livro III, caps. 20 e 25.
2 Para um relato mais desenvolvido desta cena, vide Historia, livro III, cap. 21.

LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
LE CORBUSIER, Vers une architecture, Editions G. Crès et Cie., Paris, 1923
MAERSCH, J. M.; LOMBAERTS, Robert, Signes des temps : Pol Bury - le temps dilaté / Extrait, vídeo, 1976  
MAERSCH, J. M.; LOMBAERTS, Robert, Signes des temps : Pol Bury - le temps dilaté / Extrait, vídeo, 1976  
MAERSCH, J. M.; LOMBAERTS, Robert, Signes des temps : Pol Bury - le temps dilaté / Extrait, vídeo, 1976  
MALEVICH, Kasimir. Black Cross, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 106 × 106.5 cm, 1923
MALEVICH, Kasimir. Black Cross, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 106 × 106.5 cm, 1923
MALEVICH, Kasimir. Black Cross, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 106 × 106.5 cm, 1923
MALEVICH, Kasimir. Black Cross, óleo sobre tela/oil on canvas, 106 × 106.5 cm, 1923
MALEVICH, Kazimir. Black Square, ca. 1920-35 
MALEVICH, Kazimir. Black Square, ca. 1920-35 
MALEVICH, Kazimir. Black Square, ca. 1920-35 
MALEVICH, Kazimir. Black Square, ca. 1920-35 
MARCLAY, Christian. Guitar Drag, video, 3:00 mins. [excerto/excerpt],1999 
MARCLAY, Christian. Guitar Drag, video, 3:00 mins. [excerto/excerpt],1999 
MARCLAY, Christian. Guitar Drag, video, 3:00 mins. [excerto/excerpt],1999 
MARINETTI, Filippo Tommaso. [1909] The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism in Futurism: An Anthology, ed. Lawrence Rainey, Christine Poggi, Laura Wittman, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2009, p. 49-53

9. We intend to glorify war—the only hygiene of the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of anarchists, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and contempt for woman.

The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism

F.T. Marinetti

We had stayed up all night—my friends and I—beneath mosque lamps hanging from the ceiling. Their brass domes were filigreed, starred like our souls; just as, again like our souls, they were illuminated by the imprisoned brilliance of an electric heart. On the opulent oriental rugs, we had crushed our ancestral lethargy, arguing all the way to the final frontiers of logic and blackening reams of paper with delirious writings.

Our chests swelled with immense pride, for at that hour we alone were still awake and upright, like magnificent lighthouses or forward sentries facing an army of enemy stars that eyed us from their encampments in the sky. Alone with the stokers who bustle in front of the boilers’ hellish fires in massive ships; alone with the black specters who rummage in the red-hot bellies of locomotives launched on insane journeys; alone with drunkards who flounder alongside the city walls, with the beating of uncertain wings.

Suddenly we jumped at the tremendous noise of the large double-decker trams which jolt along outside, shimmering with multicolored lights, like villages on holiday which the flooding Po suddenly strikes and uproots, dragging them all the way to the sea, over waterfalls and through gorges.

Then the silence grew more gloomy. But as we were listening to the attenuated murmur of prayers muttered by the old canal and the bones of ailing palaces creaking above their beards of damp moss, suddenly we heard the famished automobiles roaring beneath the windows.

“Let’s go!” I said. “Let’s go, my friends! Let’s leave! At last mythology and the mystical ideal have been superseded. We are about to witness the birth of the Centaur, and soon we shall see the first Angels fly! . . . We have to shake the doors of life to test their hinges and bolts! . . . Let’s leave! Look! There, on the earth, the earliest dawn! Nothing can match the splendor of the sun’s red sword, skirmishing for the first time with our thousand-year-old shadows.”

We drew close to the three snorting beasts, tenderly stroking their swollen breasts. I stretched out on my car like a corpse in its coffin, but revived at once under the steering wheel, a guillotine blade that menaced my stomach.

The furious sweep of madness drove us outside ourselves and through the streets, deep and precipitous as the beds of spring torrents. Here and there a sickly lamplight, behind the glass of a window, taught us to despise the errant mathematics of our transitory eyes.

I screamed: “The scent, the scent alone is enough for our beasts!”

And like young lions we ran after Death, its black hide stained with pale crosses, running across the vast livid sky, alive and throbbing.

And yet we did not have an ideal Beloved who raised her sublime form all the way to the clouds, nor a cruel Queen to whom we could offer our corpses, twisted in the shape of Byzantine rings! Nothing to make us wish to die except our desire to free ourselves finally from the burden of our own courage!

And so we raced on, hurling watchdogs back against the doorways; they were flattened and curled beneath our scorching tires like shirt collars beneath a pressing iron. Death, domesticated, was overtaking me at every turn, gracefully holding out a paw, or sometimes stretching out on the ground with a noise like that of grating jawbones, casting me velvety and tender looks from every puddle.

“Let’s break out of wisdom, as if out of a horrible shell; and let’s fling ourselves, like fruits swollen with pride, into the wind’s vast and contorted mouth! . . . Let’s throw ourselves, like food, into the Unknown, not in desperation but to fill up the deep wells of the Absurd.”

Scarcely had I said these words, when I spun my car around as frantically as a dog trying to bite its own tail, and there, suddenly, were two bicyclists right in front of me, cutting me off, as if trying to prove me wrong, wobbling like two lines of reasoning, equally persuasive and yet contradictory. Their stupid argument was being discussed right in my path . . . What a bore! Damn! . . . I stopped short, and to my disgust rolled over into a ditch, with my wheels in the air. . . .

Oh! Maternal ditch, nearly full of muddy water! Fair factory drain! I gulped down your bracing slime, which reminded me of the sacred black breast of my Sudanese nurse. . . . When I climbed out, a filthy and stinking rag, from underneath the capsized car, I felt my heart—deliciously—being slashed with the red-hot iron of joy!

A crowd of fishermen armed with hooks and naturalists stricken with gout formed a thronging circle around the prodigy. With patient and meticulous attention, they rigged up a derrick and enormous iron grapnels to fish out my car, stranded like a large shark. The car slowly emerged from the ditch, leaving behind in the depths its heavy chassis of good sense and its soft upholstery of comfort, like scales.

They thought it was dead, my beautiful shark, but one caress from me was enough to revive it, and there it was again, once more alive, running on its powerful fins.

And so, our faces covered with the good factory slime—a mix of metallic scum, useless sweat, heavenly soot—our arms bruised and bandaged, we, still fearless, have dictated our first intentions to all the living men of the earth:

THE MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM

1. We intend to sing to the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.

2. Courage, boldness, and rebelliousness will be the essential elements of our poetry.

3. Up to now literature has exalted contemplative stillness, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt movement and aggression, feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the slap and the punch.

4. We affirm that the beauty of the world has been enriched by a new form of beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car with a hood that glistens with large pipes resembling a serpent with explosive breath . . . a roaring automobile that seems to ride on grapeshot—that is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.

5. We intend to hymn man at the steering wheel, the ideal axis of which intersects the earth, itself hurled ahead in its own race along the path of its orbit.

6. Henceforth poets must do their utmost, with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.

7. There is no beauty that does not consist of struggle. No work that lacks an aggressive character can be considered a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent assault launched against unknown forces to reduce them to submission under man.

8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries! . . . Why should we look back over our shoulders, when we intend to breach the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, for we have already created velocity which is eternal and omnipresent.

9. We intend to glorify war—the only hygiene of the world—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of anarchists, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and contempt for woman.

10. We intend to destroy museums, libraries, academies of every sort, and to fight against moralism, feminism, and every utilitarian or opportunistic cowardice.

11. We shall sing the great masses shaken with work, pleasure, or rebellion: we shall sing the multicolored and polyphonic tidal waves of revolution in the modern metropolis; shall sing the vibrating nocturnal fervor of factories and shipyards burning under violent electrical moons; bloated railroad stations that devour smoking serpents; factories hanging from the sky by the twisting threads of spiraling smoke; bridges like gigantic gymnasts who span rivers, flashing at the sun with the gleam of a knife; adventurous steamships that scent the horizon, locomotives with their swollen chest, pawing the tracks like massive steel horses bridled with pipes, and the oscillating flight of airplanes, whose propeller flaps at the wind like a flag and seems to applaud like a delirious crowd.

It is from Italy that we are flinging this to the world, our manifesto of burning and overwhelming violence, with which we today establish “Futurism,” for we intend to free this nation from its fetid cancer of professors, archaeologists, tour-guides, and antiquarians.

For much too long Italy has been a flea market. We intend to liberate it from the countless museums that have covered it like so many cemeteries.

Museums: cemeteries! Identical, really, in the horrible promiscuity of so many bodies scarcely known to one another. Museums: public dormitories in which someone is put to sleep forever alongside others he hated or didn’t know! Museums: absurd slaughterhouses for painters and sculptors who go on thrashing each other with blows of line and color along the disputed walls!

That once a year you might make a pilgrimage, much as one makes an annual visit to a graveyard . . . I’ll grant you that. That once a year you can deposit a wreath of flowers in front of the Mona Lisa, I permit you that . . . But I cannot countenance the idea that our sorrows are daily shepherded on a tour through museums, or our weak courage, our pathological restlessness. Why would we wish to poison ourselves? Why wish to rot?

And what is there to see in an old painting beside the laborious distortion of the artist who tried to break through the insuperable barriers which blocked his desire to express fully his dream? . . . To admire an old painting is the same as pouring our sensibility into a funerary urn, instead of casting it forward into the distance in violent spurts of creation and action.

Do you wish to waste your best strength in this eternal and useless admiration of the past, an activity that will only leave you fatally spent, diminished, crushed?

I declare, in all truth, that a daily visit to museums, libraries, and academies (cemeteries of futile efforts, Calvaries of crucified dreams, record books of broken assaults! . . . ) is as dangerous for artists as a prolonged guardianship under the thumb of one’s family is for certain young talents intoxicated with their own genius and their ambitious aims. For the sickly, the ill, or the imprisoned—let them go and visit: the admirable past is perhaps a solace for their troubles, since the future is now closed to them. . . . But we intend to know nothing of it, nothing of the past—we strong and youthful Futurists!

And so, let the glad arsonists with charred fingers come! Here they are! Here they are! . . . Go ahead! Set fire to the shelves of the libraries! . . . Turn aside the course of the canals to flood the museums! . . . Oh, the joy of seeing all the glorious old canvases floating adrift on the waters, shredded and discolored! . . . Seize your pickaxes, axes, and hammers, and tear down, pitilessly tear down the venerable cities!

The oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade left to fulfill our task.

When we are forty, others who are younger and stronger will throw us into the wastebasket, like useless manuscripts. —We want it to happen!

They will come against us, our successors; they will come from far away, from every direction, dancing to the winged cadence of their first songs, extending predatory claws, sniffing doglike at doors of the academies for the good smell of our decaying minds, long since promised to the libraries’ catacombs.

But we won’t be there. . . . They will find us, at last—one wintry night—in an open field, beneath a sad roof drummed by monotonous rain, crouched beside our trembling airplanes and in the act of warming our hands by the dirty little fire made by the books we are writing today, flaming beneath the flight of our imaginings.

Panting with contempt and anxiety, they will storm around us, and all of them, exasperated by our lofty daring, will attempt to kill us, driven by a hatred all the more implacable because their hearts will be intoxicated with love and admiration for us.

In their eyes, strong and healthy Injustice will radiantly burst. —Art, in fact, can be nothing if not violence, cruelty, and injustice.

The oldest of us is thirty: and yet already we have cast away treasures, thousands of treasures of force, love, boldness, cunning, and raw will power; have thrown them away impatiently, furiously, heedlessly, without hesitation, without rest, screaming for our lives. Look at us! We are still not weary! Our hearts feel no tiredness because they are fed with fire, hatred, and speed! . . . Are you astounded? Of course you are, because you can’t even recall having ever been alive! Standing erect on the summit of the world, yet once more we fling our challenge to the stars!

You raise objections? . . . Stop! Stop! We know them . . . We’ve understood! . . . The refined and mendacious mind tells us that we are the summation and continuation of our ancestors—maybe! Suppose it so! But what difference does it make? We don’t want to listen! . . . Woe to anyone who repeats those infamous words to us! Lift up your heads! Standing erect on the summit of the world, yet once more we fling our challenge to the stars!

MARX, Karl; ENGELS, Friedrich. [1848] Manifesto do Partido Comunista, Edições Avante, Lisboa, 1997, p. 39

Todas as relações fixas e enferrujadas, com o seu cortejo de vetustas representações e intuições, são dissolvidas, todas as recém-formadas envelhecem antes de poderem ossificar-se. Tudo o que era sólido se dissolve no ar

Manifesto do Partido Comunista

Karl Marx e Friedrich Engels

A burguesia não pode existir sem revolucionar permanentemente os instrumentos de produção, portanto as relações de produção, portanto as relações sociais todas. A conservação inalterada do antigo modo de produção era, pelo contrário, a condição primeira de existência de todas as anteriores classes industriais. O permanente revolucionamento da produção, o ininterrupto abalo de todas as condições sociais, a incerteza e o movimento eternos distinguem a época burguesa de todas as outras. Todas as relações fixas e enferrujadas, com o seu cortejo de vetustas representações e intuições, são dissolvidas, todas as recém-formadas envelhecem antes de poderem ossificar-se. Tudo o que era sólido se dissolve no ar, tudo o que era sagrado é dessagrado, e os homens são por fim obrigados a encarar com olhos prosaicos a sua posição na vida, as suas ligações recíprocas.

MATTA-CLARK, Gordon. Days' End, filme Super 8 transferido para vídeo/Super 8 film transferred to video, 01:29 min [excerto/excerpt], 1975
MATTA-CLARK, Gordon. Days' End, filme Super 8 transferido para vídeo/Super 8 film transferred to video, 01:29 min [excerto/excerpt], 1975
MATTA-CLARK, Gordon. Days' End, filme Super 8 transferido para vídeo/Super 8 film transferred to video, 01:29 min [excerto/excerpt], 1975
McKOY, Kirk. manifestantes após o veredicto do julgamento do caso Rodney King, L.A. /Protestors after the verdict on Rodney King's assault case, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, 29 Abril/April,1992
McKOY, Kirk. manifestantes após o veredicto do julgamento do caso Rodney King, L.A. /Protestors after the verdict on Rodney King's assault case, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, 29 Abril/April,1992
McKOY, Kirk. manifestantes após o veredicto do julgamento do caso Rodney King, L.A. /Protestors after the verdict on Rodney King's assault case, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, 29 Abril/April,1992
McKOY, Kirk. manifestantes após o veredicto do julgamento do caso Rodney King, L.A. /Protestors after the verdict on Rodney King's assault case, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, 29 Abril/April,1992
MILNE, Alexis. Blockbusters, documentação de/documentation of performance, 03:55 mins., 2012
MILNE, Alexis. Blockbusters, documentação de/documentation of performance, 03:55 mins., 2012
MILNE, Alexis. Blockbusters, documentação de/documentation of performance, 03:55 mins., 2012
MINARD, Charles Joseph. Carte figurative et approximative représentant pour l'année 1858 les émigrants du globe, les pays d´où ils partent et ceux oú ils arrivent, 51 x 69 cm, 1862
MINARD, Charles Joseph. Carte figurative et approximative représentant pour l'année 1858 les émigrants du globe, les pays d´où ils partent et ceux oú ils arrivent, 51 x 69 cm, 1862
MINARD, Charles Joseph. Carte figurative et approximative représentant pour l'année 1858 les émigrants du globe, les pays d´où ils partent et ceux oú ils arrivent, 51 x 69 cm, 1862
MINARD, Charles Joseph. Carte figurative et approximative représentant pour l'année 1858 les émigrants du globe, les pays d´où ils partent et ceux oú ils arrivent, 51 x 69 cm, 1862
MORGAN, Edward. MIT scientist's translation of X-ray data from the black hole GRS 1915+105 into audio signals, 01:37 mins.
MORGAN, Edward. MIT scientist's translation of X-ray data from the black hole GRS 1915+105 into audio signals, 01:37 mins.
PAIVA, João Vasco. Island of Gods, super8, 37:33 mins., 2017 
PAIVA, João Vasco. Island of Gods, super8, 37:33 mins., 2017 
PAIVA, João Vasco. Island of Gods, super8, 37:33 mins., 2017 
PARIS, Claude. Motins em Marselha após confrontos com a polícia nas manifestações dos Coletes Amarelos/A police car burns after clashes between police and protesters, in Marseille, southern France, AP, 2018
PARIS, Claude. Motins em Marselha após confrontos com a polícia nas manifestações dos Coletes Amarelos/A police car burns after clashes between police and protesters, in Marseille, southern France, AP, 2018
PARIS, Claude. Motins em Marselha após confrontos com a polícia nas manifestações dos Coletes Amarelos/A police car burns after clashes between police and protesters, in Marseille, southern France, AP, 2018
PARIS, Claude. Motins em Marselha após confrontos com a polícia nas manifestações dos Coletes Amarelos/A police car burns after clashes between police and protesters, in Marseille, southern France, AP, 2018
POST, Frans. Paisagem com plantação (O Engenho), óleo sobre madeira/oil on wood, 71,5 X 91,5 cm, 1668
POST, Frans. Paisagem com plantação (O Engenho), óleo sobre madeira/oil on wood, 71,5 X 91,5 cm, 1668
POST, Frans. Paisagem com plantação (O Engenho), óleo sobre madeira/oil on wood, 71,5 X 91,5 cm, 1668
POST, Frans. Paisagem com plantação (O Engenho), óleo sobre madeira/oil on wood, 71,5 X 91,5 cm, 1668
PRATELLA, Francesco Balilla. [1913] La Guerra, for piano, in Musica Futurista: Antologia Sonora, Daniele Lombardi, Cramps Records,1980
PRATELLA, Francesco Balilla. [1913] La Guerra, for piano, in Musica Futurista: Antologia Sonora, Daniele Lombardi, Cramps Records,1980
PURVIS, Robert. The Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens, Threatened with Disfranchisement, to the People of Philadelphia, pamphlet, 1838
The text attempted to persuade Philadelphians to vote against the ratification of a new constitution for Pennsylvania in 1838 because the word “white” had been inserted prior to “freemen” as a qualification for voting.
PURVIS, Robert. The Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens, Threatened with Disfranchisement, to the People of Philadelphia, pamphlet, 1838
The text attempted to persuade Philadelphians to vote against the ratification of a new constitution for Pennsylvania in 1838 because the word “white” had been inserted prior to “freemen” as a qualification for voting.
PURVIS, Robert. The Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens, Threatened with Disfranchisement, to the People of Philadelphia, pamphlet, 1838
The text attempted to persuade Philadelphians to vote against the ratification of a new constitution for Pennsylvania in 1838 because the word “white” had been inserted prior to “freemen” as a qualification for voting.
PURVIS, Robert. The Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens, Threatened with Disfranchisement, to the People of Philadelphia, pamphlet, 1838
The text attempted to persuade Philadelphians to vote against the ratification of a new constitution for Pennsylvania in 1838 because the word “white” had been inserted prior to “freemen” as a qualification for voting.
RED KRAYOLA, ART & LANGUAGE, Portrait Of George W. Bush, in Five American Portraits, Drag City, 12:16 mins., 2010
RED KRAYOLA, ART & LANGUAGE, Portrait Of George W. Bush, in Five American Portraits, Drag City, 12:16 mins., 2010
REISZ, François. Untitled, lápis sobre papel/pencil on paper, 1940-1945  
REISZ, François. Untitled, lápis sobre papel/pencil on paper, 1940-1945  
REISZ, François. Untitled, lápis sobre papel/pencil on paper, 1940-1945  
REISZ, François. Untitled, lápis sobre papel/pencil on paper, 1940-1945  
ROBERT, Hubert, Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins, oil in canvas, 114.5cm x 146 cm, 1796
ROBERT, Hubert, Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins, oil in canvas, 114.5cm x 146 cm, 1796
ROBERT, Hubert, Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins, oil in canvas, 114.5cm x 146 cm, 1796
ROBERT, Hubert, Imaginary View of the Grande Galerie in the Louvre in Ruins, oil in canvas, 114.5cm x 146 cm, 1796
SEBALD, W.G. [1992] Os Emigrantes, trad. Telma Costa, Quetzal, 2013, p.181

Laura dizia que ele tinha trabalhado durante muito tempo num projecto de império em que nunca se passasse nada, pois odiava mortalmente iniciativas, evoluções, grandes acontecimentos, mudanças e incidentes de toda a ordem.

Os Emigrantes

W.G. Sebald

(...) ou ao lado do choupo do nosso jardim, ou num banco do Parque Luitpold, ou na esplanada do Wittelsbacher Hof, lia o jornal, tomava ocasionais notas e ficava simplesmente perdido nos seus pensamentos. Laura dizia que ele tinha trabalhado durante muito tempo num projecto de império em que nunca se passasse nada, pois odiava mortalmente iniciativas, evoluções, grandes acontecimentos, mudanças e incidentes de toda a ordem.

SEBALD, W. G. [2003] Campo Santo, Random House, 2005, pp.59-62

is the closing episode of a story that looks far back into our dark past, and that even in my childhood filled me with uneasy premonitions.

Campo Santo

W. G. Sebald

Ferdinand Gregorovius, who traveled in Corsica in 1852, mentions an entomologist from Dresden whom he met in the hills above Sartène, and who told him that the island had struck him as a paradise garden on his first visit, particularly because of the small size of its fauna species, and indeed, writes Gregorovius, soon after he met the Saxon entomologist he had several sightings in the forest of Bavella of the Tyrrhenian red deer, Cervus elaphus corsicanus, now long since extinct, an animal of dwarfish stature and almost oriental appearance, with a head much too large for the rest of its body, and eyes wide with fear in constant expectation of death.

Although the game that once lived in such abundance in the forests of the island has been eradicated almost without trace today, the fever of the chase still breaks out on Corsica every September. During my excursions into the interior of the island I repeatedly felt as if the entire male population were participating in a ritual of destruction which long ago became pointless. The older men, usually wearing blue dungarees, are posted beside the road all the way up into the mountains; the young men, in a kind of paramilitary gear, drive around in jeeps and cross-country vehicles as if they thought the countryside were occupied, or they were expecting an enemy invasion. Unshaven, carrying heavy rifles, menacing in their manner, they look like those Croatian and Serbian militiamen who destroyed their native land in their deranged belligerence; and, like those Marlboro-style heroes of the Yugoslavian civil war, the Corsican hunters are not to be trifled with if you happen to stray into their territory.

More than once on such meetings they plainly indicated that they did not want to talk to some chance-come hiker about their sanguinary business, and sent me on my way with a gesture making it clear that anyone who did not get out of the danger zone very quickly might easily be shot down. Once, a little way below Evisa, I tried to strike up a conversation with one of the hunters posted beside the road and obviously taking his task very seriously, a short man of around sixty who was sitting, his double-barreled shotgun across his knees, on the low stone balustrade which fences off the road at that point from the ravine of the Gorges de Spelunca, where it drops to two hundred meters below. The cartridges he had with him were very large, and the belt carrying them was so broad that it reached like a leather jerkin from his belly to halfway up his chest. When I asked him what he was looking for, he simply replied sangliers (wild boars), as if that alone must suffice to send me packing. He would not have his photograph taken, but warded me off with his outspread hand just as guerrillas do in front of the camera.

In the Corsican newspapers, the so-called ouverture de la chasse (the start of the hunting season) is one of the main subjects of reporting in September, together with the never-ending accounts of the bombing of police stations, local authority tax offices, and other public institutions, and it even casts into the shade the excitement over the start of the new school year which seizes annually upon the entire French nation. Articles are published about the state of the game preserves in the various regions, last season’s hunting, prospects for the present campaign, and indeed hunting in general in every imaginable form. And the papers print photographs of men of martial appearance emerging from the maquis with their guns over their shoulders, or posing around a dead boar. The main subject, however, is the lamentable fact that fewer and fewer hares and partridges can be found every year.

Mon mari, complains the wife of a hunter from Vissavona to a Corse-Matin reporter, for instance, mon mari, qui rentrait toujours avec cinq ou six perdrix, on a tout juste pris une. In a way the contempt she expresses for the husband coming home empty-handed from his foray into the wilderness, the indisputably ludicrous appearance of the ultimately unsuccessful hunter in the eyes of his wife, women always having been excluded from the hunt, is the closing episode of a story that looks far back into our dark past, and that even in my childhood filled me with uneasy premonitions.

STRAVINSKY, Igor. [1913] Le Sacré du Printemps, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philarmonie, Deutsche Grammophon, 64:06 mins., 2006
STRAVINSKY, Igor. [1913] Le Sacré du Printemps, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philarmonie, Deutsche Grammophon, 64:06 mins., 2006
THOMPSON, E. P. Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism, in Past & Present No. 38 (Dec., 1967), pp. 56-97 , Oxford University Press, 1967    

Sidereal time, which has been present since literature began, has now moved at one step from the heavens into the home. 

Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism

E. P. Thompson

IT IS COMMONPLACE THAT THE YEARS BETWEEN I3OO AND 1650 SAW within the intellectual culture of Western Europe important changes in the apprehension of time.1 This is a very early clock: Chaucer (unlike Chauntecleer) was a Londoner, and was aware of the times of Court, of urban organization, and of that "merchant's time" which Jacques Le Goff, in a suggestive article in Annales, has opposed to the time of the medieval church.2 [...] Sidereal time, which has been present since literature began, has now moved at one step from the heavens into the home. 

[...]

However, this gross impressionism is unlikely to advance the present enquiry: how far, and in what ways, did this shift in time-sense affect labour discipline, and how far did it influence the inward apprehension of time of working people? If the transition to mature industrial society entailed a severe restructuring of working habits — new disciplines, new incentives, and a new human nature upon which these incentives could bite effectively — how far is this related to changes in the inward notation of time ? 

[...] 

It is well known that among primitive peoples the measurement of time is commonly related to familiar processes in the cycle of work or of domestic chores. Evans-Pritchard has analysed the time-sense of the Nuer: 

The daily timepiece is the cattle clock, the round of pastoral tasks, and the time of day and the passage of time through a day are to a Nuer primarily the succession of these tasks and their relation to one another. 

Among the Nandi an occupational definition of time evolved covering not only each hour, but half hours of the day — at 5-30 in the morning the oxen have gone to the grazing-ground, at 6 the sheep have been unfastened, at 6-30 the sun has grown, at 7 it has become warm, at 7-30 the goats have gone to the grazing-ground, etc. — an uncommonly well-regulated economy. In a similar way terms evolve for the measurement of time intervals. In Madagascar time might be measured by "a rice-cooking" (about half an hour) or "the frying of a locust" (a moment). The Cross River natives were reported as saying "the man died in less than the time in which maize is not yet completely roasted" (less than fifteen minutes).3

It is not difficult to find examples of this nearer to us in cultural time. Thus in seventeenth-century Chile time was often measured in "credos": an earthquake was described in 1647 as lasting for the period of two credos; while the cooking-time of an egg could be judged by an Ave Maria said aloud. In Burma in recent times monks rose at daybreak "when there is light enough to see the veins in the hand".4

[...]

Such a disregard for clock time could of course only be possible in a crofting and fishing community whose framework of marketing and administration is minimal, and in which the day's tasks (which might vary from fishing to farming, building, mending of nets, thatching, making a cradle or a coffin) seem to disclose themselves, by the logic of need, before the crofter's eyes5. But his account will serve to emphasize the essential conditioning in differing notations of time provided by different work-situations and their relation to "natural" rhythms. Clearly hunters must employ certain hours of the night to set their snares. Fishing and seafaring people must integrate their lives with the tides. A petition from Sunderland in 1800 includes the words "considering that this is a seaport in which many people are obliged to be up at all hours of the night to attend the tides and their affairs upon the river".6 The operative phrase is "attend the tides": the patterning of social time in the seaport follows upon the rhythms of the sea; and this appears to be natural and comprehensible to fishermen or seamen: the compulsion is nature's own. 

In a similar way labour from dawn to dusk can appear to be "natural" in a farming community, especially in the harvest months: nature demands that the grain be harvested before the thunderstorms set in. And we may note similar "natural" work-rhythms which attend other rural or industrial occupations: sheep must be attended at lambing time and guarded from predators; cows must be milked; the charcoal fire must be attended and not burn away through the turfs (and the charcoal burners must sleep beside it); once iron is in the making, the furnaces must not be allowed to fail. 

The notation of time which arises in such contexts has been described as task-orientation. It is perhaps the most effective orientation in peasant societies, and it remains important in village and domestic industries/ It has by no means lost all relevance in rural parts of Britain today. Three points may be proposed about task-orientation. First, there is a sense in which it is more humanly comprehensible than timed labour. The peasant or labourer appears to attend upon what is an observed necessity. Second, a community in which task-orientation is common appears to show least demarcation between "work" and "life". Social intercourse and labour are intermingled — the working-day lengthens or contracts according to the task — and there is no great sense of conflict between labour and "passing the time of day". Third, to men accustomed to labour timed by the clock, this attitude to labour appears to be wasteful and lacking in urgency.7

Such a clear distinction supposes, of course, the independent peasant or craftsman as referent. But the "question of task-orientation becomes greatly more complex at the point where labour is employed. The entire family economy of the small farmer may be task-orientated; but within it there may be a division of labour, and allocation of roles, and the discipline of an employer-employed relationship between the farmer and his children. 'Even here time is beginning to become money, the employer's money. As soon as actual hands are employed the shift from task-orientation to timed labour is marked. 

[...]

Those who are employed experience a distinction between their employer's time and their "own" time. And the employer must use the time of his labour, and see it is not wasted: not the task but the value of time , when reduced to money is dominant. Time is now currency: it is not passed but spent. 

[...]

It is a problem which the peoples of the developing world must live through and grow through. One hopes that they will be wary of pat, manipulative models, which present the working masses only as an inert labour force. And there is a sense, also, within the advanced industrial countries, in which this has ceased to be a problem placed in the past. For we are now at a point where sociologists are discussing the "problem" of leisure And a part of the problem is: how did it come to be a problem ? Puritanism, in its marriage of convenience with industrial capitalism, was the agent which converted men to new valuations of time; which taught children even in their infancy to improve each shining hour; and which saturated men's minds with the equation, time is money.8 One recurrent form of revolt within Western industrial capitalism, whether bohemian or beatnik, has often taken the form of flouting the urgency of respectable timevalues. And the interesting question arises: if Puritanism was a necessary part of the work-ethos which enabled the industrialized world to break out of the poverty-stricken economies of the past, will the Puritan valuation of time begin to decompose as the pressures of poverty relax ? Is it decomposing already ? Will men begin to lose that restless urgency, that desire to consume time purposively, which most people carry just as they carry a watch on their wrists ? 

If we are to have enlarged leisure, in an automated future, the problem is not "how are men going to be able to consume all these additional time-units of leisure?" but "what will be the capacity for experience of the men who have this undirected time to live ?" If we maintain a Puritan time-valuation, a commodity-valuation, then it is a question of how this time is put to use, or how it is exploited by the leisure industries. 

1 Lewis Mumford makes suggestive claims in Technics and Civilization (London, 1934), esp. pp. 12-18, 196-9: see also S. de Grazia, Of Time, Work, and Leisure (New York, 1962), Carlo M. Cipolla, Clocks and Culture 1300-1700 (London, 1967), and Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language (New York, 1959)
2 J . le Goff, "Au Moyen Age: Temps de L'Eglise et temps du marchand", Annales, E.S.C., xv (1960); and the same author's "Le temps du travail dans le 'crise' du XIVe Siècle: du temps médiéval au temps moderne", Le Moyen Age, lxix (1963).
3 E. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer (Oxford, 1940), pp. 100-4; M. P. Nilsson, Primitive Time Reckoning (Lund, 1920), pp. 32-3, 42; P. A. Sorokin and R. K. Merton, "Social Time: a Methodological and Functional Analysis", Amer.Jl. Sociol., xlii (1937); A. I. Hallowell, "Temporal Orientation in Western Civilization and in a Pre-Literate Society", Amer. Anthrop., new ser. xxxix(1937). Other sources for primitive time reckoning are cited in H. G. Alexander, Time as Dimension and History (Albuquerque, 1945), p. 26, and Beate R. Salz, "The Human Element in Industrialization", Econ. Devel. and Cult. Change, iv (1955). esp. pp. 94-114.

4 E. P. Salas, "L'Evolution de la notion du temps et les horlogers a l’époque coloniale au Chili", Annales E.S.C., xxi (1966), p. 146; Cultural Patterns and Technical Change, ed. M. Mead (New York, UNESCO, 1953), p. 75.
5 The most important event in the relation of the islands to an external economy in Synge’s time was the arrival of the steamer, whose times might be greatly affected by tide and weather. See Synge, The Aran Islands (Dublin, 1907), pp. 115-6.
6 12 Public Rec. Off., W.O. 40/17. It is of interest to note other examples of the recognition that seafaring time conflicted with urban routines: the Court of Admiralty was held to be always open, "for strangers and merchants, and sea faring men, must take the opportunity of tides and winds, and cannot, without ruin and great prejudice attend the solemnity of courts and dilatory pleadings" (see E. Vansittart Neale, Feasts and Fasts [London, 1845], p. 249), while in some Sabbatarian legislation an exception was made for fishermen who sighted a shoal off-shore on the Sabbath day.
7 Henri Lefebvre, Critique de la Vie Quotidienne (Paris, 1958), ii, pp. 52-6, prefers a distinction between "cyclical time" — arising from changing seasonal occupations in agriculture — and the "linear time" of urban, industrial organization. More suggestive is Lucien Febvre's distinction between "Le temps vécu et le temps-mesure", La Problème de L'Incroyance au XVIe Siècle (Paris, 1947), p. 431. A somewhat schematic examination of the organization of tasks in primitive economies is in Stanley H. Udy, Organisation of Work (New Haven, 1959), ch. 2.
8 Suggestive comments on this equation are in Lewis Mumford and S. de Grazia, cited note I above; Paul Diesing, Reason in Society (Urbana, 1962), pp. 24-8; Hans Meyerhoff, Time in Literature (Univ. of California, 1955), pp. 106-19.

TINGUELY, Jean, Homage to New York, 1960
TINGUELY, Jean, Homage to New York, 1960
TINGUELY, Jean, Homage to New York, 1960
VAN EYCK, Aldo. Aldo van Eyck's playground at the Buskenblaserstraat in Amsterdam, fotografia/photo, 1947-78 
VAN EYCK, Aldo. Aldo van Eyck's playground at the Buskenblaserstraat in Amsterdam, fotografia/photo, 1947-78 
VAN EYCK, Aldo. Aldo van Eyck's playground at the Buskenblaserstraat in Amsterdam, fotografia/photo, 1947-78 
VAN EYCK, Aldo. Aldo van Eyck's playground at the Buskenblaserstraat in Amsterdam, fotografia/photo, 1947-78 
VON HAUSSWOLFF, Carl Michael, ELGGREN, Leif. The Kingdoms Of Elgaland-Vargaland, 1992

With effect from the 14th of March 1992, we are annexing and occupying the following territories:

i – All border territories between all countries on earth, and all areas (up to a width of 10 nautical miles) outside all countries’ territorial waters. We designate these territories our physical territory. These territories, usually called No Man's Land or Border Crossings, are in constant flux. They change every day, and in reports from all over the world we notice that new territories appear (e.g. the North and South Korean border), disappear (the East and West German border in 1989) and reappear (the Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian borders). We also observe nations’ fishing territories waxing and waning. There are frequent foreign violations at sea; vehicles with cargo, refugees, tourists, political and military manoeuvres; animals and fishes walk and swim freely, insects and birds buzz and sing. Theoretically/practically all past existing areas such as the borders between Texas and the USA, between England and Scotland or between Skåne (at the time belonging to Denmark) and Sweden are annexed by The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland.

ii – Mental and perceptive territories such as the Hypnagogue State (civil), the Escapistic Territory (civil) and the Virtual Room (digital). The civil territories function as psychic and are self-contained. They appear in every citizen’s mind, by will or by chance.

The Kingdoms Of Elgaland-Vargaland

Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Leif Elggren

i – All border territories between all countries on earth, and all areas (up to a width of 10 nautical miles) outside all countries’ territorial waters. We designate these territories our physical territory. These territories, usually called No Man's Land or Border Crossings, are in constant flux. They change every day, and in reports from all over the world we notice that new territories appear (e.g. the North and South Korean border), disappear (the East and West German border in 1989) and reappear (the Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian borders). We also observe nations’ fishing territories waxing and waning. There are frequent foreign violations at sea; vehicles with cargo, refugees, tourists, political and military manoeuvres; animals and fishes walk and swim freely, insects and birds buzz and sing. Theoretically/practically all past existing areas such as the borders between Texas and the USA, between England and Scotland or between Skåne (at the time belonging to Denmark) and Sweden are annexed by The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland.

ii – Mental and perceptive territories such as the Hypnagogue State (civil), the Escapistic Territory (civil) and the Virtual Room (digital). The civil territories function as psychic and are self-contained. They appear in every citizen’s mind, by will or by chance. The Hypnagogue State is the border area between waking and sleeping. A dreamspace where the citizen’s consciousness is still in operation and where the physical sensation of limitlessness occurs. Here, the citizen can potentially stay in KREV; “I understand this place as KREV”, the citizen declares and proceeds into the area. The Escapistic Territory functions in the same way as the Hypnagogue State, but with the difference that here the citizen is awake. It’s an area to dwell in when wanting to “go somewhere else”. It’s a personal projection, very much alike daydreaming, where your mind is occupied by a fantasy or an interesting thought; alone with your brain, with a mind sucking novel or a film, in a poem or a musical piece. The Escapistic Territory holds many possibilities and also coincides with the shamanistic techniques of mental space travel. Other mental and civil territories could also be annexed such as the borderline zones of mental diseases, near death experiences, hypnosis and mesmerism, telekinetics, telepathy, suggestions, strokes, delirium, various influences of drugs (such as peyote, LSD, ecstasy, cannabis, thinner, ether, alcohol etc), speaking in tongues, religious ecstasy, artistic inspiration and expiration, possession by spirit, good or evil, dusk and dawn, terror, love, orgasm, interference, the state of contradiction or hesitation. Other potentially closely-related territories could be hard disc crashes, computer viruses, frequencies, fission or the fusion of particles. The Digital Room is, as the name proposes, a digitally programmed territory. Currently the largest territorial port of entry, KREV, functions within the so-called Internet’s world wide web (first located at http://www.it.kth.se/KREV/, then at http://www.krev.org/, and now here at http://www.elgaland-vargaland.org/). Of course there are a lot of entrances via other sites as well. We also see CD-Roms and floppydisks with VR programs or material on KREV as potentially occupiable territories. The KREV Digital Room is, so far, a borderless space; an existing global meeting place.

Countless web surfers slide in and out of the place, as any tourist, and the exchange of territorial expansions by KREV and any other digital territory is constant and unrestricted. The nation expands into an infinite network of unlimited territory accessible for anyone with the needed gear. We further see the space occupied by the factual universal as an enormous opportunity and possibility for new exploitation of incomprehensible areas and territories. We, as we usually say, stay in contact with over 200 planets and we will soon be able to conduct chartered trips for our holidaying citizens to new and interesting areas, physical as well as psychical and digital. One of the concepts of Elgaland-Vargaland is the promotion of breaking down global political criminality (that is: most of all present political structure) and economical centralisation (that is: nearly all present economical functions) by propaganda, infiltration and idealism. Do it your own way, but only if you want to. - We are all born equal to this planet and have the right to our lives and the self-evident right to grow and prosper. In the world of today the unjustice situation is increasing all over. Most people on planet Earth are living like slaves and a few is ruling. This is by tradition a conventional fact in the history of mankind. Nevertheless it’s important to strike back.

As Citizens of The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, we are immortal. There is no beginning and there is no end. We are all encouraged by this gift and basic privilege, we can all use it as a powerful tool and a fantastic opportunity to overcome and use fear, feelings of worthlessness and inferiority as well as hubris, megalomania and blind joy. To grow in reciprocal care and become those holy individuals we are meant to be.

On the 27th of May 1992 at 12 noon, we proclaimed the state of Elgaland-Vargaland.

WATT, James, Watt steam engine/Desenho da Máquina a vapor de 1780, in The Popular science monthly, Vol. XII, D. Appleton and Company, New York, Novembro/November 1877- Abril/April 1878
WATT, James, Watt steam engine/Desenho da Máquina a vapor de 1780, in The Popular science monthly, Vol. XII, D. Appleton and Company, New York, Novembro/November 1877- Abril/April 1878
WATT, James, Watt steam engine/Desenho da Máquina a vapor de 1780, in The Popular science monthly, Vol. XII, D. Appleton and Company, New York, Novembro/November 1877- Abril/April 1878
WATT, James, Watt steam engine/Desenho da Máquina a vapor de 1780, in The Popular science monthly, Vol. XII, D. Appleton and Company, New York, Novembro/November 1877- Abril/April 1878
WILLIAMS, Evan Calder, Carta Aberta Aos Que Condenam As Pilhagens, trad. Miguel Cardoso, Edições Antipáticas, Lisboa, 2011, p.3-4

Presumo que dirão o mesmo da nossa posição, embora usando diferentes adjectivos. Pueril, destrutiva, irrazoável, e ingénua são os primeiros que me ocorrem, isto se o vosso historial de acusações servir de indicador. Infelizmente, dada a estrutura dos media e dos fluxos de informação, não podemos deixar de ouvir o que vocês dizem, ao passo que vocês podem muito bem continuar a ignorar aquilo que nós fazemos. Pelo menos até que uma data de pessoas comece a incendiar a vossa cidade, altura em que porventura, num lapso de fraqueza, se dignem a ouvir aqueles que têm umas ideias sobre o assunto. Não que isso seja muito provável. Vivemos em tempos ruidosos.

Carta Aberta aos que Condenam as Pilhagens

Evan Calder Williams

Caros todos,

Temo que nada tenhamos a dizer uns aos outros.

O que se segue pode por isso constituir uma das metades de um diálogo, da mesma forma que berrar em frente a uma jukebox feita de gelo o seria. É concebível que o próprio esforço de falar – uma certa quantidade de ar quente – amoleça um pouco a superfície, mas não deixa por esse facto de ser uma discussão unilateral. E não implica, igualmente, que vocês possam ou cheguem de facto a interromper a repetição dos discos que vos foram dados para tocar, vossas frases e evasões em circuito fechado e contínuo. 
Afinal de contas, já ouvimos o que têm para nos dizer. Também nós conhecemos as letras de cor. Na melhor das hipóteses, achamo-las profundamente duvidosas e, na pior, uma papa biliosa, racista, banal e assassina, imprópria para as nossas bocas e ouvidos. E não é que haja por aí muita coisa melhorzinha, nos dias que correm.
Presumo que dirão o mesmo da nossa posição, embora usando diferentes adjectivos. Pueril, destrutiva, irrazoável, e ingénua são os primeiros que me ocorrem, isto se o vosso historial de acusações servir de indicador. Infelizmente, dada a estrutura dos media e dos fluxos de informação, não podemos deixar de ouvir o que vocês dizem, ao passo que vocês podem muito bem continuar a ignorar aquilo que nós fazemos. Pelo menos até que uma data de pessoas comece a incendiar a vossa cidade, altura em que porventura, num lapso de fraqueza, se dignem a ouvir aqueles que têm umas ideias sobre o assunto. Não que isso seja muito provável. Vivemos em tempos ruidosos.
É pena, porque na verdade até concordamos numa série de pontos. Isto porque vocês classificam estes motins, e estas pilhagens, como oportunistas. Como algo de irrazoável e estúpido. Que “isto não é um protesto, é um motim”. Que “não são políticos”. Que estamos perante “indivíduos que usam a desculpa do que aconteceu nas primeiras duas noites para garantir que a terceira seja ainda pior.” Que isto é “o caos”. Que isto é “criminalidade pura e simples”. Que eles “não têm o direito” de fazer isto. Que “benefício algum, a longo prazo” poderá resultar do acto de “pilhar uma loja de bairro”, “incendiar um autocarro” ou “gamar um telemóvel”. Acima de tudo, como vocês, Ministros da Administração Interna, gostam de colocar a questão: “Não há justificação possível para a violência. Não há qualquer justificação para a pilhagem.”

E nós concordamos. 

Existem entre nós alguns pontos de divergência, é certo. Nós não vemos “esta gente” como “símios”, “ratazanas” ou “cães”. Mas acreditamos que vocês os vêm assim mesmo e que as razões da vossa crença não são os acontecimentos recentes: estes são apenas uma confirmação daquilo que vocês sempre pensaram acerca dos que são definitivamente mais pobres e frequentemente mais escuros do que vocês. Quanto ao argumento de que o erro consistiu em não “termos ajudado a polícia a aproximar-se mais e mais cedo da família de Mark Duggan”, parece-me que já ajudaram a polícia a chegar-se perto o suficiente da família dele e da pior maneira possível. Não se pode verdadeiramente dizer que é no atraso da abordagem da Polícia à família que reside o problema, não vos parece? Não será antes o facto de ele não ter disparado sobre os polícias que o assassinaram?
Por último, estamos em desacordo quanto à ideia de que “aquilo a que assistimos não tem absolutamente nada a ver” com esse homicídio a tiro. E aqui reside a diferença essencial, a pequena brecha entre nós. Uma brecha que se abre num vasto fosso, uma divisão que não pode ser colmatada. Porque nós queremos entender o mundo na sua particularidade histórica, como e porque é que ele veio a ser aquilo que é, e as razões pelas quais isso é insuportável. Vocês, contudo, querem simplesmente assegurar que ele perdura por tanto tempo quanto possível. Independentemente da sua qualidade, independentemente das consequências, independentemente de tudo à excepção da vossa capacidade colectiva de declarar que o mundo é um sítio horrendo, sim senhor, mas ao menos mantemos a nossa decência. Ao menos estamos instalados suficientemente alto para podermos contemplar os campos de extermínio. Ao menos chegámos cá por meios legais. E como é que eles se atrevem? Como é que eles se atrevem? 
Mas apesar disto, muito do que vocês disseram está inteiramente certo. Comecemos então por aquilo em que concordamos.

WILLIAMS, Evan Calder, Carta Aberta Aos Que Condenam As Pilhagens, trad. Miguel Cardoso, Edições Antipáticas, Lisboa, 2011, pp.9-14

É também verdade, então, que esta pilhagem é uma forma de trabalho, ao mesmo tempo que arruína a própria categoria do trabalho. É, tal como o crédito, uma inflexão da crise do pleno emprego.

Carta Aberta A Todos Os Que Condenam As Pilhagens

Evan Calder Williams

3. ELES ESTÃO SIMPLESMENTE A SER “MATERIALISTAS,” A ROUBAR COISAS QUE NÃO CONSEGUEM COMPRAR.

Não me digam que estavam à espera que as pessoas se revoltassem imaterialmente? Estavam à espera que apenas pilhassem coisas que conseguem comprar?

[...] 

Sejamos pois completamente sinceros. Vocês que trabalham, que têm a oportunidade de o fazer, tanto aqueles a quem essa oportunidade foi dada de mão beijada como os que tiveram de lutar com unhas e dentes para a terem, vocês que têm o vosso “ganha-pão honesto”: será que trabalham mesmo para cobrir as necessidades básicas e nada mais? Trabalham apenas o suficiente para sacar a dosagem mínima recomendada de calorias, um cilício, um quartozinho vazio, uma merecida imperial quando chega o fim-de-semana, o passe para se deslocarem até ao trabalho? Será que desdenham verdadeiramente o desejo para lá disso? 

Não. Não desdenham. Nós também não. Mesmo que estejam entre aqueles que raramente se podem dar a esses luxos, querem, esganam-se e esfalfam-se e enganam e pedem emprestado para terem uns ténis caros, uma televisão grande, um jipe, um carrinho de bebé que parece um jipe, vodca do caro, calças com o nome de uma certa marca no rabo e que vos faz o rabo jeitoso, brincos, água-de-colónia, cigarros que não sabem a cartão, jogos de computador, diamantes, bife da vazia (Ou, pior ainda, fazem de conta que estão acima dessas coisas. E portanto querem antes um novo carro híbrido, sabão feito de cânhamo, uns produtos de agricultores das redondezas, um apartamento com chão de bambu, as obras completas de Matthew Arnold ).

E portanto, mesmo antes de emergir a questão da criminalidade (a forma como esses bens foram obtidos), vocês condenam os saqueadores por outra coisa: por quererem os objectos que vocês querem. Estão a condená-los por partilharem o vosso desejo. 

Estão a classificar o vosso desejo como algo de abjecto e inaceitável, assim que é desligado da legitimação do trabalho. A vossa ideia, portanto, é que eles devem desejar mas, ao mesmo tempo, verem-se privados da recompensa. Que essa é a condição fundamental do pobre: querer e continuar a querer. Que o querer deve equivaler apenas àquilo a que se pode aceder.

De tal modo que quando dobram o pau na direcção do contra-factual (como muitas das condenações vindas da esquerda encostada ao centro) e dizem, bem, a coisa seria diferente se eles estivessem a tirar comida, fraldas, remédio, estás a ver, as coisas de que precisamos para sobreviver, o que está a ser dito é que eles deviam roubar apenas bens de uma qualidade equivalente ao seu estatuto social. Os pobres, cujo nível de vida não é muito alto, deveriam ter bens de um nível não muito alto. Não deviam tirar cigarros pré-enrolados. Não deviam tirar champanhe, ou pelo menos não daquele bom que se guarda para ocasiões especiais. Não deviam estar a tirar televisões com uma data de polegadas. Porque eles não merecem estas coisas. Deviam olhar-se ao espelho e ter mais juizinho.

[...]

A vossa ansiedade e nervoso miudinho face a isto é inteiramente compreensível, dado que tem pouco a ver com “eles”. Regista antes a forma como entendem a vossa própria propriedade, a vossa lascívia, os vossos gostos. Mais especificamente, o facto de vocês não terem especial interesse por aquele belo par de ténis por ser confortável/bonito/vos ajudar a correr depressa. Esta parte é acessória. A especificidade do vosso desejo é negativa. Reside no facto de não quererem que outras pessoas os tenham. 

[...]

4. ELES NÃO TRABALHAM, SÃO CRIMINOSOS 

Sim. Não trabalhar sob o capital é criminoso. É-o estruturalmente: uma falha, uma transgressão, aquilo que pede castigo – fome, prisão, coerção. Agora que deixámos para trás a era das guerras generalizadas, da habitação própria e da produção interclassista de crianças, o emprego a tempo inteiro é a garantia do estatuto de adulto, da cidadania, de se ser um sujeito de pleno direito. A ausência de trabalho – ou melhor, de trabalho reconhecido enquanto tal – equivale a uma criminalização generalizada das populações, mesmo antes de qualquer transgressão legal ocorrer de facto.

É-o também localmente, isto porque, na medida em que o trabalho significa trabalho sancionado, não trabalhar implica que uma pessoa trabalhe em moldes que são tecnicamente criminosos: roubar, vender bens roubados, vender drogas, vender o corpo, burlar, pedir, ocupar, pilhar.

E num tempo como o nosso, em que não há empregos suficientes à disposição, ou, cruzes credo, em que as pessoas não querem trabalhar, não querem mergulhar as suas vidas em horas de suor e tédio das quais tanto elas como as suas famílias ou a sua vizinhança apenas colherão uma ínfima porção da recompensa, num tempo como este, continuar a dizer às pessoas que esta não é a maneira certa de fazer as coisas é, literalmente e sem tirar nem pôr, dizer-lhes: vocês não poderão trabalhar e vocês não poderão não trabalhar. Têm que se desenrascar e devem fazê-lo sem grande escarcéu.  

Contudo, conviria que vocês, bem como nós, tirássemos a limpo o que significa, ao certo, o termo trabalho.

Sucintamente, é a troca do nosso tempo e esforço – uma porção de uma vida – por uma certa quantidade de bens, sendo o dinheiro o mais comum e o mais infame de todos. A especificidade de tal trabalho sob o capital é a de que o valor dos bens que o trabalhador recebe não é equivalente ao valor gerado pelo seu trabalho: isso é o que os Marxistas denominam de mais-valia. Isso é aquilo a que os capitalistas chamam fisgar a presa.

Para o trabalhador, a taxa de retorno do trabalho não é constante. Os salários não são idênticos, e um retrato adequado da economia mundial torna evidente que, à excepção de algumas correlações genéricas para trabalho muito especializado (cirurgiões, assassinos, pianistas de jazz), e pondo de parte a nossa fantasia de que os salários e a valia são comensuráveis, a quantidade auferida tem pouca relação com a qualidade ou quantidade de trabalho realizado. Algum trabalho é pouco qualificado e paga muito mal. Algum trabalho é altamente qualificado e paga muito bem. Algum trabalho é altamente qualificado e paga muito mal.

Estou certo que estaremos todos de acordo neste ponto, mesmo que esse facto não nos agrade muito. É, afinal de contas, verdade.

É também verdade, então, que esta pilhagem é uma forma de trabalho, ao mesmo tempo que arruína a própria categoria do trabalho.
É, tal como o crédito, uma inflexão da crise do pleno emprego. É uma actividade de elevado risco, precária, informal e com dividendos potencialmente muito elevados. Aqueles que pilham estão a trocar uma porção do seu tempo – uns quantos minutos ou horas, embora potencialmente se possam traduzir em anos de prisão ou na sua morte, pelo que a remuneração horária é de cálculo muito incerto – as suas capacidades intelectuais e físicas e a sua energia, pelo acesso a um conjunto de bens que eles, como tantos outros, desejam.

Estão a trabalhar, e isto num tempo em que o trabalho é um bem escasso. Estão a trabalhar em conjunto, o que, como todos bem sabemos, é aquilo que verdadeiramente vos assusta. É verdade que nós lhe dissemos para se juntarem e trabalharem em comunidade de modo a melhorar as suas vidas, mas não era bem isto que nós queríamos dizer...

[...]

Isto significa ainda que o vosso argumento de que é de alguma forma moralmente repreensível, ou pelo menos tacticamente equivocado, as pessoas levarem estes produtos em vez das “necessidades básicas” é, em boa verdade, uma idiotice. Querem-nos convencer, portanto, que é suposto os pobres não só restringirem o âmbito dos seus desejos, mas igualmente não serem capazes de entender os fundamentos do valor de troca? Que eles deviam ter enchido carrinhos de compras com farinha e feijões, em vez de computadores que poderiam, em teoria, ser vendidos de modo a obter uma maior quantidade de farinha e feijões? Ou ainda ficar com eles e dar-lhe uso, uma vez que o acesso à internet, a capacidade de escrever a amigos ou contar histórias, ouvir música, olhar para fotografias daqueles que amam ou com quem fantasiam amores: ao que nos é dado saber, a pobreza não abole o desejo de tentar gozar a existência que se tem e de partilhá-la com outros, por mais desesperados que estejam os tempos.

WILLIAMS, Evan Calder, Open Letter to Those Who Condemn Looting, pub. in two parts in the blog Socialism and/or Barbarism, August 2011

EN

An open letter to those who condemn looting

Evan Calder Williams

Dear you all,

I fear we have nothing to say to each other.
What follows may therefore represent one half of a dialogue in the way that yelling at a iceberg does.  Perhaps the sheer exertion of speaking - a certain quantity of hot air - will soften the surface a bit, but it's a pretty one-sided discussion. 
After all, we've heard what you have to say.  We too know the words by heart.  We find it, at best, deeply unconvincing, and, at worst, bilious, evasive, racist, average, murderous pap not fit for mouths or ears.  And there is very little that is best these days.
I expect you would say the same about our position, albeit with a different set of adjectives. Juvenile, destructive, unreasonable, and naive come to mind, if your previous history of accusations gives any indication.  Unfortunately, given the structure of the media and the flow of information, we cannot but hear what you say while you can very easily continue to ignore what we do.  Until lots of angry people are burning your city, at which point you might, in a fit of weakness, concede to listen to those who have some opinions on the matter.  Unlikely, though.  We live in noisy times.
It is too bad, though, because we actually agree on a few things.  For you say of these riots, and this looting, that they are opportunistic.  That they are unreasonable and stupid.  That "this isn't a protest, this is a riot."  That they are "not political."  That "this is about individuals using the excuse of what happened the first two nights to make sure what happens the third night is worse".  That this is "havoc."  That this is "criminality pure and simple."  That they do not "have the right" to do this.  That "no benefit will come in the long term," from "looting a local shop," "setting a bus on fire," or "nicking a mobile phone."  Above all, as you, Home Secretary put it, "There is no excuse for violence.  There is no excuse for looting."  (For a further litany and bestiary of speech, see here.)

And we agree.

There are some points of difference, it's true.  We don't think "these people" are "apes," rats," "dogs".  But we believe that you truly see them that way, and that what happens now is not the reason for your belief: it is merely a confirmation of how you've always thought of those who are definitely more poor and often more brown than you.  As for the claim that your error lay in that "we should have helped the IPCC come closer to the Mark Duggan's family more quickly," it seems that you have already helped the police come plenty close to his family, in the worst way possible.  One can't really say that it was the delay of the IPCC's approach to the family that is the problem here, can we?  Doesn't it have more  to do with the fact that he did not shoot at the police who murdered him?
Lastly, we disagree that  "what we're witnessing now has absolutely nothing to do with" that shooting.  And that is the real difference, the tiny crack between us that widens into a yawning gulf, a division that  cannot be squared.
For we want to understand the world in its historical particularity, how and why it has gotten to be the way that it is, and why that is insupportable.  You, however, simply want to make sure that it goes on as long as possible.  Regardless of the quality, regardless of the consequences, regardless of anything other than your collected capacity to declare that it's a nasty world out there, but at least we have our decency.  At least we sit high enough to look out over the killing fields.  At least we got here by legal measures.  And how dare they.  How dare they.
But despite this, you've said much that is entirely correct.  Let us, then, begin with where we agree.

WILLIAMS, Evan Calder, Open Letter to Those Who Condemn Looting, pub. in two parts in the blog Socialism and/or Barbarism, August 2011

EN

An open letter to those who condemn looting

Evan Calder Williams

3. THEY ARE JUST BEING "MATERIALISTIC," STEALING THINGS THEY CAN'T AFFORD

Do you really expect people to riot immaterially? You expect them to loot only what they could afford?

[...]

Because let us be very honest. You who work, who have the opportunity to do so, who perhaps had it handed to you or who fought tooth and nail to get that opportunity, you who "earn an honest living": do you truly work only to cover the bare necessities? Do you work just enough to pull off a base level of caloric intake, a hair shirt, an empty room, an indulgent pint at the end of the week, and bus fare to get you to your job? Do you disdain desire beyond that?

No. You don't. We don't. Even if you are among those who can rarely afford them, you want, and you work and scrape and cheat and borrow to get, expensive trainers, big screen TVs, sport utility vehicles, prams that resemble sport utility vehicles, expensive vodka, pants with the name of a certain brand on the ass and that make your ass look good, earrings, cologne, cigarettes that don't taste like cardboard, video games, diamonds, good quality beef.

(Or worse, you play at being above that. And so you want a brand new hybrid, soap made from hemp, something locally farmed, a flat with bamboo floors, the complete works of Matthew Arnold.)

And so, even before the question of criminality emerges (how those goods get gotten), you are condemning the looters for something else: for wanting the very objects you want.

You are condemning them for your desire.

You are declaring that desire to be abject and unacceptable, as soon as it is untethered from the legitimation of labor. You think, then, that they are supposed to desire and be refused its payoff. That such is the fundamental condition of the poor: to want and to go wanting. That want is supposed to be identical to access.

Such that when you bend the stick toward counterfactuals (as many of the condemners slightly left of center do) and say, well, it would be different if they were just taking food, nappies, medicine, you know, the things you need to get by, what is being said is that they should steal only goods of a quality equivalent to their social standing. The poor, whose standard of life is not very high, should have goods whose standard is not very high. They should not be taking pre-rolled cigarettes. They should not be taking champagne, or at least not the good stuff and only for special occasions. They should not be taking large televisions. For they do not deserve these things. And they should know better.

[...]

Your nervous, pacing anxiety at this is entirely understandable, given that it has very little to do with "them." Rather, it points up the way you understand your own property, your own lusts, your own taste. Namely, that you have no particular interest in a nice pair of trainers because they are comfortable/look good/help you run fast. That is incidental. The specificity of your desire is negative. It is that you don't want other people to have them. 

[...]

4. THEY DON'T WORK, THEY ARE CRIMINALS 

Yes. To not work under capital is criminal. It is structurally so: a fault, an offense, that which calls out for punishment — hunger, jail, coercion. Now that we have left behind the era of general wars, home ownership, and the cross-class production of children, full-time work is the guarantor of adult status, of citizenship, of being a proper subject. The absence of work — that is, labor recognized as such — is a general criminalization of populations, before any legal transgression technically occurs.

It is locally so, because insofar as work means sanctioned labor, then to not work means that one must labor in modes that are technically criminal: steal, sell stolen goods, sell drugs, sell your body, con, beg, squat, loot.

And in a time when there aren't enough jobs to be had, or, God forbid, when people don't want to labor, don't want to throw their lives into hours of toil and boredom from which they, their families, their friends, their parts of town will only reap only the smallest portion of reward, in such a time, to keep telling people that this isn't the right way to go about things is literally, and precisely, to say to them: you will not be able to work, and you will not be able to not work. You should scrape by, and you should be quiet about it

However, it would behoove you, and us all, to clarify just what is meant by work.

In brief, it is the exchange of one's time and exertion — a portion of a life — for a certain quantity of commodities, money being the most common and infamous one. The specificity of such labor under capital is that the value of commodities returned to the worker is not equivalent to the value generated by her labor: that's what Marxists mean by surplus-value. That's what capitalists mean by making a killing.

Work does not have a constant rate of return for the worker. Wages are not identical, and an adequate portrait of the world economy makes it clear that barring certain overall correlations for highly trained work (surgeons, assassins, jazz pianists) and excluding our fantasy that it must be the case that wages and worth are commensurate, the amount earned bears very little relation to the quality or quantity of labor performed. Some work is unskilled and paid very little. Some work is unskilled and paid a lot. Some work is highly skilled and paid a lot. Some work is highly skilled and paid very little.

I'm sure we can all agree on this, even if you don't particularly enjoy doing so. After all, it is true.

It is also true, then, that this looting is a form of labor, even as it ruins the category of labor. It is, like credit, an inflection of the crisis of full employment. It is high-risk, precarious, informal potentially high-yield activity. Those who loot are trading a portion of their time — a few brief minutes or hours, but with the potential for years in jail or with death, such that the hourly wage is highly uncertain — and intellectual and physical skill and energy in exchange for access to a set of goods which they are not alone in wanting.

They are working, in a time in which work is hard to come by. They are working together, which, we all know, is really what scares you all. We know we told them to band together and work as a community to improve their lives, but we didn't mean it like this...

[...]

It means also that your claim that it is somehow morally reprehensible, or tactically misguided, for people to take these items instead of the "bare necessities" is, strictly speaking, an idiotic one. Are we to insist that along with restricting the scope of their desires, the poor are not supposed to understand the fundamentals of exchange-value? That they should have been loading shopping carts with flour and beans, rather than with computers which could, in theory, be sold for a larger quantity of flour and beans? Or kept and used, because access to the internet, the ability to write friends or stories, to listen to music, to look at photos of those you love or might like to: last time we checked, poverty doesn't abolish the desire to try and enjoy the existence one has and to share that with others, however blighted this era may be.

WOODCOCK, George. The tirany of the clock in War Commentary - For Anarchism, 1944

lives in a world which runs according to the mechanical and mathematical symbols of clock time.

The tirany of the clock

George Woodcock

Modern, Western man, however lives in a world which runs according to the mechanical and mathematical symbols of clock time. The clock dictates his movements and inhibits his actions. The clock turns time from a process of nature into a commodity that can be measured and bought and sold like soap or sultanas. And because, without some means of exact time keeping, industrial capitalism could never have developed and could not continue to exploit the workers, the clock represents an element of mechanical tyranny in the lives of modern men more potent than any individual exploiter or any other machine. It is valuable to trace the historical process by which the clock influenced the social development of modern European civilisation.
It is a frequent circumstance of history that a culture or civilisation develops the device which will later be used for its destruction. The ancient Chinese, for example, invented gunpowder, which was developed by the military experts of the West and eventually led to the Chinese civilisation itself being destroyed by the high explosives of modern warfare. Similarly, the supreme achievement of the ingenuity of the craftsmen in the medieval cities of Europe was the invention of the mechanical clock, which, with its revolutionary alteration of the concept of time, materially assisted the growth of exploiting capitalism and the destruction of medieval culture.
There is a tradition that the clock appeared in the eleventh century, as a device for ringing bells at regular intervals in the monasteries which, with the regimented life they imposed on their inmates, were the closest social approximation in the middle ages to the factory of today. The first authenticated clock, however, appeared in the thirteenth century, and it was not until the fourteenth century that clocks became common ornaments of the public buildings in the German cities.
These early clocks, operated by weights, were not particularly accurate, and it was not until the sixteenth century that any great reliability was obtained. In England, for instance the clock at Hampton Court, made in 1540, is said to have been the first accurate clock in the country. And even the accuracy of the sixteenth century clocks are relative, for they were only equipped with hour hands. The idea of measuring time in minutes and seconds had been thought out by the early mathematicians as far back as the fourteenth century, but it was not until the invention of the pendulum in 1657 that sufficient accuracy was attained to permit the addition of a minute hand, and the second hand did not appear until the eighteenth century. These two centuries, it should be observed, were those in which capitalism grew to such an extent that it was able to take advantage of the industrial revolution in technique in order to establish its domination over society.
The clock, as Lewis Mumford has pointed out, represents the key machine of the machine age, both for its influence on technology and its influence on the habits of men. Technically, the clock was the first really automatic machine that attained any importance in the life of men. Previous to its invention, the common machines were of such a nature that their operation depended on some external and unreliable force, such as human or animal muscles, water or wind. It is true that the Greeks had invented a number of primitive automatic machines, but these where used, like Hero's steam engine, for obtaining 'supernatural' effects in the temples or for amusing the tyrants of Levantine cities. But the clock was the first automatic machine that attained a public importance and a social function. Clock-making became the industry from which men learnt the elements of machine making and gained the technical skill that was to produce the complicated machinery of the industrial revolution.
Socially the clock had a more radical influence than any other machine, in that it was the means by which the regularisation and regimentation of life necessary for an exploiting system of industry could best be attained. The clock provided the means by which time - a category so elusive that no philosophy has yet determined its nature - could be measured concretely in more tangible forms of space provided by the circumference of a clock dial. Time as duration became disregarded, and men began to talk and think always of 'lengths' of time, just as if they were talking of lengths of calico. And time, being now measurable in mathematical symbols, became regarded as a commodity that could be bought and sold in the same way as any other commodity.
The new capitalists, in particular, became rabidly time-conscious. Time, here symbolising the labour of workers, was regarded by them almost as if it were the chief raw material of industry. 'Time is money' became on of the key slogans of capitalist ideology, and the timekeeper was the most significant of the new types of official introduced by the capitalist dispensation.
In the early factories the employers went so far as to manipulate their clocks or sound their factory whistles at the wrong times in order to defraud their workers a little of this valuable new commodity. Later such practices became less frequent, but the influence of the clock imposed a regularity on the lives of the majority of men which had previously been known only in the monastery. Men actually became like clocks, acting with a repetitive regularity which had no resemblance to the rhythmic life of a natural being. They became, as the Victorian phrase put it, 'as regular as clockwork'. Only in the country districts where the natural lives of animals and plants and the elements still dominated life, did any large proportion of the population fail to succumb to the deadly tick of monotony.
At first this new attitude to time, this new regularity of life, was imposed by the clock-owning masters on the unwilling poor. The factory slave reacted in his spare time by living with a chaotic irregularity which characterised the gin-sodden slums of early nineteenth century industrialism. Men fled to the timeless world of drink or Methodist inspiration. But gradually the idea of regularity spread downwards among the workers. Nineteenth century religion and morality played their part by proclaiming the sin of 'wasting time'. The introduction of mass-produced watches and clocks in the 1850's spread time-consciousness among those who had previously merely reacted to the stimulus of the knocker-up or the factory whistle. In the church and in the school, in the office and the workshop, punctuality was held up as the greatest of the virtues.
Out of this slavish dependence on mechanical time which spread insidiously into every class in the nineteenth century there grew up the demoralising regimentation of life which characterises factory work today. The man who fails to conform faces social disapproval and economic ruin. If he is late at the factory the worker will lose his job or even, at the present day [1944 - while wartime regulations were in force], find himself in prison. Hurried meals, the regular morning and evening scramble for trains or buses, the strain of having to work to time schedules, all contribute to digestive and nervous disorders, to ruin health and shorten life.
Nor does the financial imposition of regularity tend, in the long run, to greater efficiency. Indeed, the quality of the product is usually much poorer, because the employer, regarding time as a commodity which he has to pay for, forces the operative to maintain such a speed that his work must necessarily be skimped. Quantity rather than quality becomes the criterion, the enjoyment is taken out of work itself, and the worker in his turn becomes a 'clock-watcher', concerned only when he will be able to escape to the scanty and monotonous leisure of industrial society, in which he 'kills time' by cramming in as much time-scheduled and mechanised enjoyment of cinema, radio and newspapers as his wage packet and his tiredness allow. Only if he is willing to accept of the hazards of living by his faith or his wits can the man without money avoid living as a slave to the clock.
The problem of the clock is, in general, similar to that of the machine. Mechanical time is valuable as a means of co-ordination of activities in a highly developed society, just as the machine is valuable as a means of reducing unnecessary labour to the minimum. Both are valuable for the contribution they make to the smooth running of society, and should be used insofar as they assist men to co-operate efficiently and to eliminate monotonous toil and social confusion. But neither should be allowed to dominate men’s lives as they do today.
Now the movement of the clock sets the tempo men's lives - they become the servant of the concept of time which they themselves have made, and are held in fear, like Frankenstein by his own monster. In a sane and free society such an arbitrary domination of man's functions by either clock or machine would obviously be out of the question. The domination of man by the creation of man is even more ridiculous than the domination of man by man. Mechanical time would be relegated to its true function of a means of reference and co-ordination, and men would return again to a balance view of life no longer dominated by the worship of the clock. Complete liberty implies freedom from the tyranny of abstractions as well as from the rule of men.

WOOD, Robert. Plate I. A View of the Ruined City of Palmyra Taken From the North East in The ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart, 1753
WOOD, Robert. Plate I. A View of the Ruined City of Palmyra Taken From the North East in The ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart, 1753
WOOD, Robert. Plate I. A View of the Ruined City of Palmyra Taken From the North East in The ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart, 1753
WOOD, Robert. Plate I. A View of the Ruined City of Palmyra Taken From the North East in The ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the desart, 1753
YAMAHATA, Yosuke. [1945] Nagasaki Journey, The Photographs of Yosuke Yamahata, August 10, 1945, transl. Miryam Sas, Pomegranate Press, 1995

I remember vividly the cold night air and the beautiful starry sky. Descending a sloping path that ran along the mountainside, and crossing over the ridge of the mountains, we reached the front gate of the Mitsubishi arsenal.

Photographing the Bomb, A Memo

Yōsuke Yamahata

If the trains had been running normally, we would have arrived in about six hours. But as it was, the trip took us twelve hours and we arrived at Michino Station, just before Nagasaki, at around three in the morning.

I remember vividly the cold night air and the beautiful starry sky. Descending a sloping path that ran along the mountainside, and crossing over the ridge of the mountains, we reached the front gate of the Mitsubishi arsenal. A single sentry holding a fixed bayonet stood guard before the closed stone gate, and when we inquired about the situation within he told us that everything was in ruins, and that the city of Nagasaki was even worse off.

A warm wind began to blow. Here and there in the distance, I saw small fires, like elf-fires, smoldering: Nagasaki had already been completely destroyed. Higashi, Yamada, and I progressed quickly along the prefectural road that ran down the middle of the plain.