[-empyre-] re/claiming and unsettling / continuing artistic practices

davin heckman davinheckman at gmail.com
Fri Mar 9 20:08:13 EST 2012

Ana, I wonder if the reason for this lack of sustained critical mass
has to do with some of our deeper structures of belief and motivation.

I think the 20th century is committed to technique, and insofar as we
have been committed to technique, we have been excellent at sustaining
the centrality of our belief in technique and our committment to its

I was just re-reading Animal Farm and sobbing, along with my children,
over its failure.  We were wondering why such a sound idea was
incapable of producing lasting results.  And, the issue is not the
problem with "animalism" in Animal Farm....  the problem is the belief
that animalism in itself, as a formal system, would be enough to
sustain its permanent state.  But again and again in the story, the
problem is not animalism, it is a problem with a belief in animalism
as an external technique, rather than an intimately understood,
subjectively integral, culturally networked way of being.

We wonder why social movements often flounder, it has to do with a
lack of belief in anything BUT the technical fix.  Find the error,
adopt the formula, implement the system....  and then we can live in
utopia without having to constantly concern ourselves with creating
it.  If we can just get rid of the humans, the animals believe, then
the future of animalism is secure.  But, really, maybe to sustain a
movement, you have to worry yourself constantly with its perpetual
renewal.  Unfortunately, we are conditioned to believe that the
problems of life are solved through discrete purchases....  even
though we have overwhelming evidence that this is not so....  many
behave as though the lack of love in their life can be solved by
properly groomed nostrils or scientifically scented skin or the right
watch.  They might not believe the specific propaganda claims, but at
a very deep level, we are always looking for "fixes," but we doubt our
own capacity to become the fix.  I mean, global hunger....  Monsanto
says its about their seeds....  but really, the world has food, give
hungry people food.  We don't need a scientist or a machine to do
that.  Depression....  Pfizer pushes pills...  but really, work less,
give your time and effort to people for nothing.

The Church was good at building its network because the network wasn't
an end in itself.  Sure, for some people it is, and these poor people
graft themselves to power and try to take something from it without
giving themselves to the spirit of the collective project.  But the
network itself grew and sustained itself because people believe in
something else, of which the network is supposed, only, to be a trace,
shadow, artifact.  Or, to use a more contemporary example--the city--a
city does not exist because it is a city, it exists because it offers
a means for people to pursue individual existence collectively.  The
streets, sewers, buildings, law, etc. exist to support that function,
and increase the likelihood that people will join the city to pursue
life.  And, a really good city, eventually becomes a metaphor for the
life of its people, and then for people more generally.  But this is
only a power trick of signification, a way of talking about life
through material metaphors.  That Chan reference on this thread,
really illustrates this idea quite nicely.



On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 4:03 PM, Ana Valdés <agora158 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Thanks Johannes for a very inclusive post where you pinpointed some of the
> most relevant things we posted these days.
> I am as you concerned with the concept of "networking". I think for the big
> capital has never haft problems with networking issues. Rome had soldiers
> and administrators taking to Rome wheat from Egypt, parrots from Africa,
> grain from everywhere, wine from Spain, etc, etc. The Catholic Church based
> it's power on networking. Yes, they were vertical and high centralized
> networkings but their goal was to keep the empire or their organization
> floating.
> Why should be so difficult for "us", grassroots movements, students,
> peasants, social leaders, artists, intellectuals, commited people, to act
> the same way?
> Ana
> On Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 3:34 PM, Johannes Birringer
> <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
>> dear all
>> thanks for all the postings herel
>> I was intrigued to read the conceptual (theoretical) notions offered,
>> perhaps as a form of political thought or analysis, alongside the reports
>> from the activist fronts and resiliences, and here
>> i especially found it helpful to hear of movements allowing us to imagine
>> the urban contexts to be also, possibly, in strategic dependence politically
>> on the non urban (the regions and hinterlands).
>> So, thinking less of 'swarm' logics and emergences, and more of
>> grown/rooted resiliences and how they are/were "tactics of the past."
>> kamen argues:
>> >This notion - of retreat, of losing the centre - is something I'm
>> > researching right now in terms of art practice>
>> could you elaborate on that, and your proposition that citizens "produce
>> public space",  perhaps also in response to Alan Sondheim;s justified
>> skepticism, and his mentioning of the "resilient governing forces"?
>> I was also trying to think of Aristide Antonas speaking about the
>> situation in Greece ("Athens," he suggests, is "emblematic for the future" -
>> why?) , and wanting to hear more from Leandro about how he
>> values the rural based Sin Tierra movement in Brazil  (i remember them
>> occupying a huge strip of space going down the hill towards the government
>> sector in Brasilia, i remember the red earth or sand where they had camped).
>> So many different locations were mentioned, in these past days, the
>> struggles seem always local, and how to you compare Fukushima and, say, the
>> Organizing for Occupation (O4O) movement to protest foreclosures of houses
>> auctioned off in Queen, New York?  [cf. Gary Younge, "The Itinerant Left has
>> found its home in Occupy, 27 Feb 2012, Guardian,
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/26/us-left-home-occupy-middle-america].
>> Does it however require, as Zizek maintains, to think in totalities? (and to
>> assume neoliberal global capitalism to be one such totality unavoidably
>> present and powerful?)
>> I am going to try tomorrow to report on a discussion we had in London last
>> week when Slavoj Zizek came for a talk on "The Deadlock –   Crisis,
>> Transition, Transformation: Revolutionary Thought Today", and his analysis
>> of
>> the OCCUPY movements was not encouraging (suggesting that 2011 was the
>> year of the revival of "radical" politics, in its emancipatory form [OWS,
>> Arab Spring, mass protests in Europe] as well as in its reactionary form
>> [Hungary, Scandinavian countries, etc.]., Zizek hinted that, however, the
>> very massive visibility of these protests does bear witness to a frustrating
>> deadlock -- what do the protesters effectively want? Do they contain a
>> vision which reaches beyond moralistic rage?).
>> I am unable to say anything yet, have conflicted feelings and am trying to
>> understand what "networking" means now; I was in Yamaguchi, Japan, last week
>> for a workshop; and my friends in Tokyo, who had been much worried about the
>> fall out from Fukushima, tell me that "the status of Japanese society has
>> been changing completely. It is said that Mt. Fuji will be active; and very
>> interestingly, after the disaster last year, the leading companies move
>> their head office to Osaka.  For example, Panasonic has moved their head
>> office to Osaka and their procurement department has moved into Singapore !
>>  Thus, even in performing arts, we hope to construct huge networks all over
>> the world (not limited in internal Japan)."  I participated in such a
>> networked project last week, but it was not activist or politicized, and
>> thus unrelated to resilience, resistance,  recalcitrance. It had an artistic
>> side and an educational outreach side (to communities & children), but there
>> was not a single reference to politics in four days.
>> regards
>> Johannes Birringer
>> dap lab
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> --
> http://www.twitter.com/caravia15859
> http://www.scoop.it/t/art-and-activism/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/food-history-and-trivia
> http://www.scoop.it/t/gender-issues/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/literary-exiles/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/museums-and-ethics/
> http://www.scoop.it/t/urbanism-3-0
> http://www.scoop.it/t/postcolonial-mind/
> mobil/cell +4670-3213370
> "When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your
> eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long
> to return.
> — Leonardo da Vinci
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

More information about the empyre mailing list