[-empyre-] the city as performative?

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Mar 14 21:03:30 EST 2012

dear all

such energies in this discussion, and widely ranging it has become, and historically now hard to track, we seem to move all over the place(s)..
and yet it is fascinating to hear these references to imaginary (literary) city constructs  and metaphors - this is how I understood Ethel  (and Ana's reference to Ursula Le Guin) and especially Alicia's post -  
and to architectures and their tropes, and now also to urban performance cultures or cities  (as well as their writers/graffiti artists and the later or belated dwellers or urban visitors-as-literary-readers-in-the-wake-of-Italo-Calvino's-"Invisible -Cities"....) at particular past, but also present political and economic moments, 

even as i am trying to stretch my imagination to make appropriate (and most likely, possible) links between female erotic cabaret performances in Weimar Berlin, the maverick Russian Futurists' "Victory over the Sun" (St Petersburg, 1913) and the so-called "Twitter Revolution" in Iran (2009?)  that, as Eduardo suggests, predates the actual uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 and as new social network media tools enabled a combustive Tahrir Square.

I also found Davin's post very thoughtful and provoking...

David schreibt:

 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.

Davin of course also departed from his reading of Orwell, and then asked: "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." 

In regard to social movements (resistance and resilience), and their political and media tools, i wondered whether the notions of loneliness or anonymity, as Alicia suggests, were helpful or perhaps beside the place? But how besides?
I was so struck in the way Montevideo was described here, so differently, by some of you. But you didn't mean Montevideo, you were talking about yourselves?

or about what Walter Benjamin refered to as phantasmagoria?  what haunts you about the cities you mentioned?

Sabela -- thank you also for your beautiful posting on "la piel de las ciudades" and "piel social"  --  can we talk more about your concept of the piel/skin?

>>.los conceptos “piel de las ciudades” y “piel social” e intentando aplicarlos a la apariencia urbana,  -muros y grafías, estado de las fachadas, áreas de reciclaje en convivencia con edificios en los que se han hecho grandes inversiones y con zonas abandonadas y construcciones ocupadas–, los someteré a un “estiramiento” hacia la forma en que se manifiesta en los individuos la necesidad de expresar pertenencia, de ser idetificables, mirados o invisibilizados en el trasiego de una actualidad que atraviesa y uniformiza, y me centraré en la experiencia del tatuaje como práctica extendida que excede lo previsible y atraviesa los estratos sociales, desafía las franjas etarias y se constituye en “marca” de este tiempo.>>

I think Sabela addresses social transformations intrinsic to changing cities and barrios within cities, and I'd like to hear more about that please.

I owe you Zizek's "Sparta", and will deliver soon today, I hope, now having forgotten what Zizek meant and thus having to do my own Marco Polo bit of constructivism.

Johannes Birringer

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