[-empyre-] The city as a skin -- Sparta and the helots

Ana Valdés agora158 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 15 18:51:20 EST 2012

Dear all, I am so impressed and happy for the great input and the quality
of the discussion we carry on here! As someone coming back to my homecity
after 34 years of abscense living abroad (Stockholm) it's vital to me
understand the codes and the networks working here in Montevideo, a city
still haunted by the dictatorship. The military detented power here between
1973 to 1985. I was myself four years in prison and was later deported to
Sweden where I spent 34 years.
During the 11 years of dictatorship the population here in Uruguay resisted
in all possible ways. They resisted through popular music, through strikes,
clandestine meetings, social unrest and at the end they voted no to the
continuation of the military ruling.
They did'nt have any electronic technology, they gathered in quick
manifestations, they smuggled out films to tell the world what happened in
our jails and they passed information about our missing comrades, killed
and their bodies hidden away in anonymous massgraves or buried in the Rio
de la Plata's deep waters.
I mean the occupy movements are interesting but they must find their way to
next level of conscience and acting, from merely resistance to changing.
But how?

On Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 7:50 AM, Antonas Office <antonasoffice at gmail.com>wrote:

> Thank you Johannes for this Zizek's reference and your ideas.
> I also think that there is a lot of noise about the occupy movement and
> not a lot of interesting things were born from it till now. I also find
> ineffective
> many "occupations" and urban resiliences. I do not believe in utopian
> romanticism. In the same time there is a need to think in two different
> scales. The big image will be formed by a description of this last phase of
> capitalism; its characteristics and some possibilities of exit from it. The
> small scale of remarks concerns some observations that may be related to
> the practices we discuss. The twitter mobilizations or the occupy rationale
> are part of this small scale observations. The small scale is not isolated
> from the big one and vice versa. Both the network phenomena and the occupy
> movement are more interesting then mere technical details of the situations
> we observe.
> Concerning the network communities there are two distinct strategies that
> include them in the political sphere. The first one is the strategy that
> allows quick gatherings and "real" movements through the use of smart
> phones or without it. The point is here that the network is used in order
> to control a relation to the "real world". Even if this aspect of the
> network phenomenon seems more related  to the "reality" of the society, it
> is also sometimes operated in a frame similar to game practices. Japanese
> games with controlled actors in the city seem technically similar to the
> movements of some protesters that use twitter or other applications in
> order to move with coordination in the city. The second aspect of the
> network political actions is grounded into the network itself. It uses its
> own structures in order to think or sabotage part of its system.
> The occupy movement even is till now acting in the periphery of the
> political sphere, it sometimes only intends to create isolated platforms
> that operate as islands "out of capitalism"; this gives to capitalism an
> even more liberal view. In the same time however we observe in the post
> network cities a different relation to the public space. The public space
> is unimportant or "occupy-able". It is important from a point of view of
> architecture to make an account of this aspect of the communities that act
> in the cities. They can exist if they occupy a space. A different relation
> to what was meant as public space is recorded here. An occupied zone is
> hospitable if we accept it's rules. But it installs again a different
> attitude than the civic: a civilian is not the performing subject of the
> occupation. New rules apply to the occupied territories in a way that we
> cannot say if we are or not in the realm of a typical western society.
> Furthermore from this occupation practices we may learn how a separative
> concept will perform new divisions of the old society. Protesting
> occupations are less important than the structure of isolated functioning
> urban systems; they may be platforms of discussion protest or different
> commerce and the can also be malls or typical capitalist islands; this is
> not important to me. The user replaces the civilian. The most powerful
> element of this change is a deep tendency of the society to be formed as an
> archipelago of distinct platforms. Beyond the occupy movement and the vague
> Leit Motiv "occupy everything" we encounter a different concept for the
> future city.
> Divide or unify, resistance or resilience, republic or democracy: those
> old questions take in this particular moment different meaning.
> Aristide Antonas
> Sent from antonas iPhone
> On Mar 14, 2012, at 22:05, Johannes Birringer <
> Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:
> > dear all:
> >
> > from Sabela's Montevideo- city of skin,   back to Sparta-
> military-oligarchical system of Antiquity.  Thinking of "displacements"
> [desplazamientos], as Ana might add, through social
> > and political class structure, one can study an ancient city-state,
> Sparta, of enormous military strength and organization, probably dating
> back to the 7th century BCE, but the
> > conflict with Athens, the early democratic city-state,  of course took
> place during the time of the Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BCE, and
> although I did not read Thucydides,
> > I remember learning about Sparta and Athens in school, and admiring (I
> can't remember exactly now)  the Spartan constitution and political system
> that made everyone (the male
> > Spartiates) serve in the military more or less their entire life....
> >
> > thank you Aristide for your reply, and I do not doubt that you argue
> well when you state:
> >>>
> > it is wrong strategically to underestimate a change. I propose a reading
> of an urban field; I think that there is a significant transformation
> recorded in the city of Athens and that we have to study it not as an
> isolated phenomenon but as a part of a changing equilibrium. Of course: no
> homogeneity is absolute, no change erases a past conditions but some
> observations are needed in order to orient our future works.
> >>>
> >
> > I cannot remember exactly when "Sparta" –  the "invisible city" –
>  [today I believe a small town of 9 000 inhabitants?] came up in Slavoj
> Zizek's lecture on "The Deadlock - Revolutionary Thought Today,"  but I
> believe in the first half of his political reflections Zizek looked at the
> Arab uprisings and the OCCUPY movement in the larger context of the
> economic/financial crises and social instabilities under the totality of
> late global capitalism and its various ideological superstructures, and how
> ineffective some "occupations" and urban resiliences/resistances might have
> been or turn out to have been against the backlash or the recuperations of
> hegemonic power; and in this first half his introductory metaphor was drawn
> from an Iranian proverb (about how to grow flowers over a buried corpse).
> >
> > He mainly seemed to want to ask how global capitalism and its symptoms
> can be grasped and contested, and how we can, in political analysis, and a
> cold look rather than emotional indignation at banks or speculators or
> other provocateurs (left or right), make sense of the symptoms of our
> predicaments (our new tatoos on our skins).  Sabela, what are these tatoos
> saying about us?
> >
> >
> > He then, i think, recommended not to believe in magical realism or
> utopian romanticism (Ana, he does love sci-fi novels and movies, though, as
> you can imagine) but look at how hegemonic response organizes itself (in
> Brussels, Washington, or Beijing), and he had some less hopeful comments on
> the Indignados in Spain, and the people protesting in Athens or "occupying"
> "wall street"  (of course here we are now in literary and metaphorical
> lands, and also perhaps tactical strata of discourse, of images on screens
> and skins of cities, psychogeographical maneuvers, and "digital media"
> tools as well, if we remember CAE and their activism with tactical media  -
> I suppose we have moved from "nosotros somos Marcos"  to the  Facebook
> group “We Are All Khalid Said,”  as Eduardo points out? and what does that
> mean, in terms of slogans or "messages".......?).  Zizek even made a remark
> that it is bizarre to imagine our Greek neighbors now potentially being
> considered humanitarian victims, suffering from food shortage (images in
> feel good advertising consequently moving from Africa to Greece), but then
> he urged us to do an ideological systems analysis of the totality today (in
> world politics). And here he came up with the suggestion not to look at
> Athens but at Sparta, at the current neo-Spartan oligarchy.
> >
> > Neo-Sparta is an oligarchical pyramid, says Zizek, with the bloated
> bankrupt USA at the top playing the role of military-ideological hegemonic
> power constantly in a state of war (by necessity since bankrupt and in
> debt), having successfully enacted that role also with its "war against
> terror" and the production of ideological obfuscations. (History did not
> end,  Francis Fukuyama).  In the middle of the pyramid, the tax paying
> citizens, are EU-Zone/Europe and Asian manufacturing industrial states, and
> the large bottom (the helots made up 90 per cent, i believe, of the Spartan
> city state) is constituted by the poorer regions and countries that have no
> rights.
> >
> > The US of course needs the world to feed it, and the phantasmagoria is
> very Benjaminian -- we do not live in ruins or in ruined end times:  the
> shameful spectacle is in perfect working order,. and for the ones without
> rights, with no freedom (outside of freedom, as the Turkish philosophical
> policeman told Zizek), the fantasy that comes closest to mind, we were told
> by the philosophical Lacania professor Zizek,
> > is the one by Tom Sawyer or anyone else who has ever imagined being
> witness to their own funeral.
> >
> > Is this what you had in mind Aristide, that we are becoming attuned to
> an emerging set of fantasies where, in the global capitalist neo Sparta, we
> can begin to see ourselves without citizen rights, food, healthcare,
> education, work, and therapy, or access to generosity and solidarity --
> urban-rural communal (religious / ritual / ethical?)  values?
> >
> >
> > respectfully, and with apologies if i misrepresented Zizek's political
> thinking.
> >
> > Johannes Birringer
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


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
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/attachments/20120315/618f1f49/attachment.htm>

More information about the empyre mailing list