[-empyre-] The city as a skin -- Sparta and the helots / molecular revolution in process ?

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Mar 28 01:35:29 EST 2012

dear Ana

i can assure you I know nothing about exhumations
and would not want to be an expert or lover in forensics.


Ana schreibt
Dear Johannes, I am so thrilled by your brilliant exposition and synthesis of the whole month's conversation!
But I react a bit about your comment "I know nothing about exhumation". I read your book some years ago (Performance on the Edge: Transformations of Culture) and I found very interesting your dialogue with Marina Grzinik about how the people from Sarajevo challenged the snipers and the war to attend performances and to continue feeling themselves "cultural beings".
I heard the same story from some friends who performed in Sarajevo, as Bibbi Andersson did and other friends setting up theater plays.
I was in Tuzla last year and marched together with 300 women who lost their male relatives in Sebrenica. They were opening massgrave after massgreave, searching for their killed relatives.
I met Rigoberta Menchu in Guatemala some time ago and she told us the same story, how she and her relatives were called every time a new massgrave was opened and a new body was exhumated.
And you are German, a people who has been stigmatized and almost banned, made responsable for killings and massgraves. In the Baltic countries, in Sovjet, they are still opening graves from the Second World War and exhumating bodies.
I should say every one of us is an expert in exhumations today.

And exhumation is the big star of all our popular television culture, CSI, Bones, Silent Witness, the forensic physicians are as popular as latino lovers :)

On Tue, Mar 27, 2012 at 1:42 AM, Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk<mailto:Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>> wrote:

dear soft-skinned city  or country dwellers,

and – following Diego Hernandez's archaeo-logical position on cities as evolutionary
"sedentary resilient organisms" (!) –  one might add: dear farmers and villagers ("Los aldeanos") in Nueva York, Montevideo ("a clear example of non-sustainable-beautiful-architecture, as Leandro
suggested), Jerusalem, Johannesburg, the Rio de la Plata regions,  elsewhere....
the problems are even larger than we thought.

One could assume that the economic crises, and the increasing social divisions and global divisions and regional economic divisions and discrepancies
will not benefit the "city".

Re-reading the earlier literary references to the invisible cities, Diego's "city" introduces another construct (but one based on Darwinist security/survival it seems), or proposition, even if grown and sedimented through long and changing histories of concentration.  The crises will not much longer benefit the cities, nor the human rights, community functions and "post-network civilities,"  nor architects and philosophers, nor occupiers and exhumers and forensic experts, nor indeed our bones (or those of our ancestors in graves)  and our "archives" and performance "repertoires" , to use a title of a book from the founder of the Instituto Hemisférico de Performance y Política (Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas, 2003).

I was tempted to write on exhumation, after reading Ana's comment on folks in Uruguay waiting to hear who might yet be identified (having been 'disappeared" under military dictatorial regime).

But I know nothing about exhumation.

When I went t look for a description (Uruguayan Peace Commission / http://www.trial-ch.org/index.php?id=974&L=5), I found the historical archive, e.g. >In 1985, a “Commission of Inquiry into the situation of disappeared persons and the events leading up to their disappearances” was created, but it did not come to any convincing conclusion>> reporting political failure of the Uruguayan "truth and reconciliation commission," ( as it was called euphemistically in South Africa),

and then also clinical descriptors of a Dr  Horacio E. Solla on  >>the utilization of two techniques used for the identification of human skeletal remains: the traditional technique of facial reproduction employed by forensic anthropologists, and the more recent technique of DNA pattern analysis, which is usually utilized by biochemists. Both techniques were applied to a unique case to analyze and identify the skeletal remains of a child who disappeared in the Uruguayan city of Salinas in February 1991.>>

After reading the clinical descriptor system, I felt encouraged to go back to the issue of phanstasmagoria (Benjamin), trying to understand our attraction to the banality of ruins and ruination of whatever social utopias
there have been; and perhaps "resilient organism"  (in light of Fukushima) is another allegory doomed to fail. And yet,  above all, I was trying to follow some of the inspiring and positive claims made here, and wishing to thank
Simon and Aristide for their insistence.  Simon's insistence the Physiognomie - or "anatomy" -- of an affective network inside/without the "occupation machine"  is very thought-provoking, and I was trying to read Simon and Aristide together,
now in the light and reflection of the writings of Alejandro, Diego (the crisis exploding inside the city walls, as a Trojan horse), Sabela and Alicia

>>Diego schreibt:
Sin embargo, la crisis explota adentro de las murallas de las ciudades, como un caballo de Troya construido por los propios ingenieros japoneses, en medio de sus apacibles ciudades

How can we re-turn this image to the strong propositions made by Simon (about the "molecular revolution in progress") and Aristide?

Simon schreibt:
This is why I asked about the city as the anatomy of the network. And far from wanting to defend OCCUPY or perplex I wanted to include affect - and indeed sentiment - in the genetic conditions of the Simulacrum, which, with the contribution of networking in its broadest sense as communication, facilitates the habitation of the city as a sensate spatium - as it is lived feelingly and concretised in the Sensorium.

Can you speak more about how this sensorium is politically effective to counterbalance the very symptoms of simulacrum hype (affective intensities of the commodity fetishisms and market imperatives to sell ourselves out)?

Antonas schreibt:

..<< Protocols are meant to be functional small scale legislations that rule a space through new norms. The problem will be who will have the right to act with such an even limited civil power in order to make urban protocols valid on a specific urban background.

New community functions will be necessary in order to prescribe a protocol or to install it temporarily. The Internet can provide the grouping system in order that concrete communities of inhabitants decide to introduce and test a protocol. The municipalities may act as the legalizing power that could accept or refuse such protocols to run in the city. Protocols can be proposed through the net and be accepted from different interested communities; urban protocols organize independent autonomous communal structures; they can also regulate the relationship between the private sector and specific communities.

In this case, the protocol formations will describe a similar task to the one we have in the net when we try to elaborate interesting communication platforms in order to represent or organize wiki functions. We run analogous risks that the whole setting of rules can be absorbed by the market. But if there is no other alternative for communities to act in the city, then it will be only the market to operate, to calculate and to take advantage of every communal function if we do not invent a systematic reply to this inoperative function.

The communities themselves could make profit out of their own creativity through the net. Systems of alternative economies could be tested and implemented. A post-network civility could be under preparation if we could better describe and propose new legislative tools in order that our projects for a different society may function. We need the operational formats to undertake this work and this is what the urban protocols propose foremost.

What if the very notion of community, however, is still an incomplete social utopia that needs to be sculpted,  as there undoubtedly are interested if fractured shareholder communities, and other groups and other disaffected bodies, and what Eric Kluitenberg calls "insular electronic circulations" ("Legacies of Tactical Media") that may not flow well together ?  You surprised me when you displayed so much belief in protocol formation by "citizens"/civilians and at the same time evoke a "post-network civility"   - what kind of different society are you imagining, after the network, where you and her and me are making our own protocols? for what? what do "independent autonomous communal structures" do to survive?


Johannes Birringer

Kluitenberg's publication "Legacies of Tactical Media"  is available online (download):  http://networkcultures.org/wpmu/portal/publications/network-notebooks/no-5-legacies-of-tactical-media/
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