[-empyre-] language, reporting the virtually true

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Nov 5 09:28:23 EST 2014

dear all

conversation has begun, some are still to join the table, and perhaps (as I was waiting for Olga and Pia to appear) other writings captivates me now, stops me, James Barrett's questions regarding the States of terror,
and how one can possibly fight an immense, vast image (or proliferating images) of terror,  Alan's responses and emphasis on anguish and what cannot be dealt with, and his thoughts on the past or the erasure
of it (can it be lost, or can it not, can something or someone/many disappear and not be found, as Ana Valdés reminds us?)....

>[Erik schreibt]
Fascism (and other totalitarian ways of winning) are sentimental returns to a lost past, a past we’ve somehow been cheated of, or a past that was stolen‚ this, despite the fact that the past can’t be “lost‚”   something isn’t the past until it passes out of our hands. This isn’t cheating, it’s just how time does business; the past is where it is; it isn’t ours. All we can sustain are our framings of it, and the frames are always about our present state of mind‚ efforts to tilt or twist us into positions suitable to receive an anticipated future (a best-guess).

Now Erik's writings here have created a certain tone (which I find awesome), and tonality of strikingly poetic darkness that makes we wonder whether we need time, actually, to let these thought images sink in. No need to hurry.  

There is something here, in Erik's response and dialectical provocations - between darkness, contemplation, and the advertising pursued, by societies and their/our technocratic fear definers – which grips me when continuing my own questions about the narratives that undoubtedly exist; the archaeologists and anthropologists will surely confirm that the past cannot be lost, the "devil contracts" continue, and not only in peasant folk culture as Michael Taussig recounts in "The Sun Gives without Receiving" (in the book 'Walter Benjamin's Grave', 2006). Taussig, incidentally, also reminds us that, in cartoons, we laugh at the distortions and deformations of the body, the strange mutilations.  

But when I evoke that ethnographer of violence, I also remember opening those pages of writings on violence and shamanism, noting how the researcher speaks of defective storytelling as a form of analysis (not truth, but perhaps transgression).  Rustom Bharucha, who recently published "Terror and Performance" (Routledge 2014), is a theatre worker, like Erik, and opens with a language richly informed by mythology (Mahabharata), epics of war, narratives of predicament, yet he says he is no warrior, but a performance scholar wanting to question the discourse on terror (and the surfeit) which he encountered in many places (we hope that Rustom joins us later this month). 

A surfeit of discourse, image. 

What then is controlled, and how ascetic is our writing? Erik, I had to search for Saint Hesychios, "an ascetic author of the Byzantine period in literature. Nothing definite is known concerning his career or the exact time at which he lived."

You invented this saint contract?

Johannes Birringer

PS  a friend just wrote to me about the disappeared 'normalistas', 43 of them (Ayotzinapa, Mexico). 
James, when you spoke of the "possibility of us in the Western World" -  what location were you observing from?  


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