[-empyre-] poems, spatial justice, live exchange

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Wed Nov 12 06:01:17 EST 2014

> Jon's indictment is very acute and devastating, and he provokes us to think
> how to be under this condition, one where we are forced to "grapple with the
> emergence and dissolution of individuals and lifeworlds near and far, and to
> struggle with one’s own performances as victim, perp, and witness."
> Please can we discuss?

Pesonally I believe that being a technologically mediated observer is enough to 
indict myself of violence as much as any perpetrator.

This in light of the fact that observing (consuming) remote events alters who I 
am in ways that are certainly damaging at the least, but also—as I give my 
attention to those participating in whatever heinous acts being committed—I have 
added to their power in the techno-social system (a couple blog/thesis excerpts 
below, ex post facto):

"while I have great respect for people who choose resistance as a model for 
political expression, I believe that more often than not, resistance simply acts 
as a counter-balancing prop that holds up that-which-is-being-resisted. as a 
simple anecdote from the distant Reagan era: it appeared that Reagan would take 
some action — declare a covert war, make an attack on alternative culture, or 
simply say something stupid — and there would be a flood of artists who would 
‘make art’ about that action. this is the definition of (a) reactionary. it 
seemed, with the original “Teflon” president, that critical actions and 
expressions, no matter how intelligent or caustic simply built up Reagan’s 
power. that the repetition of his name in song, discussion, and print only 
served as a constructive support not for the resistance, but for sustaining the 
regime. reactionary art. easy to find inspiration (in the embodiment of 
that-which-is-to-be-resisted), no need to hunt. somehow comforting to have a 
daily dose of Reagan (or Bush) to get the fires stoked."

"In the time of another gritty Haitian conflict: Iceland has only one broadcast 
television channel. The evening news comes on. In a country with only 250,000 
people, the evening news is a point where most other activities cease and folks 
sit around the television to watch local and international events play out as 
seen from the Icelandic editorial perspective. This particular evening was 
during another burst of civil disorder in Haiti. A jittery scene plays out on 
the screen. There is a hand and arm, the camera is shooting over the shoulder 
connected to this hand and arm. The side of a head comes into the frame, the 
camera frame (of reference) is jostling around. There is a ring of people in 
front of the camera and perspective says that it is a true ring, that the camera 
person is standing immediately outside the human ring. At the center of the ring 
there is a single human, kneeling on the ground. There are noises. It becomes 
clear that the waving hand is holding a weapon. More jostling, more shouting, 
noise. The hand with the gun is waving around, more shouting, then the weapon 
fires. The human at the center of the circle collapses. The clip ends abruptly."

"I knew at the precise moment that the execution on the screen occurred that the 
energy, the electromagnetic radiation coming from the television, the reflected 
Light from the body of that Other, stored on a magnetic tape for some hours, 
that amplified far-vision of slaughter gathered by that camera and transmitted 
8000 km away via several forms of electro-magnetic radiation, would change the 
substance of what "I" was: that the Light energy would enter my eyes, enter into 
my energized body-electric and alter it. Forever. It did. I'm lying. I can't say 
forever because forever has not yet come, but at least until now. This social 
mediation of reality changed me. I am else, I am Other."

Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
grounded on a granite batholith
twitter: @neoscenes

More information about the empyre mailing list