[-empyre-] Monika Weiss Post

Monika Weiss gniewna at monika-weiss.com
Tue Nov 18 08:22:33 EST 2014

Following the October 2012 debate on Pain, Suffering, and Death in the Virtual I am now re-joining the debate on ISIS, Absolute Terror, Performance. Thanks to Alan and Renate and everyone for having me back as a quest.

Alan writes in his introductory text that an ‘absolute terror, the performative of beheadings, genocides, and crucifixions, signs the performative of the end-time itself. It is not a question of the inerrancy of the text leading the torturers on; it's the errancy of any text in the face of decapitation; every world is ultimately unutterable.’

I have been working with collapsing systems of language and meaning through lament. Lament is the moment when we face history. History, the way I learned it as a child, was always a stream of masses of killed and tortured bodies disguised as battlegrounds, when at their best, or morphed into camps, when at their worst. Facing ‘history” language disintegrates into non-meaning. This is the moment of lament and the moment of music—but if music is the ultimate lament, it also becomes non-music, non-sound. There is a void, a silence, a giant absence that the horror creates out of the masses of killed and tortured bodies.

When I think of ISIS, I think of Agamben’s notion of the camp. The state of the camp is when law decides about itself as law. If we think after Aristotle that language is a form of law, there is a kind of iteration that cannot be denied: I kill therefore I am, what I say (who I kill) is what I am. Enonces, statements, in form of words, images, torturing and killings, cannot be denied. We are facing them now, facing history as it happens now. It feels to me like the world has finally speeded up so much so that we are looking at our own postmemory.  We  re gazing back at our death, we are speechless like Eurydice. No more gaps or voids of time, no generational differences or delays. We are looking at our own past and our future as they are collapsing and colliding, the true end of times as Alan writes.

One of the projects I am working towards right now --and yes, I am also under the avalanche of “production” deadlines but at least I am not physically in Dresden this week- is a public project in Delhi next year. The project is, in brief, proposing pollution of the public sphere through Lament. Silent gestures of lamentation on the Victory Square. Inhabiting the area around India Gate and the nearby empty canopy with the monument of the body of the king George removed and no other monument or body replacing it until now. Project Two Laments (title in progress) will be a film and a sound composition, it proposes to collide two kinds of trauma and two kind of body: first is the lingering aftermath of war and second will evoke the current and often-repressed and newly urgent subject of sexual violence against women on the Indian subcontinent and around the world, [including especially ISIS]. Lament functions here as the voice polluting public sphere (both ponos and ponoi). 

But what one does, how one responds, to echo Alan’s question? I only know one must ‘go on’. I recall looking down from my Warsaw window when I was a girl, only to see tanks on the streets, in 1980, the year of Marshall law in Poland. The size of the tanks seemed so much bigger then I imagined based in history books. The absurdity of the possibility that if I went outside, they would destroy my body, if only because of the “law”. The absurdity of violence.

To be continued as I am still reading, only now, through the earlier posts. The pairings of violence versus stillness, pain/torture and ego, war and representation, re-enactment with empathy, and expression as violence, and violence as expression—among others, are those that caught my attention and that I intend to address as much as I hope to gradually move this week into a new chapter of our discussion .

Monika Weiss

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