[-empyre-] creative powerlessness/ creative power

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Nov 26 04:29:48 EST 2014

thank you Aristita for your beautiful and actually very encouraging post, detailing what you experienced growing up under "slow terror" and a regime  (and after it,  "the maze developed by the post-communist political system," as you say) that stifled mind and soul silencing the populace. Your description of the silencing – and forcing the people in Romania during Ceausescu’s dictatorship. to develop survival mechanisms under precariousness –  is harrowing, but you also you address the reaction to slow terror (and later mention the 'theatre of the oppressed'  rehearsal principles)

<<I learned as a child and a teenager much too well that there is such a thing as negative imagination, that violence can come in many varied forms, all aiming to annihilate. That there is no dialogue possible with violence and terror. That confrontation, even if peaceful, is impossible. 

Yet, through isolated dissident examples that all of us knew well of through the grapevine, I learned that asserting one’s beliefs and feelings, in spite of being apparently “suicidal,” putting the body in danger and leading to social exclusion, was the only solution to keep the mind and the soul alive. And that such acts of dissidence and assertiveness had positive ripple effects for the rest of the silenced crowd. Other modes of asserting, used by more people, were indirect and based on humour>>

Perhaps we can also look at the larger communal/societal process (e.g. during an election, versus during an uprising or a riot), and draw encouragement from modes of organization and collective action, rehearsals of communal will?  As not all of us here may know the occurrences during your recent voting in your mother country, could you kindly tell a little about the elections and what you refer to as a "reset" -

>>the first president not connected to former structures of power, to hit the “reset” button and thus stand a chance to break with its traumatic past. Even now the country is divided between those (usually older and from social strata with less access to information) who are still completely subdued to the effects of post-communist propaganda and terrorised by the thought of change and those who are strongly motivated to embrace and determine change.>>

I suggest we can then, following Christina's admonishment, change again or modify the conversation on terror and trauma (even as events may be unfolding in Ferguson, but also in many other places that are not "hot" for the press and not "recruited", as J. Butler writes in "Frames of War"):   "How is the public sphere constituted by the visual technologies of war? and what counter-public emerges over and against that ideal postulate? we think of persons as reacting to war n various ways, but communicable reactions to war also variably constitute and de-constitute personhood within the field of war. is there some way to register war in a way that transforms the senses?"  And then she asks: " And what role do transformed senses have in the demand for the cessation of war?"  "Under what conditions can we refuse the recruitment effort" - namely to be embedded into publicly approved media reports?

 (thinking of Monika's work here, and of what Ana mentioned earlier in her references to the protesting Women in Black, or the Mothers & Grandmothers at Plaza de Mayo )

Johannes Birringer

[Aristita I Albacan schreiibt]
Sent:Tuesday, November 25, 2014 12:55 PM
To:  empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

Many thanks for the opportunity to assist to such an inquisitive and stimulating debate about performance in relation to notions of terror and violence. Many threads to follow, I choose to start with the one closest to my heart, and pick up again the creative powerlessness, but from a slightly different angle.... 

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