(Kamaitachi 08, Eikoh Hosoe, 1965.)
. . .
“Le monde crie, ce monde-ci, le monde maintenant, au-delà des murs des chambres chaudes, au-delà de nous liés. A travers les voix revient le grondement plus fort, plus puissant pour nous envahir. Appeler ta force pour supporter, te sortir de la douceur, t’apporter la dureté cruelle latente autour de nous. Qui se suicide. Qui se sépare. Toi et moi arrachés. Capitule, vivante encore. Je suis entre le tremblement désespéré et l’apaisement qui plane, éloigné, silencieux. Entraîné de l’un à l’autre par la peur.”
Danielle Collobert, Dire, 1972.
The world cries, this world, the world as it is now, from outside the walls of our scorching rooms, outside the walls by which we know each other. Its voice roars back stronger, more powerful, to overcome us. Call forth your strength for support, to pull you out of your tenderness, to give you that cruel endurance that surrounds us. That pushes to suicide. That separates. You and I, divided. Give in, to live. I am between the tremors of desperation and a paralysis that is flat, distant, silent. Wrested between one and the other by fear.
. . .
Responding to a question regarding the ‘illusion of participation’ that social media allows, Iskandar spoke about how one of the greatest regrets of Egyptian activists was that they were not in the streets long enough. “When they went home, that was it.”
How do we relate to conflicts that are geographically distant, when responsive tactics appear limited to the theatrical adaptation of these conflicts into our own identities? A regionalized perspective that limits tactics to performed solidarity ultimately permits a lack of responsibility for the invisible networks that permeate our communities, and further limits tactics as responsive rather than creative, precognitive, and prophetic. To anticipate and intuit, and invoke a manipulation of circumstance before enabling the conditions for resistance. To believe that one is not involved in a conflict because one is not situated within an area being directly bombed, for instance, is to simplify warfare to the act of killing, when it is complex and entangled with systems that may appear to be tangentially, or almost entirely unrelated to military industry. Because we are not holding the gun, we are not implicated in murder. Because we have not sent bombs with our own hands to raze cities, our projects are in no way connected to the institutions that give those commands. Because we stand to profit monetarily for a few years, it is admissible to ‘rebrand’ submission to a broken economic system as ‘development’, ‘integration’, ‘reconciliation’.
The strategy begins with the non-distinction between voyeur and participant — an acceptance of the contradictions inherent in the consumption of images and their appropriation into identities of resistance, a critique of the sensationalism that determines the aesthetics of communicating the realities of war, and the inherent theatricality that perpetuates a psychological distance from the banal realities that enable institutional and commodified violence. As the internal systems of the carnival fold inward, there is a certain manipulation of time that is required: an imagination that pushes the horizon, and the possibility of the “apolitical” is revealed as illusion.
“From the moment that one believes neither in God nor in immortal life, they become responsible for everything alive, for everything that is born of suffering, condemned to suffer from life.”
Albert Camus, The Rebel, 1951.
Iskandar ends by asking, to what extent are our digital expressions affecting our material experience? We might ask further, to what extent are our modes of social connectivity incapacitating us as volatile bodies, capable of occupying space, and our flesh as capable of resisting and overcoming violence? More broadly, “what is our responsibility to the grotesque when we see it”? For it is not the seduction of our desires that derives the grotesque of violence and welcomes it into our everyday necessities, but the very substance that our bodies need — the hungers and thirsts, the insatiable body that is not only the battleground, but the very weapon against ourselves.
The quiet terrorism that permeates the existence as subject to a militant/ state implies that to resist is to inflict upon one’s self a ‘precarity’ that goes against all instinct — to love, irrationally. In 1944, on the coast of the Gaspésie, André Breton wrote Arcanum 17 — a manifest in defiance of despair that had entangled even the staunchest of pacifists into slaughter, where the only possibility of stopping the horror would have been to reflect it. Breton wrote of the morning star, of love that does not require an ‘end’, a resolution, but exists without expectation, without the indication of return, and beyond hope. The morning star — a rebellion that is born not out of an intellectualization, that is fallen into because there is no other possibility, entranced, indeed enchanted. It is through enchantment that pure potentiality is made real.
. . .
Bukowski said, “Some people never go crazy. How horrible their lives must be.”
To be paralyzed with freedom.
That we are afraid to desire.
That what we desire is desire itself.
That birth has spilled its innocence onto the dead
who are given rest from a world that kills before the womb has been stripped.
So that peace has become the unimaginable,
that the greatest act of surrealism has become to disarm.
. . .
“There is only one answer: end War.
There is only one way to end War: that is by bringing Capitalism to an end.”
Kenneth Patchen, The Journal of Albion Moonlight, 1941.
“But the blazing will to live: to live anew.
And the struggle of these people to realize themselves in the world of modern times, whose sin is to have been made without them. “
Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless, 1988.
. . .
This is part of a series of reflections on the first lecture given at the VISR free lecture series, “On Civil War and Resistance“. They are open to everyone, Monday nights at 7 pm, at Or Gallery, 555 Hamilton Street, Vancouver.
& thank you N.