[-empyre-] Temporary, Autonomous, Zoned

Michael Angelo Tata, PhD mtata at ipublishingllc.com
Thu Apr 23 08:59:38 EST 2009

Dav (Nax?)—an oscillation?  Multiples?  
How wonderful: did I really get you to smile on a grey/gray bus heading toward the land of Candyman and Jenny Jones?  This thought warms me: how thoughtful of you to share this emotional detail via vowel-phone.  That lovely letter “i,” counterpart and compliment to “e”—what these little prefixes can’t accomplish in today’s world.
De Certeau is always timely, and I am happy he has a fan in you, too.  I am drawn to him because of his particular attention to the “everyday”—a concept we’ve visited before, via the construction of a “global everyday” you so cleverly and dexterously introduced into our discussion.  That de C takes the time—gives the time?  I think of how, etymologically, both “give” and “take” trace back to the same linguistic root in Indo-European languages, at least according to anthropology-via-poststrux—to investigate the ordinary, the proletarian, the banal, the minor, that which is familiar enough to be forgettable, makes him an icon to me, someone I cannot forget.  For, like it or not, history, however large we capitalize the “H,” begins with the diurnal: given that we measure time in solar units, it is every day—literally, every rotation, every revolution, each spin—that counts, giving rise to the epiphenomena we come to treasure and thesaurize.  Furthermore, it is not the everyday, but the practice—would spelling it “praxis” be inappropriate?—through which we discover mystic speech, la perruque, the itinerary, and tacticality proper.  Not so much strategies, as these require the bird’s eye view of a meta-narrative, but tactics: guerrilla games, polite infractions in an infrastructure, passive-aggressive appropriations, the interruption of exchangism with disseminated prodigalities that make a rupture of generosity.
True that: the dematerialization of money corresponds with the erection of the Dow Jones—not so much the S&P (wonder why)—as a fetish and symbolic confluence of health, optimism, and the measurement of mass emotion, even fanaticism in the sense of Wilhelm Reich (who I am shocked to discover is also a top-notch theorist of the orgasm—Discovery of the Orgone—who knew?).  How did the DJ as fetish function for your Dad in his everyday life as investor?  In your everyday life as his son?  Your stories—fables, as de C might call them—are little islands I am happy to visit, places my heart loiters.  
I am definitely in accord with your love of the detour, and of its importance for the artist, whose distractions take us on journeys we are unprepared for (off to Cythera we go).  Of course being the perennial Francophile, I would slip in the accent aigu, therein betraying my alliance with JIT scholarship and the scholarly plasticities of the 90s.  Within popular media, personalities do construct demon creatures, like the Welfare Queen, who distract us in a different way from the detours of the artist, fracturing our gaze through the stereotype, which reassures us in our fear and trembling by giving the monster a recognizable contour, envelope, shell, something we can readily identify and respond to en masse, en bloc, a thing to despise, burn and dispose of through the communal act of purgation (public execution, guillotine games).  Octo is the mouth of the abyss, the maw of chaos, come to devour our crumbs, the phantom emerging from the shadows to rob us blind for no reason other than to perpetuate her own commitment to sloth and over-consumption.  For me, the Welfare Queen is a true friend, as are any of the lumpen, especially the “counterfeit woman” (Grand Horizontal), whom I adore in every way.  To be unproductive or counter-productive (like the CSO of D&G) in a time of production is a masterstroke—although, if we follow Bell, and Habermas, then we must throw in the towel and concur that “production” and its paradigms are ovah, recasting the lumpen as the consumer of society’s surplus and excess in a time of decreased fabrication, a wide-eyed creature from a Baudelaire prose poem who siphons off social guilt through the absorption of loose piece of change that are the bourgeois remainders of luxury purchases burning up without trace, like cigarettes.         

How brilliant of you to involve the pyramid scheme, which we must lay by the side of the Ponzi Scheme, in light of our preceding Madoff discussion—see, in particular, my conversational thread with Cinzia, as she very cleverly connects up Bernie with the politics of friendship, with investment buoyed up by seduction and alliance as nimbus surrounding a core of betrayal ready to detonate at a moment’s notice.  Come to think of it, you do lose friends and alienate people by hawking inferior protein bars and kelp soap, or whatever it is that Amway gets you to inflict upon your neighbors and family so shamelessly.  Shell games and stacks of workers on whose delts I am able to construct a new identity as boss-man (although I am really a Welfare Queen): capital as mystical, magical, thaumaturgical, even liturgical.  The Price continues to be Right.  Creamettes and Cockettes inspire bidding wars.
Art as rupture, and as the marking of rupture, even the rupturing of rupture (Warholian counter-revolution): this idea is spot-on, especially since it reserves a revolutionary content for art, leaving it the opportunity to actually “do” something à la pragmatism (for example, John Dewey’s sense of the aesthetic and its connection to the somatic).  Meaning abounds, even in the midst of tragedy: the gift of death is many times the work of mourning, to merge competing theories of object relations and social contracts (sorry—I have Eve Sedgwick’s recent death on my brain—the sudden arrival of human emotions makes me question my existence as cyborg).  Even Viktor Frankl found meaning in the concentration camp, meaning revealed as search-for-meaning, reminding me that on the worst bad hair day or bluest blue Monday, there is the bounty of sensation whose given-ness betrays a generosity I can never reciprocate: rays of sunlight, grey raindrops pelting the impersonal sides of an autobus, the taste of cloves, the recherches of a temps perdu.  Even when it is ugly (or “sublime,” or “picturesque”), life is beautiful, pure and simple, since in so many ways, it ought not to be (What moves the Unmoved Mover?  What makes the Big Bang big, and banging?  Infinite regress of the ontological to the ontic to the pre-reflective consciousness to the…?).  
As a poet and thinker, I take it as my task to mark these sensations, to place the phenomenon on the page-page or e-page so it can resonate for me, and hopefully for some faction of posterity which might find my musings a source of interest, if for no other reason than they fulfill the role of studium (I am of course hoping for punctum).  Fortunately, I do not find capitalism a prison, as I take much joy in the diffuseness of its spectacles, “audicles,” and general Gesamtkunstwerk, which are there to warm me, so many neutrinos streaming through my skin each millisecond of each day of each Sun King’s calendar urging me to scrap these lumps and leave my time undivided in a dual display of lumpenproletariat joy and dandyistic diffidence: the work of consumption knows no end, even here, amongst the ruins of AIG, WAMU, and other acronyms for a waste at which I can only marvel, an expenditure far beyond my capacity to compute: Kant’s mathematical sublime recast as streetwalker?
À bientot!  Many thanks for getting me to effuse.  You are a true catalyst.      

Michael Angelo Tata, PhD  347.776.1931-USA


> From: naxsmash at mac.com
> To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> Date: Tue, 21 Apr 2009 14:47:24 -0500
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] TAZ-mania
> A good thought about how art practice matters, gives me a moment to 
> smile while on a very grey bus lumbering into Chicago.
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Apr 21, 2009, at 10:15 AM, davin heckman <davinheckman at gmail.com> 
> wrote:
> > Thanks for spending a little time on deCerteau...
> >
> >>
> >> And as for your call to revolution, to “arms,” as Nick might 
> >> call it, given
> >> his initial interest in creativity and armature, I think of de 
> >> Certeau’s
> >> notion of La Perruque in The Practice of Everyday Life: all those 
> >> tiny,
> >> little breaks in the system we effect each day, everything from 
> >> oppositional
> >> shopping (label-switching, kleptomania) to the simple act of 
> >> writing a love
> >> letter “on the boss’ time.” No giant Arendtian break, but 
> >> sweet and
> >> individual tears in the social tapestry that give meaning to the 
> >> banal, the
> >> programmatic, the codified, the staid, the static.
> >>
> >
> > I think this might be wear the artist's work is important. Brian
> > mentioned previously the idea that a crisis of confidence is precisely
> > what is needed to turn people away from this idea that financial
> > markets are the measure of a society's health and that Wall Street is
> > somehow "sexy." For years, the evening news would should the Dow
> > Jones Industrial Average as a shorthand for the "health" of the
> > economy. But as my father got older and had difficulties finding
> > employment and finding stable housing, I always saw the Dow Jones as a
> > fetish that was increasingly divorced from any stable referent... it
> > would climb and people would cheer.... but for a growing segment of
> > the population, things got harder and harder.
> >
> > I don't think that artists should have to worry too terribly much
> > about fixing everything. But what artists can do is illustrate the
> > many small moments and mark them so that others can see them. Rather
> > than exposing the insufficient nature of the financial system at
> > delivering social goods.... art can illustrate the many other sites
> > where social goods are delivered. The artist does not have a special
> > corner on the market of these small detours, they just have a great
> > excuse for talking about detours--they're artists!
> >
> > We all make detours throughout our days. In fact, we live for the
> > detours. Art can provide the occasion, the pretext, and the excuse
> > for making a detour. (If you have a friend shoot you in the arm...
> > normally this is frowned upon. But when Chris Burden decides to do
> > it... people think about it differently.)
> >
> > But even within finance itself, we live for detours. If you listen to
> > talk radio, they love to go on and on about this idea of the "welfare
> > queen"--who has children so she doesn't have to work (The Octo-mom is
> > just an hyper-example of this). Talk radio personalities love to rant
> > and rave about how lazy welfare recipients are... about how unjust it
> > is for them to be unproductive, but still draw an income, by working
> > the system.
> >
> > BUT.... if you listen to these very same talk radio personalities,
> > they gush with praise for elite investors. The paradigmatic hero for
> > our age is the man who gets rich on the stock market. Why? Because
> > the investor figured out a way to make money without breaking his back
> > all day. Warren Buffet or Donald Trump or whoever has figured out a
> > way to make money without actually doing anything, by working the
> > system. This is the kind of a god that we can believe in.... the
> > kind of figure who can transcend the evil that we fear (poverty, being
> > a nobody, etc.)... who can warp the laws of the material world and
> > triumph over them.
> >
> > What is this dream but the hope for a detour? Instead of working all
> > day, I might be snatched from ill-fortune by purchasing the right
> > thing at the right time. Hence, the "success" of
> > multi-level-marketing companies like Amway and Herbalife and
> > Monavie... they offer the working class person a chance to be "the
> > boss" and to reap rewards by having others do the work for them.
> > (And, in the process, they tend to lose money.... but more
> > tragically.... they lose friends. The biggest irony: the money they
> > lose and the work they put in, the very fruits of their failure, will
> > be used, up the ladder, as evidence of "success.")
> >
> > Artists can do a lot just by affirming "human"
> > experiences--imagination, love, tragedy, laughter, absurdity, etc. I
> > cannot tell an artist what he or she should or shouldn't do... but I
> > do prefer artists who can speak to me. I like art that taps into my
> > notions and desires in such a way that I feel validated in my
> > experiences. And, I love art which helps me see something that I
> > didn't quite understand or couldn't precisely articulate in a way that
> > makes the experience useful to me.
> >
> > In short, these little ruptures are everywhere all the time. What
> > artists can do is mark them. They can show people that their own
> > lives are filled with meaningful alternatives to the machinations of
> > capitalism. And, in the process, people might seek happiness in one
> > of the many compelling alternative narratives.
> >
> > Peace!
> > Davin
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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