[-empyre-] The Poetics of Torture

Michael Angelo Tata, PhD mtata at ipublishingllc.com
Wed Apr 29 11:29:30 EST 2009

Amazing!  I am just overwhelmed by the Guantanamo Project--it's the perfect supplement to those pornographic (at bare minimum fetishistic) Abu Ghraib photos that scandalized the public (hooded men on boxes, random cadets popping into the frame to mark the image as souvenir, Diane Arbus meets Robert Mapplethorpe).  The connections with Villon are quite compelling, and bring me back to the tortured body at the start of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, while the torture encoded into Villon's lines invokes the opening scene of Kenneth Russell's masterpiece of grotesquerie, The Devils, all those pock-marked, Promethean Protestants baking on giant wheels under a blazing sun while birds of prey initiate a feeding frenzy on their dying flesh.  Thanks so much for sharing.  All along, I have found your aesthetic direction critical to our debate, as rather than provide some dessicated and abstract theory devoid of physical anchoring or eruupting in anger that everyone is out to lunch, you have always made sure to tie your arguments to specific and particular projects and moments that have illuminated your ideas as well as those of this Forum's stars and peanut gallery.  Best of luck on this and other work.      

Michael Angelo Tata, PhD  347.776.1931-USA


Date: Tue, 28 Apr 2009 11:51:55 -0700
From: david.chirot at gmail.com
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Subject: [-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called "crisis"

i didn't know if this hadn't made it through so resending--
manythanks! davidbc

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: David Chirot <david.chirot at gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 8:37 AM
Subject: [-empyre-] Artists' responses to the so-called "crisis"
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>

My apologies as this was written a bit ago and only now  did i do a last edit.

The first section are links for my ongoing project "The New Extreme Experimental American Poetry & Arts"
(a brief notice abt it from my blog is below)

The letter i wrote follows the links and the notice.

M project as presented here includes essays, Visual Poetry,Fiction short stories re "El Colonel," and Visual Poetry/Mail Art Calls at my blog. and extends into other forms as well.

I have been working on this project many years now--many of the issues at my blog and in works for example, are among the few (some say onlyone, esp the first several years ) responses in the USA done by a poet/artist .  Hopefully now there will be more.  



"The New Extreme Experimental American Poetry."

two examples published in on-line journals:
David-Baptiste Chirot: "Waterboarding & Poetry"
Wordforword #13 Spring 2008
(also has Visual Poetry by chirot)
Poems from Guantánamo
The Detainees Speak
David Baptite ChirotNo
KAURAB Translation Site

Began July 2006

Mail Art/Visual Poetry Call

"For Lebanon, For Palestine
Human Rights-Peace-Liberty"
Size: A4 Max (postal)
Deadline/Fecha Limite: Ongoing/Sins Limite
Documentation: http://davidbaptistechirot.blogspot.com
Addresses: davidbchirot at hotmail.com

Began Summer 2008

Cinema of Catharsis flikr Gallery -96 Visual Poetry works-
Cinema of Catharsis



Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

No Sieges, Tortures, Starvation & Surveillance
Deadline/Fecha Limite: SinsLimite/ongoing
Size: No limit/Sin Limite
No Limit on Number of Works sent
No Limit on Number of Times New Works Are Sent
Documentation: on my blog
Addresses: david.chirot at gmail.com

DAVID-BAPTISTE CHIROT: "Conceptual Poetry and its Others ... Conceptual Poetry and its Others"---Haunting Questions Found Hidden in Plain Site/Sight/Cite (Essay) & RubBEings Statements & 30 Visual Poetry Works 

Death from this Window/Doors of Guanatanmo--200 Visual Poems

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chirotzer0/sets/72157615852044943/About the set

42 The "El Colonel Files" thus far 
Sous Rature

David-Baptiste Chirot. El Ojo de Dios For Leonardo Sciascia “J'ai trop a ecrire, c'est pourquoi ... El Colonel smiles. Bright birds sing in the morning air. ...
necessetics.com/dbc.html - 12k - Cached - Similar pages -  

POETRY KESSEL-LO POEZIE / David-Baptiste Chirot

Category Archives: David-Baptiste Chirot .... Download the El Colonel Smiles Chapbook (.doc file) (Original Word file prepared by the author) ...

www.vilt.net/kessello/?cat=27 - 80k - Cached - Similar pages -


David-Baptiste Chirot EL CINEMA DE CATARSIS: El Colonel’s Eyes are Tracking. The cinema is death at work—Jean Cocteau “For now we see, as through a glass, ...

the-otolith.blogspot.com/2009/01/david-baptiste-chirot-el-cinema-de.html - 25k - otoliths David-Baptiste Chirot El Colonel’s Composition BOOK sean burn cdmn · Two Visual Pieces Scott Helmes & John M. Bennett Three Visual Poems ...

The New Extreme Experimental American Poetry""As usual, the only symptoms we had were in the language."
--Pier Paulo Pasolini

To degenerate as a result of the use of torture, & by its concealment & deception question human dignity & individual rights--

In the first lines of his Introduction to Torture: Cancer of Democracy France and Algeria 1954-62, Pierre Vidal-Naquet asks "Can a great nation, liberal by tradition, allows its institutions, its army, and its system of justice to degenerate over the span of a few years as a result of the use of torture, and by its concealment and deception of such a vital issue call the whole Western concept of human dignity and the rights of the individual into question?"

To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change

In The Peloponnesian War, Book 3, Thucydides states:
"To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change. What used to be thought of as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one would expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward, any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one's unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant one was totally unfitted for action; frenzied violence came to be considered an attribute of a real man. "

Necessity is the Mother of Invention
These entries are ongoing found materials with which I work on various projects. They are an Anarkeyology of Site/Sight/Cites in which, by relinking the Military & Art meanings of "avant-garde," I find different ways of investigating separations, Walls, silences, distranslations, forgeries, torture, "New speak," censorship and propaganda as elements common to both war and writing/art historically & in the USA today.

The finding of these materials and the questions they open are, I find, "necessary," as the Formal separations of the American "avant-gardes" from the Military & external/ internal imperialist realities are among the "symptoms . . . in language" that Pasolini notes "we (have) to go on."

Separations in, of, and by language are "necessary" to Vidal-Naquet's "concealment " of "torture, cancer of democracy," whose "deceptions" erect barriers, Walls, prisons, "Security," Surveillance between not only the torturers and the tortured, Occupiers and the Occupied, but between actions and words, so that a culture conceals itself from itself.

Materials & questions that are "necessary" to examine separations, concealment's, deceptions that are "necessary"--

"Necessary"--but how? For a long time I found materials but not the way, until an artist friend sent me in 2003 Distant Star by Roberto Bolano. 9/11 1973 and 9/11/2001--the link of the American backed Pinochet coup in Chile and the dawn of the Patriot Act & Shock and Awe opened this Pandora's Box, and the connections which Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine (2007) most explicitly details the history of.

"Necessary"--to find among the "fictional" and the "factual," among street debris and the debris of writing & arts, these interconnections and relinkings, the symptoms in language, is a work found by what I call "Necessity, the Motherfucker of Invention."

In The Moro Affair, Leonardo Sciascia writes:
"Indeed when the truth which had been confined to literature emerged harsh and tragic within the context of everyday life, and could no longer be ignored, it seemed as if it were a product of literature."

This "truth" " is something so "obvious"that it becomes treated as a separation, a "fiction," rather than a "real, true fact."

To work the "Hidden in Plain Site/Sight/Cite" can in this way be considered a "fiction," compared to the "reality" of a Formal Separation which is "immune to these things."

Sciascia notes the "Hidden in Plain Site/Sight/Cite" in using an expression from Poe's "The Purloined Letter:"

"(W)hat we called the invisibility of the obvious . . . (from Poe's Dupin) . . others have called over-obviousness . . . an obviousness linked to other obviousnesses , all of them conforming to a . . . concept of the clandestine."

This "invisibility" is separated from the "real, true fact," which the account and appearances of events create as the version that is "believed" to have occurred.

Sciascia quotes a dictionary:

"One says: a real true fact. and such like. Real in this case seems to reinforce true, not simply as pleonasm but thus: a real true fact hasn't simply occurred but it has occurred as it is told, as it appeared, as it is believed . . . "

The separation of "what is told, as it appeared, as it is believed" from what is "the invisibility of the obvious" allows for the concealment and deception Vidal-Naquet writes of.
--i thought the best way to "explain" is to "show for reading and seeing--"
in the periods of life when have been making art works etc -since a child when i started making collages and "shrines" 'crow's nests" "concrete poems"(out of concrete blocks"--i have always responding with art works to the crises on going all one's life--
with performance events, writing, visual poetry Mail Art, essays,poems, Sound Poetry--

in 2000 though i was denied permission to go to Cuba--organized with Clemente Padin the Mail Art Hit Parade and since 1997 hundreds of Mail Art/Visual Poetry Call internationally regrading all sorts of issues--
with the email and web sites blogs to day this kind of work is getting er faster to distribute, not t mention having sites to distribute to, a great many individuals to send to--and participate collectively in actions via art--
the action being in  this case that one made a work and sent it to another place or person and that way "was there" for the events in their location--

it has been found that petitions and calls for art work on line actually work far better than had been expected--hopefully as apart of works done by many others also-it will motivate especially americans to get back out in to the streets for actions also, not simply signing something on email and letting it go at that--
"my name was visible to many so many know how i feel, where i stand"--with out any more contributing of time and work, thought, communications
still even this signing on line does have more effects than one knows until one starts getting involved with it

i do know in the USA that various groups besides the feral govt are keeping tabs on what people sign and for which causes or actions--
but if one goes silent out of fear, then the censors and bullies have won--

in June 2006 i had begun my ongoing series of WALLS works when the Invasion of Lebanon and Palestine was launched by the Israeli State.  I decided then to open a call on my blog for Mail Art,, Visual Poetry  etc--called "For Lebanon, For Palestine:  Peace Human Rights Liberty"

this Call was very successful and people still send works to it as it is "sins limites"--ongoing, no deadlines--

last summer i began a new call which you will find the full name of below, to do with Prisons, Surveillance, Torture, Walls--virtual and on the ground--

These include the "Big Names"  like Gaza Guantanamo Abu Ghraib and now the immense torture prison almost done at the sinister Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, at which detainees were routinely and  ruthlessly tortured before their rendition flights to Guantanamo or elsewhere--

President Obama's Administration , despite closing down Guantanamo in a year, has actually kept al the Bush policies on detainees and renditions tortures--an in some cases gone further than even Bush & Co had dared to.  The use of "rebranding" to cause something known as "bad" to be renamed so that it is now "good" with out changing anything at all has been much described as a Hallmark of the Machine which ran the President's campaign and is now in charge of "setting things straight," "cleaning up America's image in the world, and making sure the President is appearing as completely different and as absolutely beautiful, powerful,sane and engaged in every way that his predecessor was not.

The issue of Prisons, torture, surveillance is not "outside the US," but woven directly into the daily lives and families of millions of  Americans The explosion in the prison population has gone way way beyond the means that the States have to house and guard and feed and give medical treatment to, making it necessary to hire the new and very willing Private Sector companies who have sprung up as "experts" in Penal housing, control and care.  These private companies are not bound by the same set of laws and standards was the State and federal ones are, so there have become to appear some truly horrific "prisons" which are beyond the Law themselves in the housing, feeding and guarding prisoners.

As he USA has the most people and highest percentage of population in prison both of any country n the world--over two millions of persons--in prisons which have become true hells, their example is begin used as an example among others for the as yet nascent though also exploding population of 'detainees" and "illegal aliens" and their families, who are incarcerated an held in different camps and prisons than the males in the family.
Today those "aberrations" of American behaviour and Civil Rights abuses, the Camps used for detaining Japanese-American citizens during WW2--are finding themselves being resurrected, only as Camps far worse than those of sixty years ago.

This would indicate really a decline in the American State's consideration of "Others" in  terms of being human, of having Human and Civil Rights,--for now they are treated in a fashion completely inhuman, and not seen used on American soil against American citizens or illegal resident/workers since the Camps of both North and South during the Civil War.There are no Andersonvilles-YET--one might speculate . . . .

Then there are prisons/factories like the hellish Pottsville kosher meat packing firm, with conditions bordering on torture and working condition s that are illegal in most places in the world, let alone these United States.

When the detainees and illegal workers are found out, it is they who suffer, not the suddenly "moral" corporation who changes its tune and brings in new Rabbis, Minsters Sensitivity trainers etc to "ensure ethical treatments"--which is not the same to be sure as Human Rights nor with compliance with legal dictates.

Along with NSA' spying,  now known to be far more widespread and invasive than had previously been thought or speculated on-----all  these prisons, public, private, factory/prisons, schools turned prisons  with armed guards and  expensive, state of the art  security--'No More Columbines!"-- are making in America itself a vast, incredibly expensive system not unlike that in Gaza, the world's largest prison, guarded with by massive Walls and the world's 4th largest Military, to which the US contributes billions annually. 
This War Criminal horror show  abroad massively funded by the US is modeled on and resembles very much,  the US Government and Private Companies' annihilation of the American Indians (among them most of my family living at the time).  In both the US and Israel the annihilation of Indigenous and local populations is to take away lands and claim them as one's own in the name of Greed and Power (and God, "Manifest Destiny"  too, depending on the individuals, the society).

If one examines the proliferation of Walls  being built around the world, at borders (US-Mexico border "invisible" Wall/Fence being built buy Israel and US--the Walls in Iraq the Americans built--huge increase in "Gated Communities" which hire their own Private Security Companies)--al these Walls exploding like mushrooms after a rain--make al to plain that the taking down of the Berlin Wall for a great many was nothing but a cynical propaganda tool, whose true nature is now being constructed, far outstripping the old model supposedly done away by the "good" who now make hells for others who are, like the former Cold War opponents,  "bad."

I have also been researching and writing alot and studying the Walls of the Web, and the uses of electricity to create realities which exist only on line--which pave the way for the colonization of information ideas,markets as well as the changing first in Virtuality those changes planned to be undertaken soon by force "on the ground."

There are many examples of this ,the most recent and much publicized one being the campaign  described by a Minister of State as an "Assault"  on the Web in many of its aspects--Face Book, You Tube, MySpace etc--launched by the Israel State as a "follow up" to the Gaza Massacres earlier this year.  This policy had been announced as early as last November, however, with the "PR debacle" that Gaza was for the State of Israel, the Campaign truly did now need to be a now massive assault.  This official Israeli State statement follows in the footsteps and models of a large number of already  functioning -groups who have  themselves declared their aim to be the  systematic erasing every Palestinian-named refugee camp, village, hamlet from the online maps, and replace them with "new" villages and hamlets--which are named in Hebrew, showing on line to the interested searcher--an Israel which as yet does not exist on the ground, but by virtue of this renaming, this rebranding, begins to 

"exist" "solidly" "factually" enough to create in people's minds the idea that it does indeed exist. Then,  when these places are suddenly taken over in military-theft actions, no one will be surprised because they think those lands "already belong to Israel" and so the Israelis have a right to drive out and kill as many of the residents as possible-and then the maps will indeed be exact presentations of the reality, the "situation on the ground."  

As well as maps,  the "assault" is now also launched  on a far wider and more populated stage--that is, where maps cannot "listen" and "respond," the people who uses Face book, MySpace,blogs, post videos--can be engaged "interactively" with a view to change their opions and ideas, (and votes and signing of petitions, donations of money)-and where not possible to change, to censor, delete, destroy, make massive complaints about and on and on--al l the standard methods of propaganda and disinformation campaigns.

In my art work and writing and the selecting of materials other than art, poetry from around th world, i practice what i think of is a a teaching really so that others may be more aware of the ways language and the Internet in al its forms are being used to not only shift perceptions and minds, strr up hate or cause immense ignorance ft the actuality in existence, but also to stifle open discussion and to stifle independent thinking.

Via Rebranding, ides, images, writings, videos--may be "vanished" and at the same "reappear' under another name as now the property of someone else with more power than oneself. Since people find it on the Internet, of course they think It is TRUE--

so your ideas, your work, your person-hood--cease to exist.

The "Death of the Author" consists in the Death of Other Authors, so the "one left standing" is now THE Author.  

Hence the "Authority" of the powerful--and the ones who have power to turn on their computers--!!--to redefine rebrand rearrange and reframe the major issues of the world, of one's fields of interest, of one's safety also--

Very quickly one observes on line the speed at which things are taken over , colonized, reframed and turned in to the opposite of what they were, wit still the same name--
or not changed at all but simply given a different name--

One aspect of my work with found and cheap materials is that i am prepared to exist with or without (as i have for years at time--no matter when homeless or not--he online virtuality--i think that more and more people will be deprived of electricity as the recession deepens--and that way--they may not be able to survive when faced with hard cold reality--or--they ma finally wake u fro the spell of the screens--

I am not at all a Luddite as obviously I am writing with you now and my work would not reaching more than  few people without the Web.  What  I am writing about and studying is the interrelationship of "avant_garde" Digital Works and the like as "Liberation" when i fact they offer ever more opportunities for one to be Controlled, to be turned into a consumer mindless follow orders and selecting over and over the One True Brand in all its "choices,"  And so find oneself--if one does at all--turned into a person not thinking for oneself, not questioning the completely purloined and purged versions of information art and history-- and instead unquestioningly embracing of the surfaces of anything,  including the Internet,that Authority presents one with, not stopping to examine if it is so or not--and so finding oneself thinking more and more along the same lines as millions of others worldwide.turn 

Sudeenly, mass consenses are formed, Mass Agreement is seen happening, on matters which suddenly vanish once the One Version has been decided upon.

In the USA espcially isee this happening moreandmore al the time--

andinthis way "art" is being "disconnected from politics" so that it may exist and police in its "own sphere."

"Poetry Wars" take precdence over huge Wars with millions of deaths--

And the continual arguing and fighting over the uses of words and their structuring as sentences, as ideas--this continual fighting--is strangling distorting and making often meaningless very real and dangerous issues on the ground one is actually walking on

I am afraid i have not expressed this very well being in a rush to make it to work--in the office where I live--
Not only poorly expressed but--not emphasizing enough who easily it is to everyday create oneself and believe in  also--whatever dsisnfmoration comes along--and not thick critically of who the source is, and is it related in strange ways to things it was not before?

In the uSA one finds that al over again we are facing continual manipulation of Language and image to have minds "changed"--or to be thinking that they are changed and not realizing they are not.

Burroughs wrote a great deal about these new forms of Control arsing, in which people think of themselves one way when their behaviours do not fit their own self imaged beliefs, values etc--

This disconnect between Virtuality, Language, Images and the events which occur "on the ground" enables the Shock Doctrine effects and "assaults" which Naomi Klein writes of so brilliantly in her book of that name (Shock Doctrine.)

a little have show how my art.lie/crises are not compartmentalized but lived and worked felt and thought as being all very much of a part,  of a part of the many simultaneous "Beings" which carry my name--those Others one is--

Ina  sense writing and art are decodings deciphering of masses of texts thrown at one continually--that "assault" meant top later the conditions and the consciousness of oneself among many millions others.

So one works and lives and thinks, feels and observes in order to find the ways of possibility, of those differences right there before one's eyes and which one finds all too often being shut down, shut up--or forced to speak, to give up not so much a truth but simply to be being forced to speak so that one does--

As a Russian artists said--"Language is a fascism, not because it censors or distorts, but because it is a Forcing to Speak."

It is this fascism which daily is gettig stonger--in the US--that as Woody Guthrie wrote on his guitar--"This Machine Kills Fascism"--

Not Guns but Guitars!--or as i say--Spray Paint Not Bullets!!

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