[-empyre-] Demand Nothing, Occupy Everything? California is burning .//apologies resending this with the extra section...

David Chirot david.chirot at gmail.com
Sun Nov 22 15:58:42 EST 2009

Dear All:

my apologies are many as i forgot to include in the last letter from myself
the promised section --now rerstored to it poroper place--
thank you for your forbearance--david-bc

On Sat, Nov 21, 2009 at 8:50 PM, David Chirot <david.chirot at gmail.com>wrote:

> Thank you to everyone for the comments and news on the strikes on the UC
> campuses.
> For the last several years, besides attending live events here in
> Milwaukee, I've found that increasingly effective is the online sharing and
> signing of petitions; many of these work, or, beginning by spreading slowly
> through time, have  created  and do create generative updated versions of
> the petitions and gain ever more force as more and more people see that they
> are actually effective and begin signing themselves.
> I think since Reagan’s first term and almost first action as
> president—smashing the air controllers’ union—unions have become not just
> physically badly damaged in the USA, but the word itself has been distorted
> thro8ugh nonstop propaganda and become now a “dirty” word  and concept for
> a great many persons.  The back and forth supporting movement of smashing
> unions physically and economically—by physically I mean subversion by firing
> union workers and hiring much cheaper and less trained non union
> workers—this movement is supported at the same time by the attack on the
> language which makes unions appealing and strong sounding and converting the
> word into something smacking of both the ridiculous and the defeatist,
> something anachronistic and “a failure.”  “Everyone knows they don’t
> work-=-just look how they are disappearing!”  The words are supported by
> the actions and ice vers.
> I mentioned ridicule—one of the most effective tactics that Regan
> introduced was ridicule and cerataintn tones of voice which are like
> patronizing stabs in the back masked by a nice paternalist flashing
> Hollywood teeth.  Since Reagan began this trend, ridicule has increasingly
> been used to drive out of “being with it” just about any “lefty” term you
> can think of.
> Another factor has been that since 9/11 I’ve noticed that academics as well
> as many others in different jobs and work sectors—are afraid to sing
> petitions because it might affect their jobs.  One might be easily gotten
> rid of by a petition being used to show that Professor or student so –and-so
> is a “Jihad sympathizer” or “critical of Israel” or critical of the US
> policies aboard whether they be torture, rendition flights, drone bombings,
> support of Apartheid, and so forth.
> Now that the economic crises has made jobs even more precious, one may see
> even more of a drop off of certain sectors being willing to risk anything by
> singing a petition which can be pulled out and used as “evidence” at any
> time.
> The flipside of the viral techniques has been demontsrated by the Israeli
> State’s policy announced first last November and then stated more firmly and
> with greater scope in February of this year by then Foreign Minister tip
> Livni.  This policy is what Minister Livni called “an assault” on Facebook
> my space you tube, the blogosphere –an assault on any sites which seem to be
> “critical of Israel” or remotely sympathetic to the Palestinian people’s
> cause.  The idea is to wipe out such sites, or, to censor their
> statements, videos, and fotos and replace them with heavily pro-Israeli
> images, slogans, propaganda, posters and altered maps.
> This is viral “striking’ in the “assault” sense of the term for sure—and
> conducted by a State with the fourth largest military in the world to back
> it up if need be.  The flip side of this tactic is to also cut off the
> electricity of the “other side’ so that they cannot conduct any sort of
> retaliatory campaign of their own.
> Increasing an anti-viral tactic has been just this—to turn off, cut off,
> bomb out, the electricity grids of large areas, and in this “deleted zone”
> undertake step two of the “extinguishing of light” which is the mass
> slaughter of civilians when they are “blacked out” from the gaze of the
> world.
> Rwanda was the first such example undertaken—before the massacres, the area
> designated for them was stripped of any communication with the outside
> world. All electronic contacts were severed, al telephone grids, electric
> grids etc were chopped apart and then in the deleted zones, the human beings
> were chopped down and deleted from existence on the ground.  This tactic
> has been used to varying degrees in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Lebanon
> and Palestine, specifically Gaza, most recently to a greater extent than
> ever during the several years now siege by the assaults on the ground and
> electronically via deletion in January of this year.
> In the USA, this tact has been and is being used against the American
> Indians on the great majority of extremely poor rezervations.  The living
> conditions and medical care of the American Indians is now tied with Haiti
> as the worst in the Western hemisphere.
> One effective tactic in this new form of eugenics/genocide is the lack of
> health care not only as care but as information—the excuse that is given for
> the total lack of information received by the Indians is that they live
> often n areas too remote for the Bureaucrats in charge locally to drag their
> asses into the car to drive to and physically distribute information and
> care to the Indians residing in these “remote areas.”  This laziness
> /deliberate action is buttressed now by the excuse of saying that al of this
> informtion is now being made available to the Indians  of this and/or that
> rez is on line, at sites speficllay set up the bureaucrats for the Indians’
> use.
> The catch is that hardly any of the Indians in these areas have access to
> compuetrs at all.
> Since they don’t have computers and can’t receive al this wonderful info,
> the fault of course is the Indians, for they’re not having computers.  Sincemany
> areas don
> ‘t have electricity either, it seems al a very pointless situation, and is
> just left to stay that way.
> Again the disconnection of non-viral deletion from existence is ineffective
> tool in the ongoing disappearance of that mythical being, the “Vanishing
> American Indian,” just as it in the Vanishing Palestinian, the vanishing
> Iraqi, and the vanishing Rwandans situations.
> One can foresee that if things “get out of hand” by the use of viral
> tactics in strikes and demos al that need be done is simply to cutoff the
> electricity to hose areas, and delete them from “electronic action.”
> I agree with –in writing that petitions and grassroots actions , grass
> roots transmissions of information, of papers to be signed, of speeches to
> be heard, is (potentially)  far more effective than the viral tactics
> which are spread out of over a bewildering array of web sites and electronic
> notice boards.  Although I have seen and participated in electronic
> action, petitioning sharing of articles and fotos, at the same time there’s
> the sense that it is not as inspiring as direct action undertaken with
> others with whom one is in direct physical “touch.”  The viral is an
> excellent tool, but it can’t be the only one—for it is just as easy, if not
> more so, to disrupt than physical disruptions of organized actions.  If
> the two were used together it would make for much greater effectiveness, as
> well as being more difficult to disrupt and dis-organize.
> this excerpt from al onger piece is re language as it becomes more and more
> bureacratized in the form of rebrandings and words which as in Orwell's 1984
> are nurtured  as the person stop thinking rationally by accepting that 2 +
> 2=5, war= peace
>  or that our great leap forward in electing a Black President is "cnaage"
> rather than rebrandings, slight advances which make it possible to whole
> heartedly endorse and fund an Aparteid State
> again, many thanks to all for the fascainting and informative respsones
> throughout this discusson-
> david-bc
> A phrase i keep meaning to send you as it's an interesting depiction of the
movement of the Outsider despite labels/because of labels is the following
from Jim Thompson's great hardboiled novel/roman noir *The Killer Inside Me.
Billy Bob Walker, a hell raising populist lawyer, a sort of low rent
Clarence Darrow, is explaining his philosophy to prospective client Deputy
Lou Ford, a psycho serial killer who poses as the blandest and dumbest of
persons, a real stereotypical living, spitting image of a “West Texas
Lawman” speaking as much as possible in clichés to hide a "superior
intelligence" that has decayed due to lack of use.

Billy Bob Walker is telling Deputy Ford the two things he learned in
Agronomy School that shaped his life’s work.  Here he speaks of the second,
perhaps even more important one:

 (It) was a definition I got out of the agronomy book . . . Before that I'd
seen everything in black and   white, good and bad.  But after I was set
straight I saw that the name you put to a thing depended one where it stood
and where you stood.  And . . . Here's the definition, right out of the
agronomy books: *"’a weed is a plant out of place.’*  I find a hollyhock
in my cornfield and it's a weed.  I find it in my yard, and it's a flower.”

A Weed is a plant out of place! There’s a kind of gallows humor to it—

In “Composition as Explanation” Gertrude Stein writes of how things, art
works, writing which at first seem ugly, eventually become seen as
beautiful, because the ugly thing has inaugurated a way of looking that
brings other previously thought of ugly things into the realm of beauty, and
so the original is finally recognized itself as beautiful—its position as
such well buttressed by those works which it initiated as, in a sense, its
own proofs via a form of reverse engineering.

  Stein then goes on to remark that the time between a work being seen as
ugly (“a plant out of place”) and beautiful is growing steadily less in the
modern world.  “The interval is less and less.”  We might think of this as
the great American advertising phrase:  “The Instant Classic” which has NO
interval according to the ad writers.

(One of whom who knows might be a poet, like Lew Welch, who worked as an
adman in Chicago-or Allen Ginsberg who gave it a brief shot in his first
days in San Francisco—trying one last time to lead a “straight” life---)

Deputy Ford has self consciously created his cardboard cut out existence,
and has adopted the cliche as a form of weapon as part of his self

Here he’s speaking to the Greek owner of a small restaurant:

     The smile on his face was getting strained.  I could hear his shoes
creak as he squirmed.  If there’s anything worse than a bore, it’s a corny
bore. But how can you brush off a nice friendly fellow who’d giver you his
shirt if you asked for it?

     “I reckon I should have been a college professor or something like
that,” I said.  Even when I’m asleep I’m working out problems.  Take that
heat wave we had a few weeks ago; a lot of people think it’s the heat that
makes it so hot.  But it’s not like, Max.  It’s not the heat, but the

       He cleared his throat and muttered something about being wanted in
the kitchen I pretended like I didn’t hear him. . . .

           “Well,” I said, “I guess I’d better shove off. I’ve got quite a
bit getting around to do, and I don’t want to rush.  Haste makes waste in my
opinion.  I like to look before I leap.”

              That was dragging them in my by the feet, but I couldn’t
hold’em back.  Striking at people that way is almost as good as the other,
the real way . . . “

     I quote at such length because in poetry, Baudelaire is the first
–maybe only—to proclaim his desire to write a cliche.  This would be a form
of “advance –(avant-garde)—engineering” in that the cliché—usually
recognized as such far down the line from the original phrase—would be
created as one immediately, a phrase for which the interval between poetic
line and cliché does not exist—an Instant Classic so tedious and oft used as
to be immediately  an Instant Cliché.

Baudelaire has recognized from the start the beauty/curse of much modernism:
that due to the commodification and reification of every phase and particle
of existence and its productions, the market can ever more quickly subsume,
swallow, devour the “avant-garde” and turn it into clichés fit for the
museum or for Flaubert’s’ *Dictionairre des idees recues. *

* *

Already there is at the beginning of modernism the image/idea of Pop Art.  Or
for that matter Malraux’s Museum without Walls.  Satie’s desire to produce a
background or “Furniture” music, a Wall paper music—reaches its logical
conclusion in the canned sounds of elevator music, which is made up of those
clichés known as “Rock’s Biggest Hits” etc—3 am TV advertised collections of
music heard so many thousand times they seem to have emerged from out of
nowhere and everywhere and in a sense have always and will always exist in
that realm of timelessness which even in 3 am TV infomercials is known as
the Eternal. “Eternal Classic/Classical beauty . . . “

Ironically, perhaps the “stasis” of “Eternal Classical Beauty” and of the
Status Quo is produced by the “running down” of Entropy towards the solid
state. The cliché also would seem to be part of this stasis, this having
reached a steady state in which its only real function is to be repeated ad
nauseum ad infinitum—The way to “rejuvenate” these “rundown” word-machines
is to essay to inject them with the energy of the slogan, the advertising
campaign, the zeal generating Mantra of a clung-to Idea of progress. Since
the “avant” or “avant-garde” is quite literally to be taken as “in
advance,”—or perhaps “an advance” in the sense of an advance on the payment
to come in the future an advance on the Utopian Future just around the
corner---- leading the way further into the future, the new, the signs of
Actual Progress Being made—the “avant” itself becomes a mish mash of
clichés, slogans, advertising techniques, rebrandings and so forth. This
would be the model in use today by the American “Poetic’ establishment with
its dogmatic, reverent repetition of a select set of phrases which each are
to “stand in for” a “radical, innovative” rhetorical designation of anything
which it approves of and designates as “New” “avant” being in actuality this
very article the “new, progressive, radical, innovative . . . hybrid,
digital, etc—“what really matters are not things nor actions, events but
simply names.  Intoned, chanted, like mantras—Magic Words which will
displace al the dross and impedimenta of the dreary past and dim present—and
usher in, “avant la lettre”—the utopia of a perfected, purified “language of
the tribe . . . “

This system then is dependent on rhetoric to give a semblance of life to
what amounts to a long dead set of clichés, slogans, rebrandings, retreads
and watered down versions of things already passed, yet mounted as an “avant
attack” on the system because they attack not the system but the hidden fact
of the entropy of their chosen phrases and assigned “meanings” and
“doctrines.” What matters is not the substance but the semblance of there
being “progress.”

As things run down they run –towards the concealed stasis, steady state,
status quo--as towards El Dorado--

To give the semblance of “progress”—

Actually I think what is very interesting is that Deputy Lou Ford uses the
needling of the cliché as a way of “striking out”—which for quite some time
he manages to subsist on rather than striking out in the “real way”—sadistic

The idea of the cliché as a form of displaced violence, as a form of the
postponement of violence—

And also the relationship of the cliché to the slogan, to the construction
of advertisements, and poems whose lines will someday be a cliché—a form of
propaganda mounted in the present against itself perhaps—as an already
existing futurity that has been kidnapped and reset in the past, like a
reverse engineering as in Fellini’s calling his Satyricon “a science fiction
film set in the past . . .”

As in the detournement of the Situationists—the  cliché can be detourned to
reveal these strange disruptions of time in which the future is “falling
backwards”—while progress “comes to a stand till”--

Is the cliché a form of plagiarism then—plagiarizing of the vitality of the
poetic line, a kidnapping of it, to bring “new life” to outworn phrases
while at the same time preserving that new life as in amber—“cutting it off
at the knees, at the pass” and diverting its energies in to the cliché—a
cliché now “squared’ as in a mathematical equation—doubled, and then
doubling the doubling, an algebraic advance into a static monumentality
growing “longer and longer lasting”—a futurity crushing the present as an
image of the past disguised as the “old, beloved, well worn words . . . “

Which is Lou ford’s project—to use the cliché as a form of concealment—a
kind of kid glove over the fist clenched to murder, to strike out “in the
real way”--

Which detournement has to kidnap in turn to upset, over turn the dead riding
on the heaped wagons returning from the ‘war of words. . “

It has to rip off the glove and reveal the fist—which is al set as it were
to “deliver the punch line”—

The poetic line—

Turned against its cliché self—a kind of violence in overturning its own
burial and sending leaping out of the grave those undead beings known as

One of the ironies re plagiarism is that Ducasse in* Poesies* writes that it
is necessitated by “progress”—(now I am trying to recall who I just read
ranting against “necessity—“—in a way that made good sense, towards a
specific form of necessity--)

Perhaps this being made necessary by progress means that plagiarism of
Ducasse’s sort is “liberating” the words from their other wise “march of
progress” towards the steady state of institutional bureaucratic clichés--

* *

> On Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 10:32 AM, Christiane Robbins <cpr at mindspring.com>wrote:
>> Hi Marco, Micha, everyone
>> The irony implicit in your statement re: this situation begs for further
>> explication + analysis:
>> It is only in this country that three decades of brainwashing have
>> led to the obliteration of historic memory (the cancellation of May1st
>> being the most notable example), and to the perception that going on
>> strike is somehow out of fashion.
>> And ... to add to the circulating narratives and links -
>> I found it curious that the Chronicle for HE published this -
>> http://chronicle.com/blogPost/California-Is-Burning/8915/?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
>> Chris
>> On Nov 19, 2009, at 8:34 AM, Marco Deseriis wrote:
>> Hi Micha,
>> yes, thank you for sharing those precious links.
>> At UCSD, very few students, faculty and staff that I've talked to knew
>> about or support the strike do. Myself and a handful of other faculty,
>> staff and students are striking, but is the very idea of a strike not
>> viral but more based in monolothic constituencies and factory models
>> of labor?
>> No, I just think that after 3-4 decades of resting on dreams of unabated
>> growth Americans (and Californians in particular) need to be re-educated
>> and reawakened as to what it means to lose one's job, as to what it
>> means to fight for it, and what it means to risk of losing your job for
>> defending it. So thank you for taking on this rather humongous task ;-)
>> To me it is not a matter of virality but of culture. People in Latin
>> America, Asia, Europe and all over the world keep going on strike for
>> defending their jobs, demanding higher wages, security on the workplace,
>> etc. It is only in this country that three decades of brainwashing have
>> led to the obliteration of historic memory (the cancellation of May1st
>> being the most notable example), and to the perception that going on
>> strike is somehow out of fashion.
>> In actual fact, there exists a growing global movement to defend public
>> education, and to build an entirely different model of knowledge
>> sharing. You are probably familiar with this site:
>> http://www.edu-factory.org
>> which reports the news of 15 arrests at UCLA:
>> http://www.edu-factory.org/edu15/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=240:students-arrested-at-ucla&catid=34:struggles&Itemid=53
>> and whose picture eloquently show the response of public authorities to
>> this growing mobilization.
>> Perhaps the spreading occupations are more viral? I wonder
>> about this as I start going on strike tomorrow and join actions at
>> UCSD...
>> Well, it is not up to me to say that strikes and occupations are just
>> two sides of the same coin.
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
>> C h r i s t i a n e   R o b b i n s
>> **
>> *- J E T Z T Z E I T  ** S T U D I O S -*
>> *
>> *
>> *... the space between zero and one  ...*
>> *Walter Benjamin*
>> **
>> *" The present age prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to
>> the original, fancy to reality, *
>> *the appearance to the essence *
>> *for in these days*
>> * illusion** only** **is sacred, truth profane."*
>> Ludwig Feuerbach, 1804-1872
>> *
>> *
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
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