[-empyre-] complicty & a genealogy of disappearance?

Johanna Drucker drucker at gseis.ucla.edu
Tue Jan 12 00:50:01 EST 2010

Thanks for this re-branding discussion. Echoes of Orwell all over the  
place. His prescience and insight are terrifying. But what comes  
after? Is there any way in which we can envision affirmative or  
transformative agency?
Also, think Brett's remarks about phase spaces and avoiding outcome  
driven agendas are quite to the point.
Now the cliff hanger, how will John spin the rug discussion this week...


On Jan 10, 2010, at 10:59 PM, David Chirot wrote:

> Dear Nicholas and all:
> ----------------
> Now playing: Clarence 'Tom' Ashley - The Coo Coo Bird
> posted with FoxyTunes
> I think that another form of disappearance much in use today is the  
> use of rebranding:  a paradoxical disappearance, in that the things  
> remain the same, yet, via the rebranded name, appear to have  
> "changed," making the same thing now "disappear" as a NAME.  
> Depending on the depth and distances by which the new name has  
> "covered up" the former will be the depths and distances of the  
> palimpsest which contains within its strati the varying degrees of  
> "visibility," "Clarity" or "obscurity" of the traces of the "old  
> name."
> I think that in this sense rebranding becomes a method for essaying  
> to put distances between names and things so that "complicity"  
> whether "real" or "assumed," is "assumed" to have been "gotten rid  
> of."  For example, in a previous note in which i remark on the  
> "distance" created by rebranding the "avant-garde" as the "avant" or  
> "post-avant," the change of names might be examined as an effort to  
> put distance between the "old school" avant-garde and the current  
> "avant," in order to do away with the linking of the art worlds with  
> the military and military-industrial worlds in the term "avant- 
> garde. (Worlds might be also thought of, named, as "spheres,"  
> "theaters," "zones," etc.)
> Simply to be aware of an assumption, to have "recognized" it as  
> such, does not necessarily mean that it disappears; on the contrary,  
> the assumption may now be examined also as a means of making  
> something rise not simply to the "level of consciousness", but to  
> "push the envelope further" and accept the assumption as attaining  
> the “distinguished” status of an idee recue--that is, an idea, a  
> concept, an image, which is accepted unquestioningly at the same  
> time that one is aware that it is an assumption  For, after all, if  
> the idea is so wide spread--viral, global--does not this very wide- 
> spreadedness guarantee that a "majority" (in the polls, in items  
> sold, in courses taught about, with, for it etc. . . )  
> unquestioningly recognize the assumption itself, whether or not it  
> is an assumption—as something which has been, can be, taken to be,  
> if not “absolutely, verifiably,  true”, then at least as (a widely  
> recognized)  an idee recuee, a cliche, a stereotype, a “profile.”
> Here the "majority rules," as an assumption assumed to be one of the  
> "hallmarks" of "democracy."  The assumption, brought to the level of  
> consciousness, "carries the day democratically" so to speak, and may  
> be thought of as not ceasing to exist itself, but to be steadily  
> making other things disappear by its "advance." The more widespread,  
> the greater the depths, which the "majority assumption" has reached,  
> covered, rebranded, "shifted," detourned, the more it will disappear  
> while hidden in plain site/sight/cite.  The very immensity of the  
> assumption, and its "apparent" "all over effect," a la Richard  
> Wagner's Total Art Work, makes of it that famous "elephant in the  
> room" the consciousness of which "towers above" the previously  
> constructed ones.  This makes of the New Assumption a "stealth  
> juggernaut;" an analogy of which might be "seen" literally, for  
> example, in the sudden appearance of the Steroid Bodies in  
> Professional Baseball in the period roughly 1997-present. Here, the  
> complicity is a widespread one of truly Gargantuan, Paul Bunyanesque  
> actions, complicities, moving from the trainers and their assistants  
> and associate in the locker rooms to the doctors, the managers,  
> coaches, owners and the Commissioner himself.  yet, though it was  
> and is obvious to anyone seeing the sudden immense jump in size in  
> the 1997 season--everyone turned a blind eye to the problem for as  
> long as possible, in order that the Steroid Home Run derbies--as  
> well as all manner of other records falling by the  
> wayside--"rescued" baseball following the period of strikes and  
> strike shortened seasons.  Complicity here was indeed an immense  
> elephant in the room which everyone saw, but, by breaking it up into  
> different "cuts of meat" in order to blame one area at a time of  
> those complicit from another,  the "blame" was spread around and  
> eventually narrowed in on just a few major figures, the players of  
> course,. to absorb the blame and pay the price--the workers at the  
> "bottom" of the hierarchy, so to speak, get hell for the sins of the  
> whole Institution f baseball, which is not covered by anti-trust laws.
> In a sense, by cutting off the avant from avant-garde, the current  
> avant rises to shift the level of complicity from itself, and lay  
> the burdens on the avant-gardes like Futurism or many aspects of  
> Modernism.  However, the simple shifting of language in order to  
> make things disappear, as seen in politics of the avant and the  
> politics as a whole of the USA--in simply shifting a word both the  
> avant and politics are complicit in essaying to distance themselves  
> from accountability when it comes to say, torture--so though it  
> continues to be a widespread practice which continues to have  
> drastic effects on the American language, it is assumed to have  
> "disappeared," , it has a blind eye to it, because President Obama  
> said that it would stop, even though his administration continues on  
> an even grander scale than Bush's to make use of torture and to  
> build more secret prisons while making the Kandahar torture/prison/ 
> rendition flight air filed larger and larger and larger--
> For myself, since 9/11 especially, all language in use in the USA  
> are in complicity with the actions of torture, what Pierre Vidal- 
> Naquet calls the "cancer of Democracy."  Even if one does not deny  
> torture, or the US support of the Apartheid State of Israel and its  
> war crimes, as well as those committed daily by the USA--even if one  
> does not deny that these are happening, there is still the sense in  
> which these things are accepted as part of "homeland security's"  
> long reach not only at home but abroad also making it possible now  
> for the President to pick any person any where n the planet and have  
> them brought to the USA and detained indefinitely without any  
> charges being pressed against them
> Torture is just like a Russian artist’s description of language,  
> that it is a fascism not because it silences, censors, but because  
> it "forces one to speak."  It does not matter what is said by the  
> tortured person--no one cares if, as so often happens, the person is  
> lying--what matters is that they have been FORCED TO SPEAK--thus  
> eliminating their "fields of choice" among varying degrees of  
> silences, agreements, disagreements, lies, truths--the forcing to  
> speak as it were, while producing language, destroys language as  
> anything other than complicit with the actions and desires of the  
> torturer.
> I have been writing pieces for Jerome Rothenberg’s on line  
> developing anthology of outsider Poetries and Writings--I noticed it  
> written in a post today that there is a question of there needing to  
> be an outside if there is to be a chance for a fotm of critique of  
> complicity to arise. One might go further which is the basic  
> question that is--is there an Outside at all? To these far reaching,  
> devouring complicities supplying the endless tape worm hungers of  
> the gigantic maw of nothingness and control--is there an Outside?   
> Or is the Outside in large part eliminated by being devoured on the  
> one hand and on the other, like Chairman Mao’s famous "May a hundred  
> Flowers Bloom"--being forced to speak in order that it be identified  
> and then--executed, disappeared--with "speaking up/out" becoming an  
> immediate self-identification necessary to one's being sent to the  
> collective farms or to disappearing into the long rolls of documents  
> being scrolled into oblivion on which the names are named as the  
> persons vanish—a “roll call” called in order that the person  
> answering can now be removed as it were—from the rolls of the living— 
> that, by proclaiming oneself “present,” one has assured all and  
> sundry of one's imminent absence.
> The Israelis employ a term for that State’s resident citizen Arabs:   
> that they are “present absentees:” that is, while they exist in name  
> and in person for NOW as citizens, residents, since the strategies  
> and policies of the States are to make them imminently non-persons  
> both physically in name, they exist for now simply as those  
> suspended between as it were “being and nothingness,” between  
> presence and absence, between their being present as yet as  
> presences, and their being very-soon-to-be absences.
> Ass another form of complicity with “disappearances, absences,” the  
> Iraeli State unveiled last Spring in the subway tubes of London  
> travel, vacation posters for Israel which are not the current  
> “Israel” but the “Greater Israel” which is the ultimate goal of the  
> policy of ethnic cleansing and land settlement the State is using  
> against the Palestinians living inside “greater Israel” and as such  
> being still present on maps via place names and other indications of  
> presence, appearance.  To “speed up the process” as well as to  
> assure the invited guests of an absolute Security, the psaters have  
> “time traveled” to the point in time which they shall be in fact,  
> verifiably, true “on the ground.”  Al;ready, before the phsycial  
> fact is attained, the Palestinians have “disappeared” from a form of  
> consciousness associated with the State: i.e. that its “greater  
> Self” already exists, and that those impediments of the map’s Past,  
> have disappeared.  Where to is not a question which the posters,  
> maps, tourists, need be concerned.
> Complicity takes place in language before it appears physically—or,  
> in its own way, may reverse engineer names so that those of the  
> present have already as it were conquered those of the past.
> When one assumes that such maps, posters, stetements of a State or  
> other entity are “unquestioningly true” because of the ‘trust” which  
> one places in the maker of the statements, the maps, the posters,  
> one has been “roped in” as it were, as an accomplice “after the fact.”
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

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