[-empyre-] a bank of ideas

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Nov 23 08:05:06 EST 2011

hello all

i caught the end of a posting by Simon, about the place of theatricalities in activism, and started to read or imagine reading about the OCCUPY movement in relationship to the theme of this month,
and was not sure whether Nicholas, whose comments I recite below, was not being a bit overly casual in its dismissiveness towards the "amateurs"   (and in discussions on new performativities, say, 
related to vlogging and other social network practices, so-called amateurism is preferred over the disciplined professionals Nicholas prefers to see doing the occupying...

<< Simon Taylor schreibt>> 

>>What struck me first about Occupy Wall St. were its theatrical possibilities. Then I heard about the chorus effect.
Those little blue hyperlinked "heres" - what do they mean? With Derrida the ghost of presence at the rampart? Or the possibility of an ethology arising out of the theatricality of the medium? For example, the form of popular activism of OWS.
How does that work? Nicholas, the fact that the people's or human mic becomes ritualistic and cultish is surely the point. It has detached. A medium gains value like this, without necessarily meaning anything, and linked to the particularities of time and place positively migrates.>>

<<Nicholas Roberts schreibt>>

I must say, I think the Occupy thing is becoming more like a Jonestown group-think, ritual suicide than anything, its this idea of throwing yourself onto the wheels of demonical machine
the people's mike is a great idea when there is no mike, but when there is one, its just ritualistic and cultish, it also enforces a kind of concision or soundbite mentality that you get on TV
I've been involved in Occupy Oakland and Occupy Berkeley, on demo's, meetings, online etc, I've been in arguments with Black Bloc anarchist types and also faced the ferocity of the police
the police are violent, but at least they are predictable. The Occupiers are amatuers and by the time all the left get on board, it will be completely sunk, and the US will have a Tea Party President 
I think the only hope for this kind of franchise activism is if it is co-opted and taken over my mass, grassroots movements like immigrants & workers who can bring organization and discipline and weed out the agism, sexism, racism inherit in the white-male anarchist core that want democracy for the 99%, but for themselves, only when it suits them>>>>

over here, the amateurs seem quite professional and have some interesting ideas; this past weekend OCCUPY London activists abruptly changed tactics, and following a month of open-air tent protests,  seized a vacant office complex owned by a major global bank.   
named by protesters the "Bank of Ideas," the buildings, near Liverpool Street, were then prepared for their theatrical re-use, and the mise en scène was an inaugural conference of Occupy movements from around the UK this past weekend, and I gathered, they also began to develop some scripts that deal, in the protesting of urban spaces and, here literally, inter-facings, with finances. 
I can't think this further at the minute, in its implication for counter funding (non-reliance on arts funding but invention of other means of repossession), but I just want to suggest that Nicholas' perception  of the "anarchist core" he describes may be a bit narrow.

as to funding the arts, it is not a subject that takes up much space right now, as the future of education and the rising unemployment of young (in their 20s; nearly 1 million in the Uk cannot find jobs) people are considered more pressing concerns. 

with regards
Johannes Birringer
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