[-empyre-] Assyrian resonance

Erik Ehn shadowtackle at sbcglobal.net
Sat Nov 8 01:18:21 EST 2014

closing out the week... 

recently adapted mother courage, and closed it with a short play (below); i'm interested in the permission to despair... not to a vanishing point, but to suspend in the midst of intractable difficulty. this suspension can model ascension? *sustained* despair is an aspect of peace (which is a viable, daily tension)?

(An old woman on a bus. A sparrow.)
Her happy memories.
She is a ghost because the story is lost. The heat.
The space.
The silence, which is light. Woman on bus. Her dead child. A
ghost, lost. Blames you. Prays.
To see only you, to be forgiven, to know only darkness, the
And in prayer, bringing to flower her happy memories, letting
her memories go as she has them, happiness go, one at a time. Thin.
With Alison’s autistic son.
A bus of women.
Running. Even in the rain.
Letting them go. What they each have in common is they’ve
all lost a child.
Bicycling with my brother from movie to movie.
Women on the bus disappearing one at a time; she doesn’t
forgive them either.
Second time married, confirmation of vows. Priest. Eye to
eye under X.
May, let…
Texas where family brought to be less than human, to affirm
the human in whiteness.
Starts winking out.
Connections between this book and that book, the spiderweb
world of text.
Optional loss of reading; thick glasses, no glasses. Bus
moving through riots. Tear gas.
All creation depends on her.
Snow on Halloween.
Lives in and through her, in her love.
She has stopped her love. Drills and hammers. The guns of
the troopers. Withdraws from the field, a Fergus. Bus gasps, dispels, beats at
a stop.
WOMAN (Looking out window.)
Raven left.
Everyone gone in the world, having let happiness and all
creation go, there is a raven left. Creation depends on her attention and she,
on the bus, letting –
(Bus starts up.)
Jungle gym.
Tree is gone; raven no place to light. Jungle gym =
temptation, climbing the complexities of her mind, out of memories, living the
energy of memory with no savor of things remembered.
Raven steals hat.
I steal the woman’s hat. Stops thinking. Raven and hat
disappear. Hypostasis. Invisible raven.
Learning to pray in hospital rooms, under coal-to-diamond
pressure. Blue rug, brown curtain.
Life = cross = instrument of forgiveness.
And her son is dead. The return of the world is up to her. Raven
The End

On Thursday, November 6, 2014 8:45 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

It's disturbing that the same patterns repeat over and over again, that 
they're successful, that the violence is a useless violence, that 
everything is so unbearably fragile. We just had elections here, and I 
sense the violence there as well: "Boehner says Obama playing with matches 
if he acts on immigration without ..." and so forth, not to mention guns 
and the NRA.

Erik, you say "performance, on the other hand, strives to humanize the 
individual" - but I doubt this; I don't think that performance strives, 
people strive, and they can strive, perform, in any number of ways. If one 
believes in the religious ideology of ISIS, then, I assume, the beheadings 
feel necessary and proper, that they send the proper message, that they 
are enactments designed to create certain emotions in their audience - in 
short, that they are a theater of the real, degree zero. -

- Alan

On Thu, 6 Nov 2014, Ana Vald?s wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I translated from Swedish to Spanish the testimony of a young
> indigenous peasant from Guatemala, she walked from her village to the
> nearby village to borrow some corn. The villages were in the
> Cuchumatanes mountains, the border between Mexico and Guatemala, old
> Mayan lands. She spoke Chuj, a language spoken by 40000 ppl. She was
> going home from the village she visited and she saw some choppers
> landing at the main square. She hided from sight inside a pyramide in
> the square and from the eyes of pyramide, which was modelled as a
> face, she saw the soldiers gather all the people at the village,
> roughly 300 persons, and starting to kill them. The women were first
> raped and beaten, their small toddlers were killed and beheaded with
> machetes, the elderly and the women and the kids were put in a big
> barn and the soldiers lighted the barn with all the people inside.
> They were burned alive.
> The men were killed with machetes and guns. The killing took the whole
> day. The girl waited until it was dark and the soldiers were drunk and
> feasting, she ran to her village and warned them the soldiers were
> going for them.
> In her village, Chalambochoj, lived three or fourhundred people. All
> of them fled during the night, carrying the little they could bring,
> the kids, some blankets, some corn, some animals. At down they crossed
> the border and sought refuge in Mexico, almost one million indigenous
> from Guatemala lived several years in Mexico waiting for the peace
> agreements between the amy and the gerilla.
> The army tactic was called the "fish and the water tactic". To hinder
> the indigenous to give food or shelter to the gerilla they used the
> tactic to kill all the indigenous they found and to destroy the
> villages. The fish, the gerilla, could not survive without water, the
> indigenous acted as the water to the fish, from it the gerilla took
> their nutrients.
> It was called the massacre
> It happened in the nineties, far more recently than in Sargon's time.
> Ana
> On Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 8:04 PM, Erik Ehn <shadowtackle at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space---------------------- museveni is 
>> known for exerting crowd control by "just killing one or two people" as 
>> a ugandan friend pointed out to me. wade into a crowd, kill a couple of 
>> folks, and everybody quiets down or disperses. this doesn't always 
>> work, but seems to have worked for him in a number of cases... 
>> spectacular, specific disasters, broadly instrumental. genocide works 
>> to alter the world's relationship to history - stops history for an 
>> anti-dramatic period of rest (or a period of concentrating wealth, 
>> disguised as rest, as peace, as utopia). so the scale is larger but the 
>> principle is similar - kill a minority, spectacularly, and the 
>> will-to-change disperses or submits.
>> performance, on the other hand, strives to humanize the individual, 
>> meaning - moves out from the individual to the plural public - plural 
>> to the point where the constitution of audience (witnesses, listeners) 
>> is a dramatic act itself, meaning - that audience/artists are 
>> co-creators of a collective noun - moving from person to persons, a 
>> human to human(e).
>> walk out into a crowd and cause a couple of people to listen to each 
>> other, and you are reversing the polarity of genocide. only a polarity 
>> - a magnetic trace...
>> but the only real (sustainable) antidote to genocide that i have ever 
>> been able to imagine involves the stillness of 
>> listening/self-absenting, versus the stillness of what strejilevich 
>> calls the single, numberless death.
>> On Thursday, November 6, 2014 3:52 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> (I sent this to nettime when I started thinking about the
>> history of the region; I have a number of texts and books
>> from the late Armand Schwerner, who worked with the
>> material. I've also been interested in semitic languages
>> and the history of the early Mid-East. Anyway nettime
>> refused to present this, calling it 'bog-standard' and
>> implying the whole area was like this. I beg to disagree;
>> in any case, here might be something to consider, or it
>> might be something that's a dead-end.)
>> The Assyrians publicized their atrocities in reports and
>> illustrations for propaganda purposes. In the tenth and ninth
>> centuries BCE, official inscriptions told of cruelty to those
>> captured. Most were killed or blinded; others were impaled on
>> stakes around city walls as a warning. The bodies were
>> mutilated; heads, hands, and even lower lips were cut off so
>> that counting the dead would be easier. These horrifying
>> illustrations, texts, and reliefs were designed to frighten the
>> population into submission.
>> [...] When surrounding the capital city and shouting to the
>> people inside failed, the Assyrians' next tactic was to select
>> one or more small cities to attack, usually ones that could be
>> easily conquered. Then the Assyrians committed extreme acts of
>> cruelty to show how the entire region would be treated if the
>> inhabitants refused to surrender peacefully. Houses were looted
>> and burned to the round, and the people were murdered, raped,
>> mutilated, or enslaved - acts all vividly portrayed in the
>> Assyrian stone reliefs and royal inscriptions in the palaces.
>> The Assyrian troops regarded looting and rape of a conquered
>> city as partial compensation. [...]
>> The annals of Assurnasirpal II vividly described such tactics:
>> "In strife and conflict I besieged (and) conquered the city. I
>> felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword. I carried off
>> prisoners, possessions, oxen, (and) cattle from them. I burnt
>> many captives from them. I captured many troops alive: I cut off
>> of some their arms (and) hands; I cut off of others their noses,
>> ears, (and) extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I
>> made one pile of the living (and) one of the heads. I hung their
>> heads on tress around the city. I burnt their adolescent boys
>> (and) girls. I razed, destroyed, burned (and) consumed the
>> city."
>> This type of "psychological" warfare was especially convincing,
>> and the inhabitants, "overwhelmed by the fearful splendor of the
>> god Assur," surrendered.
>> ----
>> From Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat,
>> Hendrickson, 2008
>> ===================================
>> Sargon, the ruler of Bel, the priest of Asur, the darling of
>> Anu and Bel, the mighty king, king of hosts, king of Assyria,
>> king of the four quarters, the beloved of the great gods
>> and the mention of his name caused to go forth for the greatest
>> deeds, the mighty hero girt with terror, who for the overthrow
>> of the enemy sendeth forth is arms, the valiant warrior,
>> forgot and trusted in his own strength. Against the kings and
>> governors whom in Egypt had installed the father who begat me,
>> to slay, to plunder, and to seize Egypt he marched., Against
>> them he went in
>> city which the father who begat me had conquered and to the
>> border of Assyria had annexed.
>> I summoned my supreme forces with which Asur and Istar had filled
>> my ends
>> the way ...
>> he summoned his fighting men, With the might of Asur, Istar, and
>> the great gods, my lords, who go at my side, in the battle on the
>> broad plain I accomplished the overthrow of his forces.
>> heard the defeat of his forces.
>> That city I took; my troops I caused to enter and I stationed
>> them therein. had conquered
>> fortified cities, I captured. Their forces in numbers I slew;
>> their spoil, their possessions, and their cattle I carried off.
>> Their soldiers escaped and occupied a steep mountain
>> Of a vulture within the mountain had they set their stronghold,
>> In three days the warrior overcame the mountain
>> he cast down the mountain, he destroyed their nest, their host
>> He shattered, Two hundred of their fighting men I slew with the
>> sword; their heavy booty like a flock of sheep I carried off;
>> with their blood I dyed the mountain like crimson wool
>> their cities I overthrew, I destroyed I burned with fire.
>> they came to make war against me. I fought them and defeated
>> them. Their warriors I overthrew with the sword, like Ramman I
>> rained a deluge upon them, into trenches I heaped them, with the
>> corpses of their mighty men I filled the broad plain, with the
>> blood I dyed the mountain like scarlet wool.
>> The team of his yoke I took from him, a pile of heads over
>> against his city I set, his cities I overthrew, I destroyed, I
>> burnt with fire.
>> mile and female musicians, the whole of his craftsmen, as many
>> as there were, and the officers of the palace I brought out and
>> as spoil I reckoned.
>> I besieged, I captured, I carried off their spoil.
>> The walls of that temple had fallen in ruins. I was anxious, I
>> was afraid, I was distressed and my countenance was troubled.
>> (tablet translations)
>> =================================================================
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