[-empyre-] creative powerlessness, expressive violence, performance

PierMartonGmail piermarton at gmail.com
Tue Nov 18 05:19:58 EST 2014

In my eyes, Peter Kassig’s beheading yesterday makes the topic of powerlessness more salient and urgent. The expressions “my heart goes out to… or RIP", as heartfelt as they are, represent easy ways to say something (the phatic function? cf. below)  Speaking of “inhumanity” does the same.
Speaking of the opposite of passivity - which is not powerlessness (was it Jon who brought up “creative powerlessness?) - I would recommend a film I saw yesterday about, Alaa Basatneh, a 19 year old US/Syrian woman who is coordinating the resistance from Chicago: —> http://www.chicagogirlfilm.com/

In response to an earlier post:
Thank you to Reinhold Görling for:

-  stating how slowly the “I” emerges - a vital element to our being able to approach otherness (animals, trees, you name it - those that are not part of our UNIverse)

- bringing up re-enactment (in TRCs, Act of Killing) - pure catharsis.
- quoting Rosselini (“université du vol et de l’assassinat”) - I often speak myself of the “eduCUSHIONal” system

- and that fiery text by Godard that shows how messy it is to try to extirpate ourselves from where we reside.

It will be my time to be “quite direct” - while among the left it is generally accepted that national liberation struggles often take the path of violence to be heard, or as my brother recently wrote: "The only time I´ve found it good to wave a flag is when someone else is stepping on it.”  **
As I consider my grandmother’s death in a gas chamber, it is impossible for me to approach "the language of violence" . Violence and annihilation as languages? My father was involved in the WWII resistance but it happened to be one without standard weapons: he hid a German deserter, made flyers, false papers…
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” - Samuel Johnson - what about weaponry? Are we only working with weapons of the spirit, we the “cultural workers”? By asking these questions, I am only asking for a certain complexity.

And to respond to jon (below), and, as the expression goes, opening a can of worms, while aware of Shannon’s communication model (and having enjoyed teaching Jakobson’s overlapping structure - phatic….), I wonder whether, outside of the sciences, any solid communication ever takes place.
When we say “blue" we mean different things but for the sake of “efficiency” we prefer not to dwell on that. "Nous ne faisons que nous entregloser/We are only cross-referencing ourselves.” Montaigne

**while realizing that I open another can of worms, I wonder about the need for "flags and identity.” 
Thank you,
> From: Reinhold Görling <goerling at phil.hhu.de>
> Date: November 16, 2014 at 3:02:21 PM CST
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] creative powerlessness, expressive violence, performance
> Reply-To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Sorry for being quite direct: but if you refuse to understand violence as communication it will be very difficult to come to a critique of violence. (And you shut your eyes before the possibility that communication can be violence.)
> Reinhold
>> Am 16.11.2014 um 20:37 schrieb simon <swht at clear.net.nz>:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> On 17/11/14 02:52, PierMartonGmail wrote:
>>> the principle “violence as communication” is no help to me.
>>> I can easily interpret everything around me as communication (and I DO listen to trees, mountains, animals, no kidding).
>>> It is good that art takes place in prisons, mental institutions, etc…but empowerment may start with any kind of listening - of paying attention to…
>> yes, equally on this list... however, the 'defeat of impotence' as a remedy for violence is a formula which struck me, and this may simply be the powerlessness to act at all, or to be heard in all the noise.
>> I agree - and so there is communication - 'violence as communication' is no help; albeit that violence has been dressed up as performance in the discussion: however, violence as a form of expression is a different proposition. From the point of expression, expressing an intention, whether natural or anti-, it can acquire qualities of ritual or convention, conferring status or recognition, communicating, representing, and becoming performance or art.
>> Best,
>> Simon

> On Nov 16, 2014, at 5:51 PM, Jonathan Marshall <Jonathan.Marshall at uts.edu.au> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> For what its worth, I would agree that violence is an attempt at communication - at getting a response from others
> One of the problems of communication theory is that people often seem to assume that 'good' or 'succesful' communication is the norm when in fact good communication is a special case of communication, and a relatively rare one at that...
> It might be useful to recognise that communication always involves power, in that it aims at getting a response from others, whether this is agreement, disagreement, getting people to do something, or see the world in a particular way and so on. This is inevitable, and of course a quick way of getting that response would often involve a move into threat or violence. Consequently, there can be an easy spill between attempts to communcate and violence, whether this is because those with relatively high power can't be bothered to persuade, or think their chances of persuasion are small, or because those with relatively lower power are annoyed with being ignored...  or because both are convinced that the other would not listen anyway....
> This does not mean that violence and good communication are the same, or should be rendered equivalent, just that violence and communincation are sometimes likely to blend in particualr contexts.
> jon

In addition to my regular e-mail signature below, this month of November (during my direct involvement with -empyre) I have added a growing list of works that I found to be powerful - even if I question what “power” means.
”The Theater and its Double” by Artaud
"Chechen Lullaby" - Directed by Nino Kirtadze —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEmqHZAn8lQ (also on my website)
"The Man by the Shore/L’Homme sur les Quais" & "Haïti, le Silence des Chiens” —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qbu2HPvFn_E - Directed by Raoul Peck
Los Olvidados Directed by Luis Buñuel
“Is Anyone Taking Any Notice?” by Don McCullin —> http://piermarton.info/don-mccullin/
"Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution" by Peter Kropotkin
"War Against War/Krieg dem Kriege/Guerre à la Guerre! War against War! Oorlog aan den Oorlog" by Ernst Friedrich (recent intro by Doug Kellner) - Various editions. Last one published in Sept. 2014 (available online).
"At the Mind’s Limit" by Jean Améry
“Shoah” -  Directed by Claude Lanzmann
"In the King of Prussia" - Directed by Emile de Antonio
And these quotes: 
“Human stupidity is the only thing that gives an idea of the infinite/La bêtise humaine est la seule chose qui donne une idée de l'infini." Ernest Renan, Dialogues et fragments philosophiques (1876) (others & the Hungarian proverb: “Human stupidity is endless/Az emberi butaság végtelen")
“Shitr… Watch, watch the machine's turnin'. Watch, watch them brains blow up… vanish from my presence/Merdre... Voyez, voyez la machin’ tourner, Voyez, voyez la cervell’ sauter,...disparais de ma présence." Alfred Jarry, Ubu roi (1888)
“. . . only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation be safely built.” - Bertrand Russell, 1923
“If there is still one hellish, truly accursed thing in our time, it is our artistic dallying with forms, instead of being like victims burnt at the stake, signaling through the flames.” Artaud, The Theater and its Double, 1938
PM_uoʇɹɐɯ_ɹǝıd —> http://piermarton.info
School Of No  Media —> http://schoolofnomedia.com/
About —> http://about.me/piermarton 
BrainBleed—> http://brainbleed.wordpress.com/
Before you know what kindness really is – You must lose things... Naomi Shehab Nye 
True reality is always unrealistic. Franz Kafka
If you have come here to help me, then don't waste your time. But if you have come here, because your liberation is bound up with mine, then come, let us join in the struggle together. Australian Aborigine Activists
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Martin Luther King.
When you know nothing, you say a lot. When you know something, there is nothing to say./Tell them that there is nothing to understand. U.G. Krishnamurti
I used to think the mind was the most wonderful organ in the body. Then, I realized who was telling me that. Bertrand Russell
What the eye can perceive isn't worth seeing. St. Exupéry
and "to finish": 
The passionate desire to conclude is one of humanity's most pernicious and sterile manias - Flaubert
A witty saying proves nothing. Voltaire

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