[-empyre-] the Ituri among elsewhere

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Fri Nov 21 19:33:23 EST 2014

I've heard this as well from other sources,

"Reports of genocide

The BBC in 2004 reported that

     In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the 
UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the Congo Civil War, his people 
were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In 
neighbouring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group 
known as Les Effaceurs ("the erasers") who wanted to clear the land of 
people to open it up for mineral exploitation.[21] Both sides of the war 
regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical 
powers.[22] Makelo asked the UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism 
as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide.[23]

According to Minority Rights Group International there is extensive 
evidence of mass killings, cannibalism and rape of Pygmies and they have 
urged the International Criminal Court to investigate a campaign of 
extermination against pygmies. Although they have been targeted by 
virtually all the armed groups, much of the violence against Pygmies is 
attributed to the rebel group, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, 
which is part of the transitional government and still controls much of 
the north, and their allies.[24]

The Pygmy population was also a target of the Interahamwe during the 1994 
Rwandan Genocide. Of the 30,000 Pygmies in Rwanda, an estimated 10,000 
were killed and another 10,000 were displaced. They have been described as 
"forgotten victims" of the genocide.[25] The current Rwandan Pygmy 
population is about 33,000, and is reportedly declining.[26]

By one estimate, the total number of Pygmies killed in the civil wars in 
Congo and Rwanda is 70,000.[25]

In the Republic of Congo, where Pygmies make up 2% of the population, many 
Pygmies live as slaves to Bantu masters. The nation is deeply stratified 
between these two major ethnic groups. The Pygmy slaves belong from birth 
to their Bantu masters in a relationship that the Bantus call a 
time-honored tradition. Even though the Pygmies are responsible for much 
of the hunting, fishing and manual labor in jungle villages, Pygmies and 
Bantus alike say Pygmies are often paid at the master's whim; in 
cigarettes, used clothing, or even nothing at all. As a result of pressure 
from UNICEF and human-rights activists, a law that would grant special 
protections to the Pygmy people is awaiting a vote by the Congo 
parliament.[27][28]" (Wikipedia)

- And I do not see where art comes into play, I am sorry to keep hammering 
on this, like a broken record (ruined mp3 file).

Except that the music of this area is something I have listened to, at 
times polyphonic, amazing, and I am reminded of music at Auschwitz for 
example, or the work of Valeska Gert, which has always haunted me.

I tend towards a nihilism rooted in an earth blood-soaked without memory.
I have just given, at Pratt here in Brooklyn, a three-hour talk on my 
work, on empyre, on the state of the world; I've shown my videos from 
virtual worlds, read texts, and unlike the Hebrew song, not only is it 
never enough, it seems meaningless, erased of meaning, in the face of 
disaster; it's as if I were reading through broken glass. What if words 
were holy, if the substitution of one word for enough, a right word for a 
wrong, could turn these events around, cauterize the source of genocide 
itself? We all describe our work here, and darkness closes everything 
down; one cannot read without light, and the force of chanting recedes.

I found, when I was thinking of the topic for empyre this month, I had 
written this:

"Facing, what?

If we face evil, comprehend it, examine it, watch those videos, does that 
reduce us to catatonia? Does that empower us to act? Does it reduce us to 
fear and trembling, to terror?

It's not enough to say, this is the way the world has always been; the 
world, now, is not as it has always been.

Or is it enough to insist on the long lens, reach, of history, to insist 
that the past itself will teach us, that we can learn from it's - our - 

Another approach - this has nothing to do with us; this is the work of a 
miniscule number of people; this is the work of the made, the depraved, 
criminals; this is the work of the lost; of the disenfranchised; of this 
or that group. But is this not also our group, isn't there, yet, the shade 
of Adolf Eichmann, the normalcy of evil? Then what is this?

Or this is for or against or the result of, neoliberalism - but this has 
always been with us, this resides within us, this defines us, at least a 
part of us.

Or that this is the result of social media, of technologies that spread 
everything everywhere, this is the result of the disseminated messenger. 
But social media, oral histories, ballads, newspapers, tablets, rumor, 
gossip, languagings, have also always been with us.

Or that ethology plays a role, sociobiology, that this is part of our 
primate heritage, that we may or may not overcome. Yes, and then what?

At the heart of all of this - absolute violence and anguish, textual and 
oral inerrancies, symbolic acts and always totalization, the violence 
inherent in language and its recoding of histories.

At the heart of _all_ of this, death, and the erasure of death."

I'm no closer to an answer than before, I work against explanation of any 
sort in my own work, and I come up, as I believe we all come up, at a 
loss, still, in the face of catastrophe.


"The seven-minute film, released on Wednesday by Al Hayat Media Center, an 
affiliate of the Islamic State, also shows what appear to be French 
jihadist fighters burning their French passports. The video appears to be 
part of an intensifying propaganda effort by the Islamic State, also known 
as ISIS or ISIL, to use foreign fighters to recruit members and to 
encourage the spread of violence." "CNN) -- A vehicle explodes. Two trucks 
full of armed men race closer to the resulting crater at the Karm 
el-Kawadees army camp in North Sinai. The black-clad militants chase the 
survivors, killing all the soldiers. All of it is captured on video. At 
least 31 Egyptian soldiers were killed in the October attack, the 
deadliest to date committed by the Sinai-based militant group Ansar Beit 
al-Maqdis (Champions of Jerusalem). ABM militants released video of the 
ambush in mid-November -- just days after pledging allegiance to ISIS, the 
Islamic terror group that now controls large parts of Syria and Iraq." " 
The US Military Just Released New Videos Of Its Airstrikes Against ISIS. 
The US military released new footage on Thursday of its airstrikes against 
the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). The US 
Military Central Command published five videos in total and described the 
strikes, which took place Wednesday, as against a building, two tunnels, 
and two bunkers in Iraq. 'The strikes were conducted as part of Inherent 
Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the 
threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international 
community," CENTCOM said in a statement. "The destruction of ISIL targets 
in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project 
power and conduct operations.'"

More part, more performance, more video, this is just ISIS, we await 
Ferguson. I have been thinking recently of the idea of background 
performance, that of violence and hatred in the world, always on the rim 
of consciousness, and now a second background performance, that of the 
_internet of things_ as dull sentience creeps across parts of the world, 
always the possibility of reporting. The two backgrounds come together of 
course in social media, they're always on, always performing, and now 
cyberwar and its consequences come to the foreground in a stunning graphic 
- http://map.ipviking.com/ (the majority of attacks now on St Louis).

All these performances, what of them? Who are we among them? Who am I?

And what of Ferguson?

More information about the empyre mailing list