[-empyre-] gender war, mythic violence

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu Nov 27 07:15:51 EST 2014

On Wed, 26 Nov 2014, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> of the within/without non-issue. The violence of war is within-without; 
> and Alan, I venture to say, you were "recruited" the last few days by 
> the cameras and technological instruments of war (as I pointed out in my 
> paraphrase of Judith Butler yesterday), you were 'constituted' by them.

Hi Johannes,

To respond to this, perhaps a misrecognition that is difficult to explain 
- it's not the 24 hours a day cameras-on-Ferguson (which you mentioned to 
me personally); it's the deterioration of life here and the increasing 
violence in this city (Providence, RI), coupled with the erosion of civil 
liberties across the United States. Ferguson was a flash-point, but was 
not the recruitment; the recruitment was, for me at least, literally 
signing up with a number of conservation organizations, then watching 
legislation fall apart, animal and plant extinctions rising horrendously. 
Ferguson was all too familiar, and it resonated with the slow burn, the 
slow war against Blacks and Latinos and otheres in this country, that's 
all. We're not in New York, where one can pretend to a certain immunity of 
affect/effect; Providence is not the same sort of liberal bubble, in spite 
of Roger Williams' legacy. And what we see here are shootings, knivings, 
arson, as a daily occurrence; the homeless increasing and increasingly 
desperate; graft at all levels; and the state plundering itself from 
decrepit and unreachable power, in spite of the fact that almost all the 
offices are held by Democrats. Providence is the ninth-most economically 
(read racially as well) divided city in the country - the rest, except for 
one in Ohio, are all in the south. So when you mention "contituted by 
them" - not only this isn't true, but it's a misreading perhaps of the 
U.S. itself; would you say that Romania is constituted by the media? That 
pain and intractable poverty elsewhere are? The U.S. is no different in 
this regard; large parts of it, Rhode Island included (with the second 
worst employment record in the country) is closer to the mythic and 
stereotyped "third world country," than it is to the dream of a mythic 
U.S. from so long ago. That's what creates a sense of despair, derailing 
here, for so many (lots of people leave; this is the state with the 
highest percentage of people in the country trying to get out), and what 
was so perturbing about Ferguson, is that, like Occupy (as people have 
pointed out), there's no real clout in the protests, no political action.
I keep thinking how far this is from the brutality elsewhere, but then I 
remember being violently kicked a year and a half ago in NY (ironically on 
the way to the doctor's), calling the police - we had witnesses, license 
plates, etc. - and the police told me if I tried to prosecute, to have the 
perpetrator arrested, I might be arrested myself for disturbing the peace. 
Later it came out that the NYC police were ordered to ignore most crimes 
of this sort, unless killing or hospitalization was required - the cops 
were trying to keep the stats down. So there you are, and the NYC cops are 
behaving as badly as ever, under the new mayor, and this country, for all 
its military power and swashbuckling and back-room international deals, 
operates on the principle of endocolonization, keeping the uppity poor and 
disenfranchised under control, making a massacre of the medial system for 
them, so they'll quietly die away. _That's_ what has recruited me, not 
CNN. -

- Alan

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