[-empyre-] gender war, mythic violence

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Nov 28 05:56:22 EST 2014

dear all

[Alan schreibt]
>>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 others in this country, that's all....

...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, your response is elaborate, and how could I argue with it, on the political/economic levels you mention, and regarding the erosion of civil liberties and of the commonwealth that you fear? I cannot, though my experience living in Houston is very different from yours.  You also mention the violence you personally experienced, being attacked on the street. Your anguish has been a force in this debate, through the month, and I have the greatest respect for the questions you raised and helped to push forward here (and in a sense, we are circling back to a very early post by James Barrett, in which he evokes the "death cult"):

>>[The] statement that "the anguish of political situations that seem out of control" should be interrogated for why these situations seem this way, not for the nature of control and how it can be restored to a prefered status quo. I believe it is the representation of the political situations that is out of control, to the point where the most bloody act now gains the most attention, as if rhetoric was now violence and words the flash of a sharpened blade. All magnified in the echo chanber of an increasingly hierarchical World Wide Web (as in clusters of information centered on powerful producers and organizers)>>

When I asked whether there is something useful in Judith Butlers' discussion of "Frames of War,"  I was thinking of the apocalyptic colors you draw (after the 'flash-point' Ferguson, Missouri),  and I found these colors overwrought in regard to your initial focus, this month, on questions of how we could possible cope with "absolute terror" and annihilation, and ISIS was the starting point of a long debate here on material, and technological and symbolic instruments of war and extreme modalities of violence. 

My question, then, regarded the ways "absolute terror" - if it indeed exists and must not always be compared and relativized, as Rustom has counseled here (and Rustom in his book on 'Terror and Performance' also takes into account the critiques of "our" [in the west, that is] feeling horror and moral repulsion in the face of suicide bombings or beheadings, a critique offered by Talal Asad, "On Suicide Bombing", NY: Columbia Press, 2007) –  recruits us into a certain framing of reality, both its constriction and its interpretation.  Butler speaks of "regulation" -- how reportage on war, how the appearance, the apparition and also how the direct affect of violence within a public sphere regulates you and me, or how it regulates members of society differently, and particular members (Simon spoke of particularities) more than others  ---- yes, we do realize the public sphere (of which Monika, Ana, Aneta, Aristita and Sonja have spoken) has also been, some a large extent, decisively transformed by internet and social media  (and I sensed that Reinhold and Jon also have full sketchbooks of analysis of film and the instrumentalization of violence for the imaginary, for the mythic repertoires). 

Aristita gave us a hopeful and positive account of communal or collective efforts transforming the public sphere, and I wanted to add another example I heard about, regarding communal efforts to re-integrate young people (jihadists) returning from the Middle East where they had volunteered to support the Islamist movement.  

Before I comment on that, I would have liked to hear more from Sonja regarding her comments on gender war?  Furthermore, those of you interested in law and justice systems, it is of course an unnerving field of endeavor to investigate
"accessing Justice in times of terror" --- here is something I saw posed by law student Mayur Suresh:  "In a milieu of fear and uncertainty, on what terms does one speak of justice? Does one look to the law’s protection? ....If the ‘justice system’ is not merely an arbiter of legal meaning and the referee of social conflicts, but rather deeply implicated in engendering these conflicts, what does this mean for our access to justice?"

Johannes Birringer

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