[-empyre-] on the 'destructive character' (post by Heiner Weidmann)

Ana Valdes agora158 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 28 13:31:32 EST 2014

Sonja I was very moved for your description of rape as an ancient weapon. I am a member of the pacifist group Women in Black and I traveled with them from Belgrade to Tuzla to march with the Srebrenica survivors most of them women many of them raped. I has never seen so much dignity and stoicism as in those women. My friends Women in Black from Belgrade are mostly Serbs but they have done a wonderful job in solidarity and peace and are accepted by the Bosnian women as systers. 

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-------- Mensaje original --------
De: Sonja Leboš <sonjalebos at gmail.com> 
Fecha:27/11/2014  22:54  (GMT-03:00) 
A: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au> 
Asunto: Re: [-empyre-] on the 'destructive character' (post by Heiner	Weidmann) 

So,  a little about my work that wanders in the thoughts of reconceptualization of notion of urban, cultural memory, hybrid cities and media.
What I found very important recently in my work on city and memory is the art of co(m)-memoration. How do we come together and commemorate  collective traumas?
Usually, there is a plastic, even more usually huge plastic errected in space that should substitute for our loss.

Therefore I studied a little a fantastic architect, Bogdan Bogdanović. 
(The link on the catalogue of the exhibition is here:
and the initial Mnemosyne publication is here

He talks about anthropology of remembrance. Also, he knew that already Roman people, in their decadence, started to deviate the human relation to nature  -so he talks about Etruscan urban agglomerations as the least form of dialogue between human beings and their environment.
He was a master of that kind of monumental plastic, - however there was sth in those monuments of the socialist Yugoslavia - they commemorated resistance and human dignity.
However, Bogdanović transcended the concept of socialism, and dug deeper in the extremely complex structure of collective trauma.

So he built in stone - for the eternity.
I would again remind of what I think is the problem of the civilization embedded in these Roman and Greek concepts of culture: ceasing the moment, grabbing the present, losing the touch with eternal.

Benjamin was right also about one very important thing for our discussion: the close connection between media (film at the time that has evolved in so much more, including telematic performance) and military. The technological link is so strong, that it is impossible to think the devices that enable using media and sophisticated devices for the destruction of Other (and Self).

About gender war: the 90's in Balkan brought to the fore the enormous power of the ancient weapon of war -  the rape. The scope of using the penetration and fertilization of the body of the woman, using the woman as the plain womb for placing the seed of hatred - that is so tragic that one should think of a new language of drama to express it.
At the same time similar was going on Ruanda. 
And then the UN acknowledged that the act of rape is the act of the war crime.
And here, with that word: I would like to stop.
Put it under the magnifying glass of the tool that Johannes dislikes - etimology.
[1150–1200; Middle English werre < Old Norse verri worse]

The Act of Worsening the Self to the point of mutilation and, ultimately - Death.
Death - the biggest and the most dangerous trap of our civilization.
Everybody is so afraid of it.
There were times when cemeteries were within the cities. Than they were banned from the core of the urban to the periphery.
Fear of Death is what moves the Earth.
And that is worse, much worse than Death.

Re-member Agamben's musulman? 
the man not dead but not alive either?
non-human, denied by ueber-mensch

Sonja Leboš

2014-11-27 22:38 GMT+01:00 Johannes Birringer <Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk>:
----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

[relayed from Heiner Weidmann, who was our guest in Week 2 but could not write
as he felt like withdrawing, or as Erik had intimated, prefering the 'stillness of listening/self-absenting']

ich habe mir überlegt, dass benjamins "destruktiver charakter" doch sehr
zentral ist. es ist so was wie ein gegenmodell gegen die "aura": dieser
mythos ist ja so offensichtlich nostalgisch und antirational, dass er
eben nicht - wie man es benjamin gern unterstellt - ein festzuhaltendes
ideal darstellt, sondern im gegenteil, etwas, mit dem aufgeräumt werden
muss. aufräumen damit - und es festhalten in einer paradox gegenteiligen
form: das war eben die hoffnung, die benjamin in die radikale moderne setzt.
die moderne architektur zerstört, zerbricht die innenräume und stülpt
sie nach aussen, und es ist doch arbeit (nur keine "schöpferische"), es
ist doch produktiv.

der destruktive charakter ist natürlich das gegenteil des sammlers (und
das ist benjamin vor allem gewesen, auch wenn "der destruktive
charakter" ein selbstportrait ist), und ich denke, dass haben wir doch
auch schon erlebt: nicht nur den reiz des sammelns und sich einbauens,
sondern auch den reiz des wegschmeissens, der uns beim umziehen und
räumen wie ein furor, wie eine reinigende begeisterung überkommen kann.

heiner weidmann

[translation, jb]

i was thinking that benjamins "destructive character" might be
an idea going to the core. it's kind of an anti-model, against the "aura" (discussed
in the “work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility” essay), aura being
a myth that is so obviously nostalgic and anti-rational, that it is precisely
not - as some would accuse Benjamin - a sustainable ideal, but on the contrary
something that has to be done away with, must be cleaned out - and held in a
paradoxical, opposite form: that was just the hope that benjamin placed in the
radical modernity.   modern architecture destroys, breaks the interiors and turns
them inside out, outwards, and it is still destructive labor  (just not "creative"),
but yet it is productive.

the destructive character is of course the inverse of the collector (and
that is what benjamin was above all, even if "the destructive
character " is a self-portrait ), and i think we have perhaps all
experienced that: not only the charm of collecting and propping ourselves up,
but also the charm of throwing away, of destroying, which may overcome us,
when we move or clean up, like a  furor, like a a cleansing ecstasy.

+   +    +

empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au

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