[-empyre-] ethicopoetics of sight, in the fog

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Thu Mar 30 07:14:39 AEDT 2017

dear all

a few small questions:
William Bain mentioned a MicroTheatre ("The Other Side"), when Simon Taylor and I talked about a theatre of resistance and what that might be.  I can't find such a MicroTheatre (there is a festival in Newcastle carrying that name), the only other reference i could find was to Spanish theatre maker Miguel Alcantud, a project carried out in an abandoned brothel situated in one of the Gran Via’s side streets...?   can you clarify.

When I first asked about Sanctuary Cities, Alan Sondheim and Jon McKenzie replied. There was a phrase that stuck in my mind, Jon used it – "philosophy of the refugee", a project? 

And now, Alan, you reference military activities in Iraq and the commanders that were questions about civilian deaths (does not the military call these deaths 'collateral damage"?). In your response to Brian Holmes you
affirm that a new ethicopoetics would be good, but you then offer the insight:

I do wonder if it would make any difference. All these analyses! (Mine, too, on "semiotic 
splatter.") We feel we understand what's occurring, we constantly come up 
with scenarios, alternative solutoins, but it makes no difference to those 
in power. What they do understand is violence (military, environmental, 
etc.) and its employment/dissemination.

I asked myself this too; many times; today I listening to a political scientist who seems to be on to something, research wise: Immunity (politics of immunity) and its relation to Security (military power, control), looking at auto-immune disease (in a medical but political sense) through a critical lense, namely tracing how power and occupation – as we can observe in many regions now – lead to the decline of civilian immunity in warfare; (this is directly I think related to the attack in Mosul you comment on, Alan).
I pondered how thoughtfully this colleague explained his book project, refering also to Espositio, Agamben, Sloterdijk, and Derrida. Philosophers of immunulogy and the refugee, the bare lives?
Yes, what indeed does it make a difference for. Well, for us here, in this pale shadowland, it serves to discuss and analyze; I have nothing to offer though.

Instead, i mention something I witnessed on the weekend, inside and outside one of the museums here, where I went to see a concert by an old friend, Phill Niblock, who has been performing for 50 years or more, and I listened for 150 minutes to his deep drone music, the instrumentalists, and the films he shot in 1970 ("Environments III and IV"), and I venture that like you Alan, writing poetry every day, and like everyone else here, the music and the performance created a powerful energy transfer amongst us all, very clearly not just a resistance to fear or despondency, but also an acknowledgement that we can move between the somewheres and anywheres (this is a nod at "The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics," by D. Goodhart), we can negotiate; performance is also direct action. 

The night previous to Niblock, there was an outdoor dance on the south terrace of the Tate Modern (I attach a photo, given to me by Claudia Robles). A pioneer of installation and video art in Japan, Fujiko Nakaya had come to create an amazing fog sculpture, generated out of water mist. The fog sculpture acts as a barometer, reading shifts in atmospheric conditions, reacting to the environment and rendering it visible and palpable to viewers. The fog was further animated  by a light-and-sound-scape by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Shiro Takatani. And then, from nowhere, suddenly Min Tanaka, the butoh master, appeared and danced into the fog. Already in 1974 Tanaka had developed a unique style known as “hyper-dance” which emphasizes the psycho-physical unity of the body, and he tends to enact improvisational performances that abandon the stage in favor of parks, streets, seashores, and fields in Japan & abroad; in the 1980s, Tanaka secretly infiltrated the former Soviet Union countries to perform as an act of rebellion. 

 A Chilean dancer friend who watched the happening told me yesterday: "yes, like an appearing and disappearing ghost indeed; so beautiful, so beautiful; his dance tells me also this kind of complete surrounding  to the world that pushes around us, sometimes I felt his own disappointment for the world created by humans, with hopeless love. He is extraordinary really, just a huge amount of energy and the inspiration to keep working regardless of everything, age, time, struggle, cold, hot, everything and anything."  Then she added that she traveled home, and "I danced a little solo on Sunday here in Oxford, my way to say thank you to him in the silent distant."

I wanted to share this with you all

Johannes Birringer

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