When Will We Leave the 20th Century? An Interview with Kafka’s Ape.
Written into life by Franz Kafka, nowadays the legendary primate has had enough with impersonating humans. Oscar Mole caught up with the hairy recluse.
OM: So what about that famous report you gave to an Academy? Captured on the Gold Coast and imprisoned in a cage, you had been taken to Europe where your only route of escape was to become a walking, talking, spitting, hard-drinking member of the human race.
APE: Recall that when my report was given in 1917, the first world war was raging. Millions of human beings had been coerced into an orgy of killing and proving Homo sapiens to be vastly superior to gorillas and chimps when it comes to mass murder. Even then I felt ambivalent about becoming human.
At the time, I had no other way out, yet I had to come up with one, because I could not go on living without it. That was the point of the report. I was worried that the Academy would not fully understand what I meant by a ‘way out’. I used the phrase in its most ordinary and fullest sense. I deliberately did not say freedom. As I said in the report: ‘freedom is something that men all too often dupe themselves with’.
What I had discovered was that my jailors needed to see me as non-human in order to justify locking me up. They had to believe I was inferior, so my way out was to become their equal. I mimicked my guards, studied their mannerisms and behaviour. How could they keep something locked up that looked and acted just like they did?
I mastered their language. After I was out I was able to move between different roles I encountered in human society with ease. I knew I could go anywhere, do anything, just by impersonating the right person. Even the Academy wanted to let me in.
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“There isn’t enough bile to conjure up the shame and disgrace of all of this, nor the palpable physical revulsion, nor the visceral contempt building, nor the sense of betrayal and rage, nor the literal physical and emotional shattering of people exposed to the growing madness day in and day out.”
Lenin’s Tomb blog, “Crisis in the SWP,” Jan 11, 2013
The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is – or was until recently – widely considered to be Britain’s “largest revolutionary organization”. The party has been rocked by internal dissent and has lost many members. This development was triggered by allegations of sexual abuse against a leading cadre by a young female comrade. The person in question was the national organiser, Martin Smith, who was nicknamed “Comrade Delta” in the communications of the SWP. The party tried to brush the scandal under the carpet. They set up a commission consisting essentially of friends of the accused, who then proceeded to “exonerate” him. After asking the victim questions about her sexual past and her drinking habits, they predictably decided that the rape allegations were unproven. The pretext to handle this mockery of justice by a kangaroo court was that the “bourgeois court system” could not be trusted “to deliver justice.”
Perhaps in a previous age this sham could have worked. But when details of the case were “leaked” online it forced many to take a stand. Numerous blogs were set up and a number of members started to breach party discipline.
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In the year since the last issue of datacide came out there has been continued fallout from the scandal surrounding the activities of the National Socialist Underground terror group and the involvement of the state security forces in the extreme right. Well, at least until about May, which is when the court case against Beate Zschäpe finally started after a few weeks delay. One reason for the delay was that the 50 seats for the press had been allocated, and not a single Turkish newspaper was allowed to report from inside the courtroom. Needless to say, there is considerable interest in the case in Turkey, as most of the victims had Turkish roots. Finally, the seats were rearranged and the trial could start.
There are obvously many open questions: Where did the NSU come from, and how was it possible it was not detected for so many years despite the fact that the state security had paid agents very close to the perpetrators of the killing spree?
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In the first of two parts, the dialectic of noise as both pacifier and intensifier is set against the ongoing transition from vinyl to digital sound carriers.
‘music represents at once the immediate manifestation of impulse and the locus of its taming’ (Adorno; 288)
Vinyl as a format for distributing cutting-edge noise is continuing to decline. Trying to find more than a handful of releases to review for this issue of Datacide made this clear. Preference has always been given at Datacide to reviewing physical sound-carriers, and in particular vinyl, as it offers the best possible reproduction of sound. Noise reveals itself throughout history as having the ability to pacify or stimulate listeners, and therefore the production and distribution medium of noise can be viewed as a site of struggle. How should the move from vinyl to intangible sound carriers be viewed in terms of the potential for intensification?
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In late 2012 HSBC, a large international bank, executed an advertising campaign dubbed “In the future…”. These ads, appearing in business magazines and international airports, featured predictions about technology and economics, and pronouced, “a new world is emerging.” Several of the ads presented HSBC’s accord with ‘green’ technologies, such as one claim that, “In the future, we will all fly organic.” The accompanying image places mushroom gills within an airliner turbine, presenting biofuels as an emerging and profitable investment. Alignment of international banking with alternative energy was always going to require careful analysis, but other components of this ad campaign turn downright disturbing. An image of a fish with a barcode on it proclaims, “In the future, the food chain and the supply chain will merge.”i
Another states, “In the future, nature and technology will work as one,” while depicting a bee with camera lenses for eyes.ii [Read more →]