ABSOLUTE MATERIALISM

Heaven’s Gate, Artaud, ‘regenerative slime’.
Part 2 of Gnostic Front, datacide two.

Few self-contained pieces of bad advice can rival self-help legend Sheldon Kopp’s ‘learn to forgive yourself again and again and again and again’. This would not only mean pretending to be guilty of digging whatever pit you happen to fall into, but presuming to say where the responsibility would end. But if guilt is imbecilic, shame is a perpetual motion machine, the hidden motor of Spinoza’s indivisible self-animating substance (and for Marx, apparently ‘a revolutionary sentiment’). For example some cheap piece of evidence, a social encounter, or the sound of your own saliva clicking, provokes ridiculous lamentations, first person phrases which are a cause for shame themselves. Of course these are incompatible with whatever notions usually reconcile you to yourself. Yet the faint verisimilitude that authorizes your small ration of complacency also resounds in these horrible new postures. Their slapstick vulgarity vouches for that of the habits closest to your heart. (Thus there’s nothing more nihilistic than memory as consolation, a desperate refrain of ‘They can’t take that away from me’. Ten floodlit minutes of uneventful terror infallibly interpret the lifetime leading up to them. Cf. Benjamin: ’even the dead’ will not be safe from the enemy if he wins. [Read more →]

Plague in this Town

rosso
Some time in 1997, the Mail on Sunday ran a tragic story. Apparently the Camorra, Naples’equivalent of the Mafia, has made the city too dangerous for English tourists who would like to gaze at its beautiful ruins. Or in other words, the Non Governmental Organization which for a century provided enough security to make heritage backpacking possible has lately adopted methods that tend to destroy passers-by. ‘We defeated the Red Brigades’, wailed the chief of Naples police, ‘but we can’t beat the Camorra because it grows out of the community. The only answer would be to bulldoze all the Camorra areas (i.e. the poorest in the city) and give them somewhere else to live.’ [Read more →]

THE INANIMATE FARMHAND

August Sander
National Portrait Gallery
London, March – June 1997

In London in the first half of 1997, Weimar Germany came back with a discreet vengeance. The trend may not have been strong enough to cut the rope from which the 60’s swing in perpetuity, and we’re still waiting for a new Social-Democratic Freikorps to kickstart ‘Zero Tolerance’. But the last few months have seenDr.Hans Prinzhorn’s ‘Art of the Insane’ (collected 1919-1922) at the Hayward Gallery, George Grosz at the Royal Academy, Marlene Dietrich – the West End musical, and August Sander’s ‘exact’ photography at the National Portrait Gallery. [Read more →]

Gnostic Front – Cultural Studies and Other Suicide Cults

‘It is in Gnosticism, that failed religion of the West, that there appears an experience of time in radical opposition to the Greek and Christian versions…it posits a concept whose spatial model can be represented by a broken line. In this way it strikes directly at what remains unaltered in classical antiquity and Christianity alike: duration, precise and continuous time. The cosmic time of Greek experience is denied by Gnosticism in the name of the world’s absolute estrangement from a god (God is the allòtrios, the supreme other) whose providential work cannot be a matter of preserving cosmic laws, but of breaking them. The impetus towards redemption of Christian linear time is negated because, for the Gnostic, the Resurrection is not something to be awaited in time, to occur in the more or less remote future; it has already happened.
The time of Gnosticism, therefore, is an incoherent and unhomogeneous time, whose truth is in the moment of abrupt interruption, when man, in a sudden act of consciousness, takes possession of his own condition of being resurrected. In keeping with this experience of interrupted time, the Gnostic attitude is profoundly revolutionary: it refuses the past while valuing in it, through an exemplary sense of the present, precisely what was condemned as negative (Cain, Esau, the inhabitants of Sodom), and expecting nothing from the future’.

Giorgio Agamben, Infancy and History

In The Baffler No. 8, Chris Lehman makes an eloquent case against treating this theology of time as anything other than a cultural curio, or at best a melancholy symbol of academic feeble-mindedness. [Read more →]

REFUGEE SUBJECTIVITY – ‘Bare life’ and the Geographical Division of Labour

In the border country
They’ve done it all
We kept watch
As they smashed the wall

Swell Maps, “Border Country” (1980)

While trans-national institutions like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO clear the way for capital to move freely across the globe, European States are barricading their borders as if they expected a foreign army to invade.

In most of continental Europe this means the Schengen agreement, which suspends monitoring of borders between participating countries but gives immigration authorities unprecedented powers of surveillance, search and detention everywhere in the territory, not just at frontiers and ports of entry. Britain, meanwhile, is playing its part with the 1999 asylum Act, quietly pushed through by the Labour government under cover of the ‘anti racist’ Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. (A Home Office Green Paper explicitly links the two initiatives.)
The term ‘asylum seeker’ suddenly replaced ‘refugee’ in media and parliamentary language around the time of last Tory immigration act, finally passed in 1996. Wheras ‘refugee’ implies an active attempt [Read more →]

Pages: Prev 1 2 3