Datacide 17

Down with Childhood and Adulthood

This is a kindergarten they turn us into children and then tell us we must learn to fend for ourselves they diminish us and accuse us of lacking self-esteem they steal our dignity while offering admonitions of our failure to confront reality.
[Michael Moorcock, Mother London]

Adults gave girls a pile of nonsense supported by childlike logic, while at the same time they make our “lord and masters” swallow little balls of science until they choke. For both of us, a ridiculous education.
[Louise Michel, quoted by Anne Boyer]

Man hat uns nicht gefragt / als wir noch kein Gesicht / ob wir leben wollten / oder lieber nicht
(Nobody asked us / when we had no face yet / if we wanted to live / or would rather not)
[Friedrich Holländer, Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte, sung by Marlene Dietrich]

1. A plague on both your playpens

Down with childhood and adulthood: one anathema entails the other, as Shulamith Firestone explained patiently in her famous tract, although her title stops before the ‘and’.
The mother who wants to kill her child for what she has had to sacrifice for it (a common desire) learns to love that same child only when she understands that it is as helpless, as oppressed as she is, and by the same oppressor: then her hate is directed outwards, and ‘motherlove’ is born.1

But why did Firestone fail to spell out from the start that kiddiehood’s demise would take grown-upness with it? Perhaps she thought her essay – or even her book! – might be read all the way to the end. For the sake of those who missed it the first times, then, let us repeat here: repudiation of childhood is not a matter of extending adulthood’s reputed privileges to children (or vice-versa). Each term presupposes and reproduces the other. Both live off the theatre of their pseudo-opposition. [Read more →]

Boris Souvarine: Black October – Ten Years of the Russian Revolution (1927)

“Leninism is the Opium of the International”

Boris Souvarine (1895-1984) was a co-founder of the French Communist Party and activist in the Communist International. He broke from the party in 1924 and became a critical supporter and part of the anti-Stalinist opposition within the international communist movement, observing and analysing the degeneration of the Bolsheviks from a revolutionary force to the political organisation of a new ruling stratum in Soviet Russia. When discussing if and how to address the centenary of the Russian October Revolution in datacide, we came across the text Black October by Souvarine. This text appeared in 1927 in the journal Bulletin Communiste, one of the mouthpieces of the communist opposition in France. This insightful text has, as far as we can see, never been translated into English before. With hindsight it can be judged as too optimistic despite its harsh criticisms of the regime, but the catastrophic developments that turned the Bolshevik takeover into a full fledged counter-revolution had not completely unravelled in 1927. Of course we are aware of the other critiques of Bolshevism coming from both left communist and anarchist circles, some of which are easily available in English. Others are still relatively obscure, especially the critiques from the French, Italian and German dissident Marxist milieus. We are documenting a crucial assessment of a particularly lucid writer for the first time in English here. Illustrations by a.a.a

The tenth anniversary of the October Revolution was a paradoxical celebration with many contradictions that obscured the general meaning of the evolution of the first proletarian state. [Read more →]

Cosey Fanni Tutti: Memoirs of a Woman of Extreme Pleasures (Interview and Book Review)

It was back in 2000 that I conducted the interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti published here, for a piece I was writing for datacide on women making extreme music. As a female pioneer of industrial music dating from her time as a member of Throbbing Gristle to her decades of transgressive performance art, Cosey was an obvious and important artist to include in the article. This interview came at a time when I personally was navigating the London noise scene as a young female artist; when it was mostly men on the stages and in the audiences, and women performers were regularly regarded as novelties, taken less seriously than their male peers and the focus of unsolicited sexual attention. Women were involved, but usually backstage in the organisation of events and labels, and when the female was actively presented – by men and some women – it was often as something sexualised, attention-grabbing, or mired in misogyny. As I researched the issue further, some of the attitudes I uncovered in addition to what I’d directly encountered left me so disheartened that I abandoned the piece, put my head down and focused on my own music.

Now, seventeen years later, with the publication of Cosey’s autobiographical book, Art Sex Music, it is timely that this interview is finally appearing in datacide. There has been progress in redressing the gender imbalance in noise and extreme music, but women remain a small and often undervalued component. In the years since conducting this interview, I have become increasingly convinced that the voices of women working in this area need to be heard above their music; loud and with any distortion most definitely self-applied. This is necessary to encourage more women to make music at the extreme fringe and enable those already involved to emerge from its margins where many still operate. Cosey’s body of work and reflections remain highly relevant and play an important role here, as shared both in this interview and in Art Sex Music, a brief review of which prefaces the transcript. [Read more →]

Unparaphraseable Life – Notes on Third Cinema

“Cinema is magic in the service of dreams”
– Djibril Diop Mambéty

When, back in the 1990s, Félix Guattari coined the phrase Post-Media Era, this was of interest to me in that it seemed to imply a kind of bypassing of the mainstream mass media, or as filmmaker Peter Watkins calls it, the Monoform – a generalized communications format.1
In some ways my musings upon Guattari’s phrase were nothing other than a re-articulation, during the winter years of the mid ‘90s, of the spirit of the underground culture that had arisen in the ‘60s and, to some degree, petered out as the post-punk moment (that had educated many people into a ‘desire to know’) reached a kind of apogee in pop: ‘selling out’ as an ironic pose. This was, in some ways, concomitant to the rise of cultural studies through which even the infiltrative intents of pop subversion were rendered into abstract signs of cultural kudos rather than into propellants of a cultural combativeness. In these depoliticized years of the ‘90s, then, there was, amidst the wider movement of the rave and techno culture, an opening towards a rearticulation of counter culture and, for me, post-media signaled once more the benefits of an independent approach that could not simply become a vehicle for the usual forms of politicization but, as a shared practice and as a mode of relation, could make ‘labour in culture’ the meeting ground for a re-imagining of a politics based upon the reappropriation of both the means of production and the means of expression.
[Read more →]

Specimen July 13th

Story by Dan Hekate

Kate Macmillan had been following Specimen July 13th all week. He fascinated and beguiled her in equal measure. It had been months since she had been this intrigued.

Kate liked to follow people, to capture them unbeknownst. She hoped one day to put on a solo show somewhere in Shoreditch, ‘Waking Life’ it would be called. She had decided long ago there would be no interaction with the subject, that only through a lack of information could she portray an unbiased portrait. As a rule she would only follow her subject, her specimen for a day, for no more than two hours and always in a public space.

This week she had broken almost all of her rules. It was now the 19th; she was crouched behind a wrecked Ford Astra with her zoom lens pointed a hundred metres across an industrial marshland as Specimen July 13th rummaged through a skip.

July 13th’s hair was a bush of grey curls that defied gravity as it arched back from his receding hairline. He wore a mish mash of clothes or what first appeared as such, an old waistcoat, a new rain mac, a long wooly scarf. Although incongruous, the items somehow matched, blending together in a murky array of browns, blacks and dark greens. From afar he could easily be taken for a homeless man but up close it was apparent how cared for the clothes were, not that she had got up close. She had used the zoom. She had been careful, Kate was always careful. [Read more →]

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