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If you string together a set of speeches expressive of character, and well finished in point and diction and thought, you will not produce the essential tragic effect nearly so well as with a play which, however deficient in these respects, yet has a plot and artistically constructed incidents.
(Aristotle, Poetics, 335 BCE)
I even gave up, for a while, stopping by the window of the room to look out at the lights and deep illuminated streets. That’s a form of dying, that losing contact with the city like that.
(Philip K. Dick, We Can Build You, 1972)
The river twists and turns to face the city. It looms suddenly, massive, stamped on the landscape. Its light wells up around the surrounds, the rock hills, like bruiseblood.
Its dirty towers glow. I am debased. I am compelled to worship this extraordinary presence that has silted into existence at the conjunction of two rivers. It is a vast pollutant, a stench, a klaxon sounding. Fat chimneys retch dirt into the sky even now in the deep night. It is not the current which pulls us but the city itself, its weight sucks us in. Faint shouts, here and there the calls of beasts, the obscene clash and pounding from the factories as huge machines rut. Railways trace urban anatomy like protruding veins. Red brick and dark walls, squat churches like troglodytic things, ragged awnings flickering, cobbled mazes in the old town, culs-de-sac, sewers riddling the earth like secular sepulchres, a new landscape of wasteground, crushed stone, libraries fat with forgotten volumes, old hospitals, towerblocks, ships and metal claws that lift cargoes from the water.
How could we not see this approaching? What trick of topography is this, that lets the sprawling monster hide behind corners to leap out at the traveller?
It is too late to flee.
(China Mieville, Perdido Street Station, 2000)
The Wall Street you’re mad at doesn’t exist anymore.
(Bill Clinton, 2008)
Existing critiques copied from one another, all those spaces we’ve heard of but have never been, waiting for others to tell us what it was all about, so we can proceed to breakaway, like snakes set free in a looted pet store. We have been handed a bomb as if it was a gift, and then criticized for deciding where to place it, whether we were on stack, if the facilitator heard us, if the note taker documented our proposal, if we exceeded our minutes, what our vibes were like, if the proper committee knew, if we’d reached consensus, strawpolldirectresponsebikeracktablepointofinformationincoherentrant, what I am about to say has nothing to do with what has come before…
1. A riot cannot have an interpretation, it is itself a language. No, a gesture: the communication of communicability; becoming language.
2. The text will function as a terrorist network: exclusionary, flexible, accessible, legible, illegible, mute.
This is The Year Of The Flood, of the symptomatic nihilism of the passive subject, of the umbilical cord that we’ve been dragging with us for what seems like forever, dirty and ragged, caked with dry blood, the anti of capitalism. We are ready to accept the end of Capital, but only if we get to keep the cord.
Event is the cut. Subject is the cry.
6. The political is a language, performed as it always will be.
14. The gesture starts to become a language. The language is flexible, mutable. It is not a language. It is only language when it is performed back.
The shock we experience when faced with this impossibility of engagement, within these forms, all of them, inside and outside, among all the communications and confusions we have been unable to break away from. All the more painful with the simultaneous impossibility of flight, refusal, disengagement, from a magazine based in another city, another coast, another country, to which we’ve never subscribed. Responsibilities are passed on and to from afar, tactically, ideologically, socially, emotionally, this distance felt from those sitting next to us, across from us, against us, disoriented because we realize from the beginning that we are the infiltrators, policing everything around us.
17. Interpretation through performance. Performance, response.
I am Nothing, I am the Ash and the Void. The ash is the human strike, the void is the act. End to the masturbatory Desire for apocalypse, end to the paralyzing self hysteria of the impossibility of an Act. Nothing was ever possible, so the Nothing will be again! The Void must rise from the Ashes, that is the political Act, that is the Subject of the Now. Don’t wait for an ultimate cleansing field, the restoration to an authentic Real. The Real is the Act, the Real is the antagonistic torsion between us. With or without the Subject we still imagine the end of the world as some sort of natures retort to all that is solid. We idealize desire as fundamental chaos, but the word “fundamental” plays an important role here, since in this fundamentality we frame the chaos of desire within the limit of itself. As if the desiring subject is the ultimate order upon its own chaos. With this fundamentalization of chaos we define the Subject’s anthology as a limited realm; If we consider being a presentation (“what presents itself is essentially one”), then following that logic, the chaotic Desiring Subject must essentially be its characterization, its real. At this point in the process, the Subject is conditioned by its totality, or its Oneness. But how can we so blindly ignore the deadlock that this thought brings before us; If the Subject is equated with Oneness, then that must certainly cancel out its potential of becoming more than it is, and consequently, if Subject is ceased to be more than it is as we know it, then the idea of apocalypse and the Human Strike certainly might seem impossible to imagine. The apocalypse in the case of the total Subject takes a fictional character. It becomes an implausible problem. Implausible in that we can easily fictionalize, but can’t truly fathom it happening. If Human is totality, then its Strike is so easily envisaged, because in reality, unconsciously we simply cannot permit it. We dwell in the perpetual impossibility of the apocalypse and the Human Strike.
16. Instead we subjectivize ourselves; a subjectivity constantly shifting, taking new forms of language.
Our dwellings are primitive caves, stalactites of thought hang precariously, awaiting the fall of one means the implosion of the rest, eventually. Awaiting on the cue of conformity, it eventually comes in strict fashion. Organic cotton and fair trades, empirical fabrics excluded from the stitching. A bigger picture painted with denser brushes. The horizon is endless and our vision is krazy-glued on the finality, of the sunset.
Because we have had no other choice than to reject all those introduced to us as artists we have forgotten that those willingly introduced as political are far more horrifying and dangerous. The structureless organizations in which only a certain few, in all their manipulations, know the true structure; the transparent invisible hierarchies in which only a certain few know the roles that need to be taken on, and at what point, and with what phrasings; the immediately apparent implicit limitations placed on our experiments, as if every idea that clumsily comes out of our mouths is now a proposal to be voted on by an organization we never joined, with people we never loved. And we listen.
10. Every tool is an extension of a preexisting relation, a gesture.
11. Every tool employed simultaneously extends the gesture, the practice of life, the performance of language, the relation.
“There is only the carcass.”
The situation is worse than they imagine. This is structuralism. The umbilical cord would not even be visible without the intervention of a subject faithful to the event. An event raises the void and opens a possible space, a space of subjective fidelity. We need a subjective process which does not merely affirm the effects of the outside, or the structure, within, but provides a way of disqualifying the old inside the new by a process of contamination, a process of destruction.
18. We agree to contaminate, to be contaminated. We will stay the same. Become more of the same.
This violence of desire, this listening to each other, as if we care, or that the other has something to say, or knows what they want to say, or that we can understand what they said or wanted to say, or that it is meaningful or relevant to our lives, or will result in anything beyond the seconds and minutes it took to say and listen to what was said. This violence of trying to agree with each other, with people we thought we loved, or thought we should love. As if love means not turning away, ignoring, kissing just to not have to listen, sleeping together just to dream of smothering, with our pillow, our blanket, our body, standing closer just to stop seeing your face, hearing your voice, dancing, together, apart, just to step on each other’s toes. No! I love you, that’s why I will stomp all over you, smash you with a hammer, but it will not hurt, because you are not really there, and I am not really hysterical. You are the ash, the void. The tyranny of these desires, of proposed shattered structures, immolations, but not yet.
13. There is no desire.
The violence of waiting, the void suppressed, of encouraging others to shatter and immolate, of showing them how, but hoping they wait, convincing them to wait, because the new bodies and structures haven’t yet been fully formed, fully replaced, the roles not yet secured, rhythms not yet in time. So that all that becomes shattered and immolated is ourselves, waiting, inside this structureless body, charred and cut up. I want to end the imprisoned, the authenticated, the desire. The totality of this chaos, this obsession with pathology, of the self. Don’t listen to me, I am the ash, the void, this is the linkage between us, this is the political act, for now.
The paradox of the authentic, chaotic, desiring self, that claims the truth, this unaccountability of the unlinked, the privileged vagueness:
“Come join me, join my war machine, I’ll help you, help you express your self, express yourself through me, through my desires. But, of course, you, you are free, you are free to do the same!”
“Sure, of course, I would love to! But. But only. But only if. But only if you. But only if you are. But only if you are OK. But only if you are OK with me. But only if you are OK with me smashing, your toes, with my, with my hammer, my hammer my body, my desire. I, desire, to, slice, off, your, desire, with the sickle. But it won’t hurt! Because you are not really there. This is the war machine. We are not really here. We are out there. In the perfect outside. Right?”
I slice my throat.
Do you then accept that the Oneness of the Subject is not?
“This decision can take no other form than the following; the one is not. It is not a question, however, of abandoning the principle Lacan assigned the symbolic; that there is Oneness. Everything turns on mastering the gap between the presupposition (that must be rejected) of being of the one and the thesis of its ‘there is’. What could there be, which is not? Strictly speaking, it is already too much to say ‘there is Oneness’ because the ‘there,’ taken as an errant localization, concedes a point of being to the one.” (Alain Badiou, Being and Event)
The claim that there is an authentic desiring self to be revealed, or ‘there is an evental apocalypse to come,’ is in itself the contradiction of a conditioned oneness. This contradiction maintains the impossibility of an approaching evental apocalypse and an Act of an accountable political Subject. This totality of the Desiring Self equates the politics to the impossible.
19. We step around the void, turn our backs, turn our backs on the void when it is filled. It is the gesture of what we do. Management as self-management: any tool, any tactic, becomes a strategy, without strategizing, never deliberate.
Mission is succinctly buried beneath the smog, the acid rain, the swarm of toxic bodies. Calls are transmitted through weak signals, weak ambitions. Animals crawl, towards the top, what happened, to the ladder, we claimed, to kick down? Someone is now stranded, at the top, alien to the lines, of skyscrapers, with no, way, down.
15. There is no fear of non-total success, entering becoming.
14. Building through the gesture. The gesture starts to become a language. The language is flexible, mutable. It is only language when it is performed back.
8. Refusal, flexibility, institutional, against: not processes, but tools for communicability. Not tools, but processes, not communicability.
What does it mean to be for a new series of calls, interventions, experiments–emotional, social, ideological, tactical–with ourselves and each other, destructive of anything and anyone that would try to stop them, to limit the conditions for their enactment for the sake of strategy, of politics.
10. Every tool is an extension of a preexisting relation, a gesture.
The politics of strategy, for the sake of enactment, and destruction, of the conditions, that are limited, and reluctant to anything, that would claim, them visible, to anything, that would reveal, the self, behind the experiments, interventions, the series of calls.
Constructive destruction tackles our minds, inherently, under notions of convenience, convenient structures. Survival, via the privilege of knowledge, on our tongues, the privilege of our tongues, the privilege of their survival. Community, only with the sea oh em, AKA, recruitment. Indoctrination at its best, asking, when does one’s kin need a stake in order to be burned? This land is not ours, or yours, when all are encapsulated by fear of the assembled massacre, lucid dreams of ownership quelled through incentivized consensus.
23. Preexisting in a separate gesture.
Solidarity implies empathy, an infusion of voices, a sea of disruptive tranquility. Tectonic tremors counter passivity, difficult to ignore. Degradation travels with the speeds of speculative sounds. Down with status-ticians. We are not numbers, but we need them.
24. They already exist.
Some notes toward uncommon histories and analyses, shared spaces of disagreement, when the failure of consensus can explode not just on itself and those miserably pushing its coffin, but rather explode onto the conditions which led us to this discussion in the first place. Some notes towards movements apart and not together, away from our safe spaces of agreed upon political occupation.
22. It is through dissensus. Nothing to kill or, more violently, reorganize.
Let’s have the confidence to reject a populism based on those we know, those whose phone numbers and email addresses we have and use, those who know who we’re sleeping with or want to sleep with, where we live, eat, work. This is no more liberating than a populism which wants to tax and not kill the rich, regulate and not burn their institutions. You can’t organize friendships any more than you can announce the revolution on the internet.
Or you can try both, trigger both, in their failure.
After, postponing my legal appointment for the second time. Before, I searched out a personal vendetta, hiding behind solidarity and social media, but when I forced a handshake upon it, it was all but mute, “I just wanted to put a face to a name.”
Sometimes I care about victory. But truth be told, it makes no difference. Or, more, of the same, difference, as they say. A queer thought. How filling the space, with presence, so as to own it, so as to discourse, so as to fill it with process, to erect principles, so as to make demands.
I am not principled nor well governed by generalities. Each duration offers momentary axioms and paradigms for the construction of weak thoughts, yielding to actions, a situation.
Having little to do with my dominated eyes, in a transparent dream one could see how, the world may never look different but will feel entirely new.
11. Every tool employed simultaneously extends the gesture, the practice of life, the performance of language, the relation.
9. Nobody needs to be convinced. It is already performed as it will be.
Willing to sacrifice others, trapped in a cage, of cemented industry, blind to the detriments.
3. This is a reflection on current, past. This is conversations, events, action.
If for the first time the protest is not a protest, it remains trapped in a certain space which, prodigious as it appears through the glow of certain peculiar gestures, remains in the dusty twilight of the impossibility of specific action. Somebody walks around the block. Somebody else walks around the block. N persons walk around whatever block. If the seemingly meaningless drift of individuals is compounded, one wonders if there is any meaning, or if the only allure is the delight of a more complicated pattern. Sure, it scares them, but it scares us because it scares them. They stare at impossibility, only to receive little to no acknowledgement. Sometimes, minor functionaries make jokes and talk about the weather. Sometimes, they slam faces into the pavement. Both tragedy and comedy were said to have taken place in the same theater. The house of cards collapses and becomes a labyrinth, the labyrinth collapses and becomes a discussion, the discussion witnesses the movement of the pawn, delights in holding it apathetic in the tentacles of process. Our minds, bound, care for demands, but our bodies and our souls only care for warmth, joy, movement. Suitable formulations come together and fall apart, the rhythmic mumbling of progressives stops short well before it becomes enchanting.
“We want to attack the cops, we want to become the cops, we want to live in a world of magic.”
Nonsense comes before error. While error locks itself to the mast of a doomed ship, nonsense has rearranged the deck chairs into a Swiss bank account for a woodsy commune. If we take ourselves less than seriously, it is only because that terrain of scrutiny brings terror and catastrophe. We don’t want to pretend to be striking any more than we want to pretend to be working. We don’t want a part of impossible activist projects; squaring the circle or organizing for revolution. The first is more obvious, a tragic arrest at the hands of geometry. Can a circle of consent exist within the staggering intoxication of corporate architecture, each calculation factored within and attacked by the horrors of mirrored glass. Can one paint a skeleton brightly, or take tea with a carcass? Liberty has never existed within any four corners that foreclose on its very possibility. And the circle staggers, collapses into a semi-circle, they become uncomfortable talking to each other, and struggle instead to talk to every other. Organizing comes from fear, from responsibility, from a subtle psychic submission to an order we claim to hate. Even in the Grundrisse one finds that alienation demands not material labor, but rather fidelity to the worker as social category. And nobody works harder than the social worker, the community organizer, the individual who, despite being formally unemployed, chooses quite voluntarily to view their affective practice as a form of production towards a certain end, be it ‘social justice’ or else. Working for free, they demand observance; they think they make truth or justice but they only make patterns.
26. We talk across the void in the center. Our negotiations are temporary contracts, our processes flexible.
“That lone sheriff is long dead, the wilderness is long gone, first came a steady stream of marshals, then everything else. CCTV. Box Stores. Happy Meals. New Metal. It is no longer the matter of a gutsy cold blooded killing, but a calculated procedure of extraction. Burn the precincts in your head.”
25. We work on how we work together for when our structures infiltrate another.