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<nettime> More thoughts on the American election
Wade Tillett on Sun, 9 Nov 2008 04:44:40 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> More thoughts on the American election

I'd heard the name, but I couldn't figure out what the big deal was. The
policy difference between Obama and Hillary made me wonder why anyone

The first time I heard him speak I was struck with simultaneous joy and
fear: I believed him. I don't mean I believed what he said, or that I
agreed with his policies, but rather, I believed that he believed what
he said, that he was sincere.

Who would I dare to admit that too? Believing in the sincerity of a
politician? What sort of ridicule and disappointment would that set me
up for?

My eight-year-old son and I watched in amazement after he won Iowa.

Just this spring, he was studying the presidents from a crumbled
photocopy. He loved those presidents (it must be the age). He tolerated
me marking which ones had owned slaves. 

One day, it suddenly occurred to him, they are all men, and all white.
But I wanted to be president. 

You can be. 

The photocopy spoke otherwise.

Hundreds, then thousands, of us marching downtown to protest the war
before it started. Pathetic turnout, I thought. I jumped up to climb the
scaffolding of the Hard Rock Hotel and scrawl No War in chalk.

It was painted over before I came to work the next morning.

Bombs fall.

Tens of thousands of us, a liquid movement, flow around the cop cars and
the cops like they aren't there. We are on Lake Shore Drive headed North
in the north-bound lanes. The cops block our lanes, so we hop the median
and walk among the cars in the south-bound lanes. Many people in the
cars, to my surprise, are waving, honking, giving thumbs-up to us - even
though we just trapped them there for an hour or so. 

At Michigan Ave., hundreds of heavily-clad riot cops are marching in
rows and columns. We sing It's a small world after all.

It never occurred to me that Bush would win again in 2004.

I am so thankful the markets didn't crash then. The country xenophobic. 

Hundreds of thousands of us, marching from Union Park past Haymarket
Square to Federal Plaza on March 26, or on May 1, Grant Park. For many
undocumented workers, the risks of being here are immense. Si se puede.

Driving back from Ohio. One station has a special guest stating he has
proved Ayers wrote Obama's Dreams of My Father, because it has about the
same number of words per sentence and Fugitive Days, and they both use
nautical themes, and they're both written in English or whatever. More
amazing are the callers on all the stations. Whipped into a frenzy. They
sense their loss. Fear. Hate.

To be fair, if there was an Obama of the right, I'd be scared.

Bill Ayers is on my dissertation committee.

A movement within the system, is by definition, not a movement - so says
the same sort of people who once told me we couldn't advocate for a
living wage because that was working within the capitalist system. What
if, this is a movement so broad that we don't recognize it? A glacial

Rahm Emmanuel, just a few months ago, was riding a backhoe through the
overflowing river rising to the front step of my house, waving to us
with his wife and kids in tow. 

Somehow his tour of our destruction didn't sit right with me.

Hundreds of thousands of us, boarding trains and busses, walking on to
baseball fields converted into a giant pond of humans. My son is on my
shoulders. He says he can see Obama. I can see the jumbotron. Yes we

When they call Ohio, suddenly I feel like somebody has hit me in the
stomach, and it climbs up to my throat and pulls on my eyes. I never
really believed it would happen until it happened. Even though every
poll told me otherwise, I never really believed it until people actually
cast their votes and they were counted.

The following is from Michel Serres' In the City: Agitated Multiplicity
found in Andrew Ballantyne's Architecture Theory, 2005 by Continuum, New

All of Livy's stories recount the capture of the multiple by the single.
This history is one of capture; this capture is itself our history. The
multiple rushes along, then is trapped by the single. Whether that is
called theory or practice, power or representation, it leads back to
this primary and constant operation. Thus we have to search for the
single king, hero, master, slave, someone or other, the standard or most
recent situation onto which this operation projects the multiple.

He is the intersection of three functions: the centurion in his glorious
hour of service; the peasant farmer ruined by debts and taxes; the
imposing old man with silver head and beard - a strange and charismatic
apparition of authority. His body, covered with signs, is already carved
up; one part for the soldiers, one for the farmers, one for the
tribunal. He is precisely the joker; he carries all signs, all values.
The sum of signs or their union, the intersection of groups and their
convergence in one divided individual. The union and intersection of the
subgroups present.

He is alone; yet the separate groups touch at this point, like tangents.
In this great, withered old man, contingency appears. And the geometry
or logic of contingency is no trifle. We are in the habit of scorning it
excessively. It is not the absence of law but the local accumulation of
refined little laws. The joker, positioned in a sequence, neighboring
one value on one side and another on the other side, makes the sequence
bifurcate. Through him it jumps from war to debt, for example, or
inversely, from the potential to the act; it does not jump from one
state to another without him. In this point of contingency, two
unrelated variations are tangential; that is the role of the old man,
the joker. Here, through him, in him - depending on the circumstance, or
what happens locally around him - history will hesitate; it will take or
could take, a certain direction or meaning. Contingency is precisely
this place of bifurcation. The old singleton is a singularity, like
Cleopatra's nose; he is the project of given multiplicities.

He is carved up, torn up, divided.... The body is well marked with a
precised, decomposed, legible formula. Now it enters into the melange.
It is drowned in contingency. It is absorbed by the crowd, by the text,
and will never come out; it will never be mentioned again. Annihilated,

On the contrary - will it reappear?

In fighting, they did not let the singleton capture their forces. They
were trapped by class struggle. The only real trap is war, hatred, the

They understood - white light. They understood and they did not kill.
Murder is transformed into specatacle. The thing is transformed into
fable. Into words.

Romulus left. Romulus is excluded. He takes to the woods. He does not
understand. Romulus buries his thought at the bottom of the ditch. They
understood. And they did not establish. They form an unfounded city
within the founded city.

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