Alan Sondheim on Fri, 20 Sep 2002 05:01:26 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The Coward

The Coward

Last night I replugged into the dying power-grid, charging cell-phone,
nicads for the digital camera, this laptop. The phone depends on a
secondary grid of towers and antennas; the camera reproduces nothing
without downloading; the laptop connects to a third grid, internetwork-
ing. Generators operate in New York City, across the country; the
generator complex I've seen near Niagara is the largest confluence of
machinery I know. There is an indescribable silence of people, men and
women, behind the scenes, who have designed and built and tested the grids
and technology; these are people of the disappearances to come, the war
already glistening on the horizon.

The cell-phone conveys personal and political pessimisms across country
and countries, one unstable nation-state to another. The digital camera
bears witness, still, to nothing, a reproductive emphasis mainstreamed
into 3d animations and other explorations of language, sexuality, body.
When the war comes, the camera will be there, recording yet another
collapse, perhaps the final one, as humanity has already blasted and
slaughtered its way through much of the ecosphere.

And the computer, on its dying batteries, will repeatedly attempt to
connect on the broken copper-wire phone-grid; the heroics of the Net in
other wars will reduced to mute and brutal silence as screens flicker out
for the last time. But now the computer conveys otherwise, analysis after
analysis, exposing our government and their government, our evil ruling
class, and theirs, and their intermixing and interbreeding, and their
back-handing deals and kickbacks, and their unconcern for populations of
men, women, and children, as they slide back down into the game of war.

The analysis, like Freud's, is interminable, repetitious, necessary, and
depressing. It is necessary because it enables us to recognize, perhaps
for the last time, the evil humans are capable of. It is interminable
because new facts and situations come to light, as nations move closer to
war, to intolerance, to the right. And it is repetitious, because we have
witnessed all of this before - the duplicity, the violence of language
tending towards material violence, the impending holocaust-to-come.

The question repeatedly returns - what is to be done - beyond the talk and
protest and organizing; the one movement-moment of four hijacked planes
turned the world upside-down, more than any analysis or mass-movement has
ever done. It is not that empire has collapsed; it is that empire has
turned ever more hideous, paranoid, and closed-off, closed-down, taking
its armies and weapons with it. It is not that speech and analysis are
curtailed; it is that speech and analysis are rendered useless,

So it is clear, just as it was in Imperial Rome, that what is to be done,
is being done-for-us; that it is already in motion, that protest and
accuracy and resistance are as futile as the turning-back of regimes
intent on conflagration.

If one thinks back to Imperial Rome - it was Lucan who died, not Nero;
analysis terminable and interminable would not have stayed the course of
events. What we are working on is the accuracy of our vision, our
witnessing, as if there were a transcendence to truth, as if truth were
part and parcel of natural or instrumental reason. If our analysis stops
at the gate of hopelessness, it does so because, beyond, is nothing but
erasure, and that is already done-for-us - from the internal violence of
transnational corporations, to the enormous lies of power that must, in
order to maintain itself, deceive.

I am well aware that I am contributing nothing here, that I have nothing
to contribute. At the very least, we need barricades, more and more
barricades; onslaught is slowed by stones and wood...


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