Matze Schmidt on Fri, 24 Dec 2010 16:02:01 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Interview with Tommaso Debenedetti and Matze Schmidt about WikiLeaks

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Interview with Tommaso Debenedetti and Matze Schmidt about WikiLeaks

1st Part

Matze Schmidt: Mr. Debenedetti, you've been talking to Julian Assange 
several times the last years and quoted him in connection with the 
discovery of this new intellectual computer specialist avant-garde. 
To ask straight forward: Do you think he is fake?

Tommaso Debenedetti: Well, I don't believe he is fake. The WikiLeaks 
project has had so much success the last years, no distinction, fake 
or original, can change this. It is evidence that so called free 
information breaks through now. Only this Foucaultian power does 
not want to see it, wants to prohibit. But who prohibits the truth 
of alcohol?

Matze Schmidt: I am a little bit puzzled. Do you deem a mass drug 
can be compared to a media system like WikiLeaks which brings up 
secret, and classified information? Or is your conception of this 
undertaking a more psychological one?

Tommaso Debenedetti: You are right. I am kidding, but it is serious 
kidding. The common idea, the general idea of mass media is to help 
us navigating in a sea or galaxy of information. This was changed 
by the outdated but not outmoded very literary philosophy named 
postmodernism which acclaimed or, ... oh no, it did not acclaim, 
it just offered very aggressively something like: Okay, all we have 
is the text and icons and it's machines, this world is a second 
nature so let's use it to ..., yah, well, to what? The real fake is 
not a false truth but the visible, recognizable fake. The twisty 
wrongly thing which can be discussed. Everything else, every clarity 
is just conspiracy and theory of conspiracy. The logos of something 
like this "All Cretans lie, and since I am a Cretan I am lying" is 
an obscure one, it satisfies the requirements of the written form, 
but practise is more chaotic, more non-rational. We need more complex 
theories on that fundamental mechanisms of action in relation to a 
text or texts.

Matze Schmidt: But don't we have for instance Julia Kristeva and 

Tommaso Debenedetti: Yes but she is just another figure within a 
system, e.g. Wikipedia. And there one can find Kristeva as the 
Wikipedia-Kristeva-Version. Remember, fakes are knowable fakes because 
they're open. Assange seems to be not an open person but an open fake, 
a figure within an iconic game. We can discuss him as the symbol in a 
fight. The relation to text ends where the linguistic analysis ends or 
-- to pun -- the lingusitic turn turns away. This happens when the 
real world, when the real happens wihtout the principles of textual 
structures or anti-structures. Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia talks about 
Wikipedia as a public park, or was it a temple for the brains? They 
want to fraternize the old Greek culture of literacy with the 
mass-individual-fast-food-media in the framework of a so called 
digital public space, the old agora. It is the model of the 
encyclopedia, the expert knowledge now combined with the everyday 
knowledge. There is no third for them.

Matze Schmidt: What could be the third?

Tommaso Debenedetti: A real restructured and restructuring knowledge. 
You know I wrote this interview with Philip Roth I never made. There 
is this photo of Roth in his studio shot by the famous James Nachtwey. 
Roth is standing there right in frotn of the window in a manufactory 
with an old typwriter here, a computer there, a stand there. He is 
not in a factory, he blocking the windows, his posture is that of a 
Goethe, of a writer writing. This must end and then we can find the 
third or fourth.

Matze Schmidt: A very normative score. Julian Assange is a figure 
expressly designated as a rebel, but did you really met him as you 
are known for hoaxes and fake interviews? Do you have any proof of 
the existence of the interview you made?

Tommaso Debenedetti: Got o laugh -- no, I guess I lost the tapes. 
Um, to meet a rebel is a cliché since meeting Che in combat, or since 
showing myself as a reporter in the vietnam war or since the 
Zapatistas, who designed themselves as a comic strip to-be and a 
force to be seen but certainly within a gravity.

Matze Schmidt: What did he tell you?

Tommaso Debenedetti: You should rather ask me what I asked him.

Matze Schmidt: Are his answers less important?

Tommaso Debenedetti: No, but they are material, they are mass. The 
interview as a form of dialogue only generates this fidelity. It is 
a discipline, your reading is the event.

Matze Schmidt: Wouldn't you be interested in the statements of a 
person our focus is on?

Tommaso Debenedetti: Who is the 'our' here, and what is the focus? 
Andy Warhols decadent interviews where question-answer-games with 
this mirror in between mirroring the question as a questionable and 
affirming it at the same moment.

Matze Schmidt: Okay, but Julian Assange was not dumb like Blixa 
Bargeld who once said really nothing verbally in a German Talk Show.

Tommaso Debenedetti: All these names -- Assange was telling what 
everyone seems to know about WikiLeaks and so on. It was less 
valuable what he said or what his persona looked like than what this 
interview made with him and the surroundings. The situation 
fabricated a kind of un-kowledge, so to say. But this is of course 
just a speculation. A gossip, a mystic outcome followed, as a matter 
of fact an insecurity. In fact you as an interviewer are helping at 
this point. He knew I was making interviews with persons I never met. 
So all we have is like a photo showing the place after the show, like 
the rests of an echo of a tune.

Matze Schmidt: But the big deals are made with artificial sceneries 
and not with undisguised photos. Commodity is what we have all the 
time, don't we need more practical valuable stuff?

Tommaso Debenedetti: I agree, but criticizing the staging is not 
qualified anymore alone. We know all these tricks of Verfremdung, 
alienation, disassociation, bending. This all turned into a style one 
can sample and reincorporate and recapture. WikiLeaks is mainly about 
gossip. Isn't it unsurprisingly when you see soldiers killing 
civilians or when you see the looting of Kenya? The first is war, the 
second is long-known. Gossip is telling things in the shape of secrets 
very close to the conspiracy, a plot that explains the world, that 
simplifies matters. And gossip theory tells that the true or untrue 
statement has no true or untrue kernel but points out what might come 
and what was, in the relationships of the producers of the message or 
the sound. Because truth lies within what can bee forseen and where 
does it come from, it is a social procedure.

Matze Schmidt: This is nothing new.

Tommaso Debenedetti: No, but the chatty Web holds a lot of subjects 
for the swarm scientists, the biological-sociological complex. This 
crew is talking about old western values that erode and that we as 
citizens have to define our self and ego. The theory sets the 
individual and the group anew. They define self-organisation in a 
non-political way as the organisation of the single self. The 
organisation of the group is only approved for solving problems. In 
the end this swarm theory is a utilitarian biologistic one. 
Does Whistleblower networks give us guidance here?

Matze Schmidt: All these people behind Xerox-Guy-Fawkes-masks seem to 
support exactly this manipulation mechanism when they protest against 
Assanges arrest.

Tommaso Debenedetti: Yes, and at the same time they display the need 
for representatives that stand for simple methods.

Matze Schmidt: This signals crisis.

--------------------------- End of 1st Part ----------------------------

Appears in: n0name newsletter #151 [German]

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