Sally Jane Norman on Sun, 28 Mar 1999 20:47:26 +0200

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Syndicate: an unuseful expression of solidarity

Dear Friends
This message to fellow syndicalists has been a long, wracked number of days 
in the making ; perhaps Iâ??m one of many reticent to occupy the vital 
space-time, phone and electricity resources, that this list currently offers and 
demands. In life and death situations, can an outsiderâ??s subjective 
yearnings come through as anything better than idle rhetoric? Readers seeking 
concrete info and feedback on immediate issues please skip this message now and 
accept my apologies. How to act concretely at this trivial level : the school 
where Iâ??ve barely begun working is so backward in its networking practice 
that right now it makes most sense simply to talk to the students individually, 
to trigger some discussion, pass on URLs and some of the onslaught of these 
messages. Nothing that looks or feels impressive or even particularly effective, 
just stupid, dogged attempts to communicate on a one-to-one level. 
Next Five Minutes then next five days then next five days then all hell broke 
loose. Ironic to see tactical media being pushed to the hilt, acrobatics of 
communication channels tracing eery trajectories ; the choreography of media 
mobility with its precariousness and its poignancy as I exalted it two weeks 
back has become a very different dance, and to focus on its formal attributes 
seems obscene. The aesthetics of structure, of organisation â?? but how can 
one even think/say this without suffering (self-)recrimination for indulgence? 
Lisa, forgive me for not contributing yesterday, Iâ??m numbstruck dumbstruck 
which is no excuse. Not knowing what to say and feeling embarrassed about 
encumbering with mumblings, particularly since our hitherto familiar syndicate 
" family " has spawned massively, and many newcomers are 
understandably not tuned or receptive to musings of the unuseful kind. Iâ??m 
deeply troubled by this encounter with emergency media activism and by the 
specific conditions it reflects : every day in the French press for years we 
have been informed of appalling exactions in Algeria that go unchecked, 
including since March 25th (imminent elections are prompting new 
bouts of violence), of atrocities in warring African states that go unchecked ; 
cases in which our (post-)colonial history bears a heavy responsibility, but in 
those cases, the networked organisation and information channelling that 
weâ??re currently witnessing/ building hasnâ??t existed. Tutsi and Hutu 
massacres were off the media map in many ways â?? until it was too late to 
do anything other than indignantly " try " the authors in the name of 
horrifyingly deferred humanitarianism. Media disparities, discontinuities, 
disconnections : no networks, no information, postponed compassion, manageable 
remorse - the story too often. Perhaps like a lot of people, because this is my 
first experience of this kind, Iâ??m at sea in the present situation where 
people met personally or on screen, people who inhabit my social space, are 
feeding back reflections on their own immediately jeopardised survival. 
Katarina, Branka, your faces are constantly in mind, for what itâ??s worth ; 
my love and will for your strength to be upheld.
A couple of weeks ago, I craved the vision of Te Kotukuâ??s white wings 
flashing in the sky and felt that they might soon be seen in Belgrade, as a 
syndicate sign of hope. Strange premonition. Te Kotuku, the White Heron, 
supplanted by the Night Falcon, a black bird of prey, as furtive as Te Kotuku is 
soaringly visible. Tena koe, Honor : a mirror on the Pacific rim can surely 
mirror pacific sentiments. Ipurangi, the network, vessel of the heavens. 
Sky-hopper/ sky-hoper messages between friends. Constellations of yearning to 
overcome chains of destructive commands. 
Kia kaha, Kia ora
Sally Jane Norman