The Truth about Cats and Dogs

derridas-cat When I play with my cat , who knows if I am not a pastime to her , more than she is to me?  ( Montaigne, quoted in Derrida)

Sometime towards the end of the last millenium the philosopher Jacques Derrida made a nocturnal visit to the toilet and was met, expectantly , by his cat. Derrida, naked, was also figuratively undressed by the experience.

‘Why should it matter to me, that my cat, who I presume it does not matter to , meets me naked, and  what does the impact of that concern mean in terms of how we meet as Beings ?’ , he thought, except in French, and with a lot more rigour and quotations. And carried on thinking about it over  a lecture series later published as ‘The Animal that Therefore I am’

You might imagine that would be a pretty exhaustive amount of liminal pondering. However twenty years have passed and the ethical climate has changed as far as interspecies interactions go.

Over that period connotations of the word ‘Derrida’ have moved away from images of the Johnny Rotten of philosophy Gallicly-gobbing all over sacred texts to the bewildered spluttering of Oxbridge types rowing their logical-positivist punt gently down the stream, and onto a cuddly Mon Oncle of oracular ambiguity , comfortingly referenced in popular song, biopic and every self-respecting artists catalogue notes, with the reassuring option that we loved him because he was surely too complicated to take seriously, like pretend-butter-wouldnt-melt in his mouth.

Thus Derrida s piece on The Animal is adapted from a ten hour lecture series he gave annually in a French chateau to a bunch of his Bachelaureated pals. That is – we ll book you a castle, you turn up and talk about what you like for a few hours and we ll turn it into a book for you.  Pretty much middle-aged-don fantasy land. We should probably be grateful there is , as usual, some body to it.

Derrida, I like to think, because my Derrida was amazingly knowing, willingly gave up himself (or part(s) thereof) up as a text. For example , the Man Who (failed to ) Encounter His Cat and therefore remained unfortunately left behind in the Anthropocene, as out of date as the Metal Box, yet having made possible all useful thinking ( or music) since.

Thinking concerning the animal , if there is such a thing, derives from poetry. Thus you have a thesis – it is what philosophy has essentially had to deprive itself of.

(intro, The Animal.., Derrida)

There will be a T shirt somewhere.  It might even be in my wardrobe.

Donna Haraway revisits the encounter in her Where Species Meet.. and wants to challenge Derrida for failing to give space to what the cat may have wanted, and to make a true encounter.

The question of suffering led Derrida to the virtue of pity , and that is not a small thing. But how much more promise is there in the questions – can animals play? or work? And even, can I learn to play with this cat? Can I the philosopher respond to an invitation or  recognise  one when it is offered? What if work and play, and not just pity, open up when the possibility of mutual response without power is taken seriously as an everyday practice available to philosophy and to science. What if a useable word for this is joy?  And what if the question of how animals engage one another’s gaze responsively takes centre stage for people? What if this is the query, once it’s protocol is properly established , whose form changes everything? My guess is that Derrida the man in the bathroom , grasped all this but that Derrida the philosopher had no idea how to practice this sort of curiosity.

Elsewhere in her essay Haraway does (thankfully) acknowledge that D may have had other fish to fry in his lectures ( animals as an example of ambiguous categorization, deconstructive critique of  how philosophy usually operates and how it fails parts of reality and human experience by cramming experience into binary categories, what it means to be naked ,  that sort of thing). However she is also deliberately using his exalted status to dare to suggest there may be a royal road into intersubjectivity and Being , in the ruins of a precarious world, through concrete relations with non-humans, and this requires an overturning of some sacred cows (although not, of course, actual ones, unless with their consent).

Haraway is particularly interested in what it means to touch a living animal. These then are the embodied encounters at the margins , limits or chiasmic zones ( depending on your French philosopher of choice) which involve processes of consent and trust , risk and play , which are mutual and negotiable , and of course non-verbal – at least on the side of the animal.

Her interest, which I am allowed to find sentimental , is mostly in dogs , which I am allowed to find ‘unnatural’, but also creates a more general challenge to what is acceptable ethically ( what rights do companion species have?) and as discourse  ( can we build a usable body of work out of anecdotes about our pets/lives/subjectivity?).   One claim which is indisputable is that the sentiment of people towards animals has been written out of sciences such as ethology ( and in my experience, ecology, where the quadrats were never quite as randomly thrown as they were supposed to be) , and the influences that animals may have had on scientists may be narrating our histories as we narrate theirs.

The work of Vincianne Despret is wonderfully revealing of this.

One of the things which has been written out , and may be even more significant to how we do discourse, is that learning is always contextual and subjective , and is about learning with, rather than learning about.  And if we can take that approach we can dispense with futile discussions about the privileged position of the human subject – and instead acknowledge that difference is always given, but never essential or profound and only contextually significant.

If my source of love and warmth comes from an individual is it so significant that they are of a different species so long as the experience is mutually beneficial and consenting?

Perhaps, although I wonder how much pets can consent? Time to feed the gerbils..


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The gerbils have found themselves in a cage in my kitchen. They might be in a burrow somewhere in Uzbekhistan, where they would be able to build a proper nest site, and find mates , but might also freeze or starve to death, or be predated by the steppe eagle.

I feel a kind of guilt about their lack of stimuli, and have tried to introduce sticks , outings and multi level living spaces for them to explore. I don’t know how to tell if a gerbil looks bored, but I ve assumed that a more active and less sluggish animal is somehow more fulfilled. This is what the wildlife docs tell me, but is probably psychological projection. Sometimes when in unfamiliarly exciting territory the gerbils stamp alarm calls, and move jerkily and restlessly. Other times not- one pleasant outing ended when they made a nest in the washing machine tub amongst the dirty clothes. This becomes a nice story-to-tell-about-our-pets – we exclude from it that there is no source of food and safety in the home environment (or beyond it appears, colonies of escaped gerbils in the UK have been recorded but have all died out, probably from starvation)- and we credit them with a discernment that recognises the washing machine as a suitable spot for a nest -rather than  carrying out a habitual and automatic behaviour futilely in an alien environment.

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Who knows? I may be the Animal who speaks , but they are the other animals who don’t, and any interpolations are really guesses. I think that Haraway is saying something about this, that the sense of knowledge which is abstracted is in fact trapped in the assumptions of its authors, and what we have instead , truthfully, are emotional, embodied reactions to guide us.

 

 Interpollation is a term recovered by philosopher Louis Althusser to describe how sujects are constituted from concrete individuals by being ‘hailed’ through ideology in to the modern state. Today, through our ideologically loaded narratives of their lives, animals ‘hail’ us as animal people to account for the regimes in which they and we must live. We ‘hail’ them into our constructs of nature and culture, with major consequences of life and death, health and illness, longevity and extinction. We also live with each other in the flesh in ways not exhausted by our ideologies. In that is our hope..   (Haraway from Where Creatures Meet)

‘Hailed ‘ is an odd term – I suspect at the end of two awkward translations, from medieval French , through the lexicon of the Ecole Superieure and into English. I read, instead, ‘challenged’ or ‘ situated’.   I wonder how much animals hail us, and how much other peoples ( cultural) expectations do?  In my own small experiment the eye of a hungry gerbil is hard to ignore, but you can avoid going past the cage – much like we choose not to look at factory farming, or the mass extinction of lots of species we don’t know much about.

Donna Haraway’s example of living with each other in the flesh seems to be mainly about dog training for obstacle courses, which is a sport where she is, well away, I imagine,from anywhere that races greyhounds.  Elsewhere she considers the world of champion pigeon racers. Both appeal to her as examples of cyborg living , bending the rules and boundaries of subject and object.  Vincianne Despret also talks about interactions between farmers and livestock, experimenters and lab animals, and trainers and parrots. She describes how an African Grey Parrot is motivated to speak by being ignored, and then rewarded, and how it required an engagement in the life of the trainer to continue to do so. But the significant thing was that this process was found by trial and error, and by negotiation with the animal.

The only way me and the gerbils approach interspecies play is around food. Food is probably the one incentive of a captive animal  around which it will negotiate with its captors. Its the traditional training treat of every circus and pet behaviour programme. We handfed the gerbils as an attempt to get them used to handling. They learnt to associate us with food, and our arrival in the kitchen as a potential feeding time, when they dance around their cage being very obvious. Gerbils have preferred foods they will eat in order, so there is also an interesting discourse about being fed (and accepting) less popular foods , or holding out, and importuning for better morsels. There is a certain dance around whether or when they will eat what they are given , and how much energy they will expend on requesting better. But if we give them what they want they are quickly gone.

In the midst of these relationships are moments when we (‘the humans’) are not sure what they are doing, and they (‘the animals’) guide them by their responses.  I guess the hope Haraway speaks about is that we may see a way of coevolving with others ( companion species) which is more appropriate to coexistence and does not alienate or exclude creatures from subjectivity or participation.  And in doing so we will be able to  move on from the generalizations and faux objectivity which have trapped our discourse over the last couple of centuries Then as Jim Morrison once said there might be a ‘store where the creatures meet’..

 

 

 

Saprophagy, or growth from decay

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The Mushroom at the End of the World –

On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, 2015

 

I believe that contexts create the possibility of products which fit them well. And that the recognition of that process, whether we understand it ecologically, evolutionarily, philosophically or aesthetically, is a lesson which is both hopeful, and at the same time, profoundly disenchanting.

This book both describes such a process and is I think itself part of a number of other such processes, which I’d like to feel part of. Discussing the possibility of life in the post-capitalist ruins feels an essential, if immodest, ambition.

I will not spend much time here on a book review. It has been well and favourable covered for example, here.  It s a study by an anthropologist , with interests in the history of science , feminism and economics , of the history and cultural formations of a trade in matsutake mushrooms , which are a delicacy in Japan ( think truffles, perhaps) , but increasingly need to be sourced internationally  ( China, Finland, Pacific Coast North America) and sped around the world in aircraft . The mushrooms have very demanding and specific growing conditions, which make them pop up in (ecologically ) marginal places and are harvested by (socially and economically) marginal people, and sold on for top dollar.

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And in so many books I’ve eagerly read which consider the present as it informs the future, that would be it. A critique or a well-described idea.  And a suggestion that this could lead somewhere if only..

What impressed me deeply about this book is what more it does, its generosity of ideas. Tsing has collected, developed or coined at least a dozen ideas which would – like it says on the cover- help us to think usefully about where we are going – into the capitalist ruins. These include ideas that relate to methodology ( assemblage ), ecology(disturbance), economics( scalability, salvage accumulation), anthropology( boundary object, science as translation) and politics( precariousness, indeterminacy). They are worked out, applied to the study area of the matsutake assemblage, and referred to other contexts. Much of the work she reports is collaborative, cross cultural and innovative.

About her work she makes the aside

Radical curiosity beckons. Perhaps an anthropologist, trained in one of the few remaining sciences that value observation and description, might come in handy.

Amongst all this my favourite part of the book is her observation and description of how  different hunters ( different in culture, age, gender and purpose) forage for matsutake and  particularly her observation of the attunements they make to create some method to find ( and remember how they found) an  underground sporing body growing in the vast unmarked regrowth woodlands of the pacific north west.

It is a form of forest knowledge and appreciation without the completeness of classification – instead searching brings us to the liveliness of beings experienced as subjects rather than objects

 

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Matsutake in Finland

However for blog purposes and brevity, what I want to look at is her idea of ‘latent commons’. Like many of Tsing’s ideas this operates simultaneously (and slightly ‘without the completeness of classification’). at many levels, and has the potential of being an engine for living differently.

She introduces it via an account of one of the many local heroes in this book, an educator and community organizer in rural Oregon named Beverly Brown who and encountered, translated and empowered via training and sponsoring conversations in the disparate linguistic groups around the nexus of matsutake harvest there.

Tsing says

Brown’s advocacy for political listening inspires me to think past a disturbance in our aspirations. Without progress, what is struggle?

Brown’s political listening addresses this. It suggests that any gathering contains many inchoate political futures and that political work consists of helping some of those come into being. Indeterminacy is not the end of history but rather that node in which many beginnings lie in wait. To listen politically is to detect the traces of not-yet-articulated common agendas.

 

The word common is carefully chosen. it echoes the set asides that still lie puzzlingly fallow on maps around ancient European townships  (although they are frequently lively and contested places) – Clapham Common, Common Ridings, Common Good funds, and a long term eco-political concern , The ‘tragedy of the commons’, the appropriation and capitalist exploitation of the physical resources they have always implied ( see also, in a local example, Andy Wightman’s work ).

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Common ground, Montrose

However there is a subtle distinction being made by Tsing – the richness of commons for her is the interaction of human and biological actors around a ‘common’ site, rather than the resource itself.

 

We need many kinds of alertness to spot potential allies. Worse yet the common agendas we detect are undeveloped , thin spotty and unstable. At best we are looking for a most ephemeral glimmer. But living with indeterminacy , such glimmers are the political.

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In an ancient ritual, which may be somehow related to common riding, the Burry Man bemuses and underwhelms the people of South Queensferry every August

 

So ubiquitious , undeveloped , elusive yet effable and productive  – here are the further characteristics Tsing identifies of latent commons

  • Latent commons are not exclusively human enclaves
  •  Latent commons are not good for everyone
  •  Latent commons don’t institutionalize well
  •  Latent commons cannot redeem us.

I ve interpreted those a little for myself. For a common to form there needs to be a (common)  interest in an external . There will have to be interaction and compromise. This a way of articulating and reaching an assemblage of part identities.  The solutions she suggests mirror those researched by Nobel laureate Elinor Ostrom who found there were often contextual and pragmatic processes which had allowed commons to remain in use. Tsing s emphasis would be on the value of the new social formations created.

Tsing’s final point is emphasized  via a pamphlet she quotes in the text

the spectre that many try not to see is a simple realization – the world will not be ‘saved’. If we don’t believe in a global revolutionary future , we must live (as we in fact always had to) in  the present

Concentrates the mind wonderfully that..

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I d like to end (as is traditional at this time of year) with some contenders for latent commons. The first one came to me via a blog called Wader Tales.  which addresses the catastrophic loss of numbers of wading bird populations in the UK, through the translation of applied scientific research which concerns these birds as they make their near constant  hemispheric journeys in search of food and breeding sites. This  particular piece is about observation of the ecology which will allows waders to continue to produce young in farmland in Iceland, but it is also exemplary of similar studies being done in the UK to encourage the diminishing population of curlew.  Note the ‘alertness to spot potential allies’.

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The Mires of Funzie , Fetlar.  You ll find pics of the birds that live here on the Wader Tales site. They were busy the day I called ..

My second one is a film I watched this month by Agnes Varda entitled the Gleaners and I.  Its almost historic now ( released in 2000), but what I think is notable for the idea of latent commons is what happens in the making of the film which apply the metaphor of gleaning and indeterminacy to documentary making , and how that takes us all to wholly  unexpected places.  There is a new, collaborative Agnes Varda film out this year  Faces and Places, where she enters the France of the yellow vests and returns with a very different sense of community – one which has a message which speaks to the challenges of indeterminacy and latent commons.

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A final and more speculative one concerns the renegotiation of the use of the upland areas of Scotland. Although at some level this can be seen as a history of legislation , at a practical level it is worked out , by the progressive understanding of these areas as a latent common described by the word ‘ours’, and an increasingly engaged group of people reestablishing their presence in the landscape and noticing the struggles of animals and plants to remain there. Thus every footfall and encounter which takes place int previously privatised, enclosured and de-accessed uplands has the possibility of reanimating it. The suggestion of legislation and commissions are producing thought about what kinds of commons can exist in the uplands.

I’ll quickly name check the magnificent Raptor Persecution blog spot, the campaign to overturn SNHs licensing of a raven cull in Perthshire, and of course the community land buyouts which have begun to allow local people to consider that they might have a say in how the environment around them is used.

I m not utopian in this – I can see losses and setbacks , dangers of ‘blood and soil’ nationalism rooting in  our own bit hill and glen , and my beloved upland waders being chased off their nests by the right-to-roaming labrador herds, but I will end this post with a memory of an event on a cold Saturday morning in December when thirty disparate souls climbed onto Calton Hill to hack back gorse bushes and open up basking sites for grayling butterfly which are  recolonizing the city. At the same time each of those people were building their own connection with that place, and potentially with each other.

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* I got a fungi identification guide this year which proudly describes 2400 British species. These guys are somewhere between pp 476 and 518. But I m pretty sure they aren’t matsutake.

 

Everybody’s Smashing things UP*

The Luddites. In Huddersfield they broke things, assassinated capitalists , kept stum and disappeared back into the night. And about them there is now silence. In Heckmondike (or whatever it is called now) they had a meeting in a pub, decided to attack a factory, put the word out around the county, assembled at a distant meeting point, marched by night up hill and down dale to the factory, where the reinforcements hadn’t appeared, and attacked. The mill is stuffed with soldiers. There was a battle. So there is somewhere  and something to commemorate – there is a Trail now, and a plaque just outside the soft play on the edge of an  industrial estate to heroic failure (again).

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This clock overlooks the site of Rowson’s Mill. One of the things that capitalism was about was creating time discipline. Id say more but I am in a rush to get this finished.

It was a quest to find it, swinging around perilously in my  infernal machine through the stampede of traffic in search of Liversedge and Rowson’s Mill, in search of a place which seems to have many names and none.

The plaque says they lost. Wounds were incurred.  Then,  a hat was dropped in the river , which gave a clue to the bizzies , and arrests, deaths and executions followed.

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In the film version, led by bestubbled,thick biceped artisans the Luddites march down here

Then there was the book launch.I  realized as I was following the trail that  I was always ahead, anticipating. The mise en scene in my head. The torches, the stubble , the frock coats, the Emmerdale  accents. I suspect  this is from Shirley by Charlotte Bronte, who was local and had her own take on the characters.  but definitely romantic – in a doomed, moor -ish way.

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In the film version, the victorious Luddites do not stop here to buy a takeaway

I m taking pictures in a post-industrial estate in the rain. I noticed a sign on a gap site LUDDITE INDUSTRIAL ESTATE which I wanted to photograph  for a pitch for a future sit com. I get distracted by the River Spen, which would be the only protagonist remaining from the Luddite story ( the mill having long disappeared under a string of development opportunities).IMG_20170911_111719355

I am trying to find an appropriate portrait shot, when I am hailed by a friendly local. She wants to bemoan the loss of wildlife and greenspace behind the hoardings and bulldozers of the LIE (Ok thats not actually their acronym.).IMG_20170911_111906434

Its on a flood plain and there are loads of empty units in Hathersedge anyway. (this I can vouch for having driven around most of them on the trail to the Luddite statue)

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This is a heroic representation of an angry desperate man wielding what  I imagine is a frame over his head, in a pose not unlike Liberty vaulting the barricades, but watched by a despondent looking urchin.  This is the twist for the Spen Valley Civic Society – get the kiddies on your side. The interpretative panel contains lots of stuff about the hardships of Victorian life which would make it feel OK for your dad to go out and trash the local workshop.

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The SVCS have an angle . Their park is basically a roadside triangle between a main road along the hogsback and a well used rat run down an abandoned high street. Like everywhere else  I went in Spen Valley there is a constant stream of traffic and sense of amorphousness as all the ribbons link up. The SVCS are protesting against the submergence of their place by re-signing  LIVERSEDGE -rebranded,as Luddite heritage site -right opposite the old town hall, which has been converted into anonymous flats.

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I go to take a picture of the inn where the Luddites met. For a secret organisation they seem to have got out a lot.

One of the things I was finally able to do once released from learning the Latin names of beetles at Uni was to read The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson, which looked like it would be the best book ever. I have kept my copy and it still does the job.  It contains the Luddites, and much other English history besides, but it contains it in such a way that it feels like a weapon of sorts in an argument I expected to have.  On the cover is a etching of a man in Victorian working clothes  smoking a clay pipe and wearing an enigmatic expression.   The illustration is to show his costume, but also just about shows an early steam train, as a sign of contemporaneousness.

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Thompson is making a case for how Marxists should do history,  that it is relevant that they should do history, how Marxists can be Marxists , and how history might have been. This is contained in a (relatively) famous sentence in the preface..

I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the ‘obselete’ handloom weaver, the ‘utopian’artisan and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity.. they lived through these times of acute social disturbance and we did not.  Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience.. (p13)

The Luddites for Thompson, were conducting a protean industrial dispute by various means through trial and error. This dispute about working conditions roamed into ownership of the means of production, terrorism against democratic means, class consciousness against local loyalties and was conducted through a culture which only occasionally leaves traces in literate form (although these are perhaps more powerful as a result).

I was at yor hoose last neet, and meyd mysel very comfortable. Ye hey nee family, and yor just won man on the colliery, I see ye hev a  greet lot of rooms, and big cellars, and plenty wine and beer in them, which I got ma share on. Noo I naw some at the colliery that has three or fower lads and lesses, and live in won room not half as gude as yor cellar. I ont pretend to naw very much, but I naw there shudn’t be that much difference. The only place we can gan to o the week ends is the yel hoose and hev a pint. I dinna pretend to be a profit, but I naw this, and lots o  me marrows na te, that wer not tret as we owt to be, and a great filosopher says, to get noledge is ta ken wer ignerent. But weve just begun to find that oot, and ye maisters and owners may luk oot, for yor not gan to get se much o yor own way, wer gan to hev some of wors now (p785, quoting a note left after a strike riot in the Durham coalfields in 1831)

 

Sometimes they were Luddites sometimes they weren’t. At their best they were shadows  – I think of the Trystero in The Crying of Lot 49 (which I revisited for a book group which also mysteriously disappeared at the time of my presentation, leaving me alone in a city centre bar wondering, like Oedipa Mass, if I had imagined the whole thing) . These phantoms could be limited and controlled when turned into concrete forms. Like an uprising, a narrative or a statue.

We all know someone who had thrown their mobile phone into the sea, or refused to watch TV (and that does actually include Iplayer) for a few years, and we generally admire them. More difficult examples exist – the person who stopped reading,  the scratcher of cars , teenage purveyors of litter, ‘one man’s freedom fighter..etc’ .  Thompson seems to be saying that this is an experimental tactic rather than a definitive statement, and if we follow him, what we should be pursuing, in a variety of ways  is for a greater control of the means of production.

Id like to imagine what might happen on the Luddite Industrial Park (as I will insist on calling it). One of the scenarios of course is that it may never be finished – the removal or sabotage of pieces of construction equipment hilariously recurring over a number of episodes like a running gag. In other versions the hardworking staff become aware of strange voices and poltergeist activity which turn out to be versions of themselves dressed up in Victorian costume.  Or there is a situation(ist) comedy where the staff realise the true nature of consumer society through a deep interpretative reconquest of the term luddism and decide to make things they actually want instead which turn out to be hugely successful and then recreate the problem all over again ( oh hang on that sounds a bit familiar).

 

To be a Luddite was a part time and secret occupation, and the more social and permanent your  ambition became the greater the risk of discovery (which probably meant death). Thompson makes the point that this happened incredibly rarely- that there was some kind of solidarity or consciousness amongst the outgroups of society ( he would unashamedly call it a class)  which had at least sympathy with it

In the Trystero/W.A.S.T.E network Pynchon could at least imagine a way in which this could still exist in 1960s America..

It was a calculated withdrawal, from the life of the Republic, from its machinery. Whatever else was being denied them out of hate, indifference to the power of their vote,loopholes, simple ignorance, this withdrawal was their own, unpublicized, private. Since they could not have withdrawn into a vacuum (could they?) there had to exist the separate silent, unsuspected world. (p94)

And now? I am drawn to the re to conclusions of  Slavov Zizek to his analysis of the events of 2011 ( Arab spring, anti-capitalism, London riots – seems a lifetime ago)

what Marx concieved of as Communism remained an idealized image of capitalism, capitalism without capitalism, that is , expanded self-reproduction without profit or exploitation. This is why we should return from Marx to Hegel, to Hegel’s “tragic” vision of the social process where no hidden teleology is guiding us, where every intervention is ajump into the unknown, where the result always thwarts our expectation. All we can be certain of is that the existing system cannot reproduce itself indefinitely; whatever will come after will not be “our future”. A new war in the Middle East or an economic chaos or an extraordinary environmental catastrophe can swiftly change the basic coordinates of our predicament. We should fully accept this openness, guding ourselves on nothing more than ambiguous signs from the future ( The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, pp134-5)

 

I have blogged already about the post-capitalist thinking of Paul Mason and Wolfgang Streek. I was in Yorkshire for a conference of psychogeographers, whose wanderings seemed very in touch with a situationist spirit of going off message. Phil Smith‘s address to Congress suggested

Through the political spasms of the last year, clumsy expressions of deep rhythms of change, a new kind of Spectacle is emerging from its old ‘integrated’ form into a new meshwork of ‘post-truths’. ..We need to detourn the spectacle.. We need to protect the hidden part of ourselves from the brightness of the spectacle

Phil talks pretty fast and my ability to make notes is not as good as it was. Yet it seems that like our Luddite ancestors the tactics and focus of resistance is provisional and varied . That we are in search of some sort of commonality and universality which still has a strong personal meaning.   And which is always quickly being pulled away again as it becomes processed to become part of the  Spectacle . There will not be one  way to answer this dilemna – there will be a search for the thing that Walter Benjamin suggests can flash up at a moment of danger to guide us (Theses on the Philosophy of History , 6) .

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Watching out for the Luddites coming over the Hill, Liversedge, September 2017

 

  • you’d think really there would have been a punk band called The Luddites. I was actually convinced there had been and looked them up. I found a link to a vanity side project by Rick Astley .. ( Rick ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ Astley ! ).  Never have the thoughts of Guy Debord looked more prophetic..  Anyway in case you dont know (and  indeed care) the title quotes The Damned’s 1979 anthem ‘Smash it up’