Cultural Terrorism: Poetic Potential for Subversion

  • Posted on: 6 July 2017
  • By: thecollective

from https://radicalartreview.com/2017/07/06/cultural-terrorism-poetic-potent...

By Julian Langer

“Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs” Guy Debord

In The Revolution of Everyday Life, Raoul Vaneigem stated that human beings are in a state of creativity 24 hours a day, but freedom of choice has been lost; that spontaneity is the true mode of creativity, and true artists of the future will create new situations. “Poetry” claims Vaneigem, “is an act which engenders new realities; it is the fulfilment of radical theory, the revolutionary act par excellence”.

The loss of freedom of choice within neo-liberal capitalist civilisation is abundantly obvious. Political choices are reduced to 1 party or the other, while the Ed Sheeran effect dominates the market of available music: songs that simply repeat the same sound of the last hit, as a mass-produced vacuum-packed injection of notes, drums and vocals.

Does the Leftist/revolutionary movement Vaneigem was involved in, the Situationist Internationalists, hold any relevance for our contemporary post-modern British society (whatever that may mean)?

Situationism was a huge influence on the early punk milieu in the late 1970s in Britain, with its rejection of the boredoms and restrictions of the age. But punk too has largely been reduced to a mass production line of commodified unfashion, of songs that largely sound exactly the same.

The Situationists also influenced the events that took place in 1968 Paris. Volatile civil unrest led to a legislative election, seeing the Gaulist UDR party taking power, with the leftist parties failing due to their passivity. The British anarchist group, The Angry Brigade, inspired by the Situationists, launched a bombing campaign between 1970 and 1972 that targeted banks, Tory party MPs and embassies, as acts of property damage (though one person was slightly injured during the campaign).

But we are no longer living in the late 1960s or early 1970s, nor are we living in France in 1799. As I type this I am in the English countryside, in 2017, and I am assuming that most of the people reading this piece will also be living in Britain in the late 2010s.

I am going to assume that you, like me, are living in a near totally different world to those times: one with far more surveillance; technology and cultural conditioning; more effective weaponry for the police and army and less for the revolutionaries. A vastly different socio-economic-political landscape is in place, dominated by the neo-liberal postmodern cultural narrative for as long as many of the people reading this will be able to remember.

So is this(/the) Leftist/revolutionary project really relevant or applicable to our current historical conditions?

We’ve seen the failures of the Occupy movement; Anonymous; Arab Spring; of the Sanders and Corbyn revolutions and others over recent years. We know the history of Communist dictatorships and the genocides and ecocides they commit; so maybe it isn’t a project for contemporary radicals.

But maybe we can learn from it.

One of main methods of the Situationist project is the Dérive. In Theory of the Dérive, Guy Debord explained the Dérive as a technique of rapid passages through varied ambiences, involving playful-constructive behaviour and awareness of psychogeographical effects.

This involves, for the Situationists, a point of departure from the spatial field (part of the Unitary Urbanist Project – the project before their focus turned to what Debord called Society of the Spectacle, his seminal text). This can deploy détournement – subversive Situationist pranks – a practice that developed into the now well Established practice of culture jamming. Examples of this which can be considered Dérive techniques are parkour, flash mobs and free hugs actions.

After the Manchester terrorist attack, Backtash Noori’s free hugs action struck a particularly tangible chord with many of us.

Could this be because, as we become culturally and psychically immersed in what sociologist and postmodern philosopher Baudrillard termed the simulation of hyper-reality, with the news becoming more and more like green screen films we long for something as tangible and immediate as the touch of another’s embrace?

Perhaps it is a romantic notion, but equally perhaps not! Maybe, the immediate, the intimate, is our best means as radicals of creative approach and political attack.

Post-left anarchist and post-Situationist philosopher Peter Lamborn Wilson, also known as Hakim Bey, wrote about a type of project he call the Immediatist project, in his 1994 book by Immediatism.

Hakim_Bey_painted_portrait_DDC_3021

This is, as the name suggest, an art project based on the creation of immediate situations and T.A.Z.s (Temporary Autonomous Zones) for radicals to subvert our contemporary cultural narratives and dogmas. In his book The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism, Wilson describes a type of activity he later describes as an Immediatist activity as (surprise surprise) Poetic Terrorism (shocking I know). Wilson describes Poetic Terrorism as –

“WEIRD DANCING IN ALL-NIGHT computer-banking lobbies. Unauthorized pyrotechnic displays. Land-art, earth-works as bizarre alien artifacts strewn in State Parks. Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist objects. Kidnap someone & make them happy. Pick someone at random & convince them they’re the heir to an enormous, useless & amazing fortune–say 5000 square miles of Antarctica, or an aging circus elephant, or an orphanage in Bombay, or a collection of alchemical mss. Later they will come to realize that for a few moments they believed in something extraordinary, & will perhaps be driven as a result to seek out some more intense mode of existence.”

and states that –

“The audience reaction or aesthetic-shock produced by PT ought to be at least as strong as the emotion of terror– powerful disgust, sexual arousal, superstitious awe, sudden intuitive breakthrough, dada-esque angst–no matter whether the PT is aimed at one person or many, no matter whether it is “signed” or anonymous, if it does not change someone’s life (aside from the artist) it fails.”

Perhaps Immediatism and Poetic Terrorism could be a potential means of radical art projects challenging this culture. And perhaps not.

Noori’s simple acts though, admittedly through the medium of a cultural spectacle, touched many of us who only encountered his action through screens. I can only imagine how it would’ve impacted those he created an immediate affect in. Within the hyper-real spectacle/simulation, and given the failings of the Leftist/revolutionary project, this may be a tangible means radical action through art.

“Only the dead are truly smart, truly cool. Nothing touches them. While I live, however, I side with bumbling suffering crooked life, with anger rather than boredom, with sweet lust, hunger & carelessness…against the icy avant-guard & its fashionable premonitions of the sepulcher. ”
― Hakim Bey

I personally play various Dérive games whenever possible and write about these types of Situationist and post-Situationist mediums, as a means of psychic rewilding, in my book Feral Consciousness, and believe they hold immense value as a means of disrupting the everyday normality of this culture. So I invite you to play and create, should you wish to try.

“If love is under siege, it is because it threatens the very essence of commercial civilization. Everything is designed to make us forget that love is our most vivid manifestation and the most common power of life that is in us. Shouldn’t we wonder how the lights that glimmer in the eye can blow a fuse for a time, even as barriers of oppression break and jam our passions? Yet despite a life stunted and distorted by mediated Spectacle, nothing has ever managed to strip love of its primal force. Although the heart’s music fails to overwhelm the cacophony of profit efficiency, bit by bit it composes our destinies, according to tones, chords, and dissonances which render us happy if only we learn to harmonize the scattered notes that string emotions together.” Raoul Vaneigem

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Comments

I stopped reading at "situationism". If the author reveals such a miniscule understanding of the topic they are writing about, I can't be bothered to take them seriously.

But situationism was influential on early punk. Less so than the S.I.

Poser immitations of the S.I. = situationism

Also the post-situationists were plenty awful. Really a bunch of college kids that decided to go all wacky with their theories. Today, the situationismists are like Ad Busters and Crimethinc. Really really bad interpretations taken to the level of farce.

Given the context and how the piece reads it seems pretty clear the author is using "situationism" to refer to the S.I.

Can we also stop using the same tired French words to mystify shit? Derive is either a word for your asshole or for walking around....you know, drifting around, like that fucking song about being a midnight drifter...that's that shit. Any hobo does it. It isn't a big fucking deal. Stop trying to make things seem like only artists can understand it. It is the artist reification of juvenile delinquent behavior rather than radicalism.

it is natural for us to crave situation-induced actualization. Our Western society is suffocating us by always insisting on intention-driven actions [as often advocated in this forum].

We have put 'intention drive actions' [genetics] into an unnatural primacy over situation-induced actualization [epigenetics]. Meanwhile, the world of modern physics is an epigenetic-genetic nonduality.

anti-deterministic liberation is what is sought after in the derive.

Lamarck also used French words and English speakers, arrogant bastards that many of 'us' English speakers are, never bothered to translate his works into English. Modern research is finding out that 'he was right' e.g. see Eva Jablonka; 'Epigenetics in Evolution'

In nature, epigenetics [situation-induced actualization] is in a natural primacy over 'genetics' [intention-driven genetic agency], but Western society and Western science have got things upside down and that is why our standard social organization is by way of intention-driven genetic agency where our behaviours are all aimed at determining some or other pre-specified 'result'.

Situation-induced actualization [epigenetics] feels so much better and more natural. Epigenetic influence is relational influence and it is non-local, non-visible and non-material so when other people [voyeur observers] see you letting your actions be situationally inductively actualized, they will think that your actions are being driven by your intentions and your genetic agency, ... but they will be wrong. psychogeographical inductive actualizing influence is orchestrating and shaping your behaviour. That is our natural mode of behaving. we love to explore and to let the new unfolding situation transform our lives.

so, epigenetic influence is physically real although no one can tune into it while they are putting their intentions into an unnatural primacy over the inductive actualizing influence of the unfolding situation.

the derive is just an exercise in 'anti-deterministic liberation' to revitalize our sensitivity to natural situation-induced actualization.

We have put 'intention drive actions' [genetics] into an unnatural primacy over situation-induced actualization [epigenetics]. Meanwhile, the world of modern physics is an epigenetic-genetic nonduality.

it is natural for us to crave situation-induced actualization. Our Western society is suffocating us by always insisting on intention-driven actions [as often advocated in this forum].

Lamarck also used French words and English speakers, arrogant bastards that many of 'us' English speakers are, never bothered to translate his works into English. Modern research is finding out that 'he was right' e.g. see Eva Jablonka; 'Epigenetics in Evolution'

anti-deterministic liberation is what is sought after in the derive.

Situation-induced actualization [epigenetics] feels so much better and more natural. Epigenetic influence is relational influence and it is non-local, non-visible and non-material so when other people [voyeur observers] see you letting your actions be situationally inductively actualized, they will think that your actions are being driven by your intentions and your genetic agency, ... but they will be wrong. psychogeographical inductive actualizing influence is orchestrating and shaping your behaviour. That is our natural mode of behaving. we love to explore and to let the new unfolding situation transform our lives.

In nature, epigenetics [situation-induced actualization] is in a natural primacy over 'genetics' [intention-driven genetic agency], but Western society and Western science have got things upside down and that is why our standard social organization is by way of intention-driven genetic agency where our behaviours are all aimed at determining some or other pre-specified 'result'.

the derive is just an exercise in 'anti-deterministic liberation' to revitalize our sensitivity to natural situation-induced actualization.

so, epigenetic influence is physically real although no one can tune into it while they are putting their intentions into an unnatural primacy over the inductive actualizing influence of the unfolding situation.

This would be your thing though, stuff hobos do > " Burglarize houses but instead of stealing, leave Poetic-Terrorist objects." You'd go inside and leave a huge steaming merde on the dining table, then quietly leave. Merde is another tired French word which means shit.

"Any hobo does it."

TOTAL FAIL.

Nope. You've got nothing, so go ahead and try to show me how you know what makes it better/different/more interesting then drifting about.

Hobos don't do it. Mostly hobos have no aesthetic except hot junk food, tobacco, a warm bed and alcohol, the crassist external desires of the capitalists. There may be a few, 1 in a 100, who have some aesthetic which relates to an internal perfection of a form of life, these are the true nomadic autonomous ones.

Eh, you are both wrong and stupid. Hobo's drift all over the place. These aren't "homeless" anybodies. By definition, a hobo is a wanderer.

Nope, a nomad is a wanderer with a traditional cultural geography. A hobo is an outcast of the capitalist society. A saunterer is a nomad is a wanderer because they are on a purposeful journey. As I described in my preceding post, there ARE a few hobos who could be called nomadic or saunterers of a kind because they are on a journey to discover something either as existentialists or spirit hunters, but one would not call them hobos then, and they would most likely travel alone, because they would avoid those enclaves under bridges of groups of the wrecks and degenerated specimens of humanity that collect and consume alcohol and complain about their own stubborn ignorance to not let go and undertake a saunterering into the wider existent. I have met these hobos and find them to be begging and depressing types, very boring. I gave them cigarettes and some small cash, as much as charity is not in my ethical pocket.

Nothing you said is a contradiction of my point. A hobo is a wanderer, a situationist is a pro-juvenile delinquent poser and people walk around. Grand Theft Auto is the recuperation of the drift anyway. I find it funny that you are trying to pose a contradiction, is this in aesthetics? In what is more grand a way to express our walk abouts? Getting hammered and throwing shit through windows is an excellent use of time. Graffiti is awesome. Awesome graffiti that makes fun of shit is even better. Behold! The S.I. in all its glory!

May I interject into this thread, but as much as I loath LeWay and his facetious manner, and since I represent the Anarcho-Nihilist Hoboist milieu, I would have to reluctantly agree with him, hobos are mostly willing victims and apolitical and non-creative on the whole. I no longer associate with them, my brief time trying to unite them failed miserably, and it was merely a social experiment I undertook to explore their underground existence, which ended up being mediocre and tedious, not the radical vibrant source of insurgent creative rage which I was hoping for. Just as Debord covered a book with sandpaper so it would destroy all other narratives it was placed beside, one should make a million overcoats of course sandpaper and distribute them among the hobos of the world.

The anartist has a parallel theory concerning the creative potentiality of all people. This energy can be directed into different modes of action, I believe the Situationists still retained remnants of a Post-Marxist ressentiment as evident in their detournement method of parody as propaganda against capitalism, and that this shallow exploitation of masse psychic awareness as an antithesis marks it as a dualistic response to pressure. Anartists on the other hand are viewing the spectacle from OUTSIDE the arena of negative/positive binary creative potentiality, the anartist becomes the work of art and is not concerned with an outward projection of any creation, but to be that living creation, not as "homo sapien ", but as " homo in creatio ex nihilo ".

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