Filed under: chronotopes, departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: demonstrations, John Berger, revolution, spectacle
What good is it to speak out, much less demonstrate: things won’t change, the world is too big and the issues too complicated. Underlying this common argument is rank conservatism masquerading as enlightened rationalism and common sense. You have to plan and speak if you want change.
Demonstrations are rehearsals for eventual revolution; if the element of rehearsal is missing, it’s probably not a real revolution but merely a spectacle. Think, act, speak, live.
The truth is that mass demonstrations are rehearsals for revolution: not strategic or even tactical ones, but rehearsals of revolutionary awareness. The delay between the rehearsals and the real performance may be very long: their quality – the intensity of rehearsed awareness – may, on different occasions, vary considerably: but any demonstration which lacks this element of rehearsal is better described as an officially encouraged public spectacle.
A demonstration, however much spontaneity it may contain, is a created event which arbitrarily separates itself from ordinary life. Its value is the result of its artificiality, for therein lies its prophetic, rehearsing possibilities.
A mass demonstration distinguishes itself from other mass crowds because it congregates in public to create its function, instead of forming in response to one: in this, it differs from any assembly of workers within their place of work – even when strike action is involved – or from any crowd of spectators. It is an assembly which challenges what is given by the mere fact of its coming together.
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations, John Berger
Filed under: chronotopes | Tags: family, industrial revolution, Justin E. H. Smith, Lapham's Quarterly, work, Working Arrangement
photo: Douglas Adesco
Family values derive logically from the Industrial Revolution which own values were to procure labour, with transportation to the place of work, with domestic arrangements (and the assumption of the nurture that may give). That may be the only concession to the pre revolution world social networks and entanglements: a dim, all but extinguished sign of what may have existed as a rich set of social realities.
The nuclear family is a recent invention. As an arrangement that, ideally, isolates a man, woman, and a few children within a single, economically autonomous domestic unit, with only casual or symbolic ties to friends and extended family, it does not seem to predate the Industrial Revolution and the rapid urbanization that followed it. Indeed, the expectation that everyone should find a place in such an arrangement appears to be Fordist in origin: the same vision of the future that caused us to believe that everyone might have a place in a system of production, might commute to it in an automobile, and might return home at the end of the day to a freestanding domicile with a family inside.
Working Arrangement, Justin E. H. Smith, Lapham’s Quarterly
Tricks and dodges and law used by the rich to make society in their image and to use the poor to do it, when, in another way there is more than enough to go around.
“…when I consider any social system that prevails in the modern world, I can’t, so help me God, see it as anything but a conspiracy of the rich to advance their own interests under the pretext of organizing society. They think up all sorts of tricks and dodges, first for keeping safe their ill-gotten gains, and then for exploiting the poor by buying their labour as cheaply as possible. Once the rich have decided that these tricks and dodges shall be officially recognized by society – which includes the poor as well as the rich – they acquire the force of law. Thus an unscrupulous minority is led by its insatiable greed to monopolize what would have been enough to supply the needs of the whole population…”
Thomas More, Utopia, 1516
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes | Tags: Are You Lost?, Moby, Steve Cutts
Filed under: chronotopes, departure lounge | Tags: Either/Or, Soren Kierkegaard, the end of the world
A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.
Søren Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Part I
Filed under: chronotopes, departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: justice, Pericles
Here is real democracy, vague and far off, and in retreat. We have the few, the creative class; real democracy favours the many. We have the coalition of the ascendant where advancement is kept for a select class; real democracy cares not for class. We have funding by ‘political action’; real democracy removes the poverty obstacle.
The administration of Athens favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy.
If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their private differences; if there is no social standing, advancement in public life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being allowed to interfere with merit.
Nor again does poverty bar the way, if a man is able to serve the state, he is never hindered by the obscurity of his condition.
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes, departure lounge, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: England, europe, germany, New England, power, witch
Western Alps: worker of magic, lurid orgies
Germany: flying witches, always a woman, wicked, lone female, wicked thoughts, satanic, dangerous, insatiable, commanding.
England: blood compact with the Devil, marked bodily, enchanter using charms, ointments and effigies.
The continent: hand walker, rode hyenas, attended forest bacchanals, stole babies and penises, extended pregnancies.
Scandanavia and Scotland: flying witches
Massachusetts: general mischief involving cattle, letters, hay and beer, witty and could either be diminutive or strong.
Witchy qualities / adjectives are established by clergy and authorities who were terribly threatened. Each adjective is a restatement – and a mask – of a root female quality that challenged the authority’s power. The root qualities are perennial through centuries: joy, curiosity, yearning, abandon etc.
What exactly was a witch? Any seventeenth-century New Englander could have told you. As workers of magic, witches and wizards extend as far back as recorded history. The witch as Salem conceived her materialized in the thirteenth century, when sorcery and heresy moved closer together. She came into her own with the Inquisition, as a popular myth yielded to a popular madness. The western Alps introduced her to lurid orgies. Germany launched her into the air. As the magician molted into the witch, she also became predominately female, inherently more wicked and more susceptible to satanic overtures. An influential fifteenth-century text compressed a shelf of classical sources to make its point: “When a woman thinks alone, she thinks evil.” As is often the case with questions of women and power, elucidations here verged on the paranormal. Though weak willed, women could emerge as dangerously, insatiably commanding.
The English witch made the trip to North America largely intact. She signed her agreement with the Devil in blood, bore a mark on her body for her compact, and enchanted by way of charms, ointments, and poppets, doll-like effigies. Continental witches had more fun. They walked on their hands. They made pregnancies last for three years. They rode hyenas to bacchanals deep in the forest. They stole babies and penises. The Massachusetts witch disordered the barn and the kitchen. She seldom flew to illicit meetings, more common in Scandinavia and Scotland. Instead, she divined the contents of an unopened letter, spun suspiciously fine linen, survived falls down stairs, tipped hay from wagons, enchanted beer, or caused cattle to leap four feet off the ground. Witches could be muttering, contentious malcontents or inexplicably strong and unaccountably smart. They could commit the capital offense of having more wit than their neighbors, as a minister said of the third Massachusetts woman hanged for witchcraft, in 1656.
Matters were murkier when it came to the wily figure with six thousand years of experience, the master of disguise who could cause things to appear and disappear, who knew your secrets and could make you believe things of yourself that were not true. He turned up in New England as a hybrid monkey, man, and rooster, or as a fast-moving turtle. Even Cotton Mather was unsure what language he spoke. He was a pervasive presence, however: the air pulsed with his minions. Typically in Massachusetts, he wore a high-crowned hat, as he had in an earlier Swedish invasion, which Mather documented in his 1689 book. Mather did not mention the brightly colored scarf that the Devil wound around his hat. Like the Swedish devil’s gartered stockings or red beard, it never turned up in New England.
The Witches of Salem, Diabolical doings in a Puritan village, BY STACY SCHIFF