I would be greatly interested to know what people think about any of this. It may be that I conflate everything into a zero nesting a crystal ball auguring nothing at all. I would say, as a final coda, that I am no longer interested in any kind of “avant-garde”, that I believe that that history of rabid visionaries leading the market is absolutely dead to me, and that I wish to conduct my own practices in art making and criticism against the background of a radical culture which wishes to overtake and counteract the dominant culture by confronting it with an image of a comparable completion. Such an art would be variously “negative”, but its main source of positivity would be founded in the effort to make the fact of its own necessary incompletion under current conditions into the most immeasurably thrilling and radical promise and goad. Does that make any sense. Anyway:DH
Kent wonders why UK poets ought not to turn outwards towards the SWP. In my view this has never recently been a question for two reasons. First, because many UK poets are left activists of some kind. As left activists a good number of them will have experienced on different occasions the injurious effect that the party can have on direct struggle. This is not always so. Nor is it an asperity aimed at members of the SWP. Many of us who are not in the party will have friends and comrades who are; in addition, some of us will be in groups which organize alongside party members. But for poets who are also involved in legal and court support, in housing struggles, or who were active around the occupations and students demonstrations, the SWP as an organization will be notable either by virtue of its absence or in consequence of its divisive subordination of the aims of the organizing process to the long term goals of the party. It is question begging to argue that those goals are “the revolution” or the “mass revolutionary party” without making any argument to support that claim besides the claim that this is what the party intends. Does it intend to do this by vitiating direct struggle against capital in the interests of the party? But then how does this conduce to its goals: &c.
Indeed, what the NY Times fails to mention is that Occupy Sandy, along with Doctors Without Borders & several local volunteer organisations, have been not only doing the work of FEMA but of a conspicuously absent American Red Cross. Despite receiving more than $117 million in donations so far, the Red Cross has offered practically no disaster relief to date in the areas of New York & New Jersey devastated by the hurricane. It would probably count as a scandal if it weren’t business as usual — New Yorkers remember well the September 11th fiasco of blood donations left to rot & donated money squandered paying rents for upscale high-rise landlords. The president of Red Cross at that time was forced to resign, nabbing a severance payment of $1.5 million; when current president Gail McGovern goes on national tv to declare ‘I think that we are near flawless so far in this operation’, one can only wonder when her golden parachute is set to deploy.MT
Facebook is loaded with them. At one point I loved Karl Krauss, Adorno’s Minima Moralia, Schlegel. But aphorisms out of context, used as slogans on Facebook, presenting the righteous act or moment, are deadly; they’re inauthentic in the existentialist sense, cut off; they don’t spur to action - they make one feel better under capital, they suture the subject with a thinned-out cleverness, they make it appear as if something actually has been accomplished. The more famous the writer quoted, the better the aphorism appears to be, the name lending false authority to the vapidity of the words. And Facebook’s aphorisms stand for the speed-up of the attention economy; why worry about something if an aphorism seems to sum it up in a few words that slip by, require little thought? The aphorism not only stands in for action; it also stands in for the depth of thought and context necessary for understanding, particularly given the complexities of the world we live in. This isn’t true for all aphorisms, of course, but the short quote, the succinct phrase, gives us pleasure, even when we’re contemplating slaughter, racism, violence, and so forth. At the least, give sources and urls so that one might take some sort of action, instead of nothing more than agreement over the superstructure of word-choice. The use of aphorisms is as well meaning, as meaning is drained by their use of them. We should all wake up in the midst of the battle-field by any other name …