of Vibrating Bodies
- Paula Cobo-Guevara
Straub-Huillet's short film: Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice, (1977).
A group of nine bodies recited Mallarme's “A Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance" while seated in Paris's Pere Lachaise cemetery in a soft and small grass slope where the last Communards and pétroleuses, where executed –after resisting behind the barricades of the Paris Commune, for 30 days–
“A fluctuating condition never wants to live in a single dimension in the same culture in a single voice so capable of outlining other geography’s new multitudes.”(1)
“I was interested about the subjective process of revolution, when you’re doing something radical like talking, writing, rioting, etc... But I noticed when doing this thing, it puzzled me that very few people have ever written about that… [The multitude repeats:] I was interested about the subjective process of revolution, when you’re doing something radical like talking, writing, rioting, etc... But I noticed when doing this thing, it puzzled me that very few people have ever written about that…” (Kenn Knabb and the many other voices coming from the Occupy Oakland Human Mic, Oscar Grant Plaza, October 21st, 2011)
2011: the year of the open Agora, the expressive street, the reverberating body. The year of insurrectionary noise, the fluorescent barricade, the Europa destituyente, the emancipated student, the Cairo tweets. The year of subjective flows: lxs estudiantes, the indebted, the homeless, the immolator, the indignados, the rioters, the 99%, the communers, the subaltern, the precarious. A vast year vibrating with the song of the many voices. The lotta of the whatever; molecular ‘us’.
“Some people say that social turmoil in the United States during the ’60s or in France ‘68 was a spontaneous event — transitory, marginal — and that such utopian revolution leads nowhere. But in my opinion, important things began only after that revolution, which perhaps was the last revolution in the old style. Molecular revolution develops in relatively unknown areas.”(2)
In 2011 I had the experience of crossing through some of these textures and territories: from the student movement in Chile to Occupy in the Bay Area of California, and the unfolding of post-15M in Spain. Through the corridors of these barricades, the need to practice a radical experimentation with our bodies and precarious life conditions became manifest. Certainly, these moments and events do not only relate to the plaza or the occupied spaces. Movements and struggles can compose pleasure, desire, images, and new forms of collective subjectivities and perceptions, opening up lines of possibility and flight to/ and for others, beyond the plazas and squares. These circuits, composed of many voices, are a way of developing collective technologies of affective and political enunciation, in vibration, resonance, and complicity with other machines (voices & songs): assembling the a/effects of those first ‘love’ vibrations of the multitude in our bodies across time.
Molecular dérive: Drifting Nearby a Schizo Cartographic Methodology and Praxis (3)
Molecular dérive is the name of an action-research project that I conducted in the affective territory (4) of the Oakland Commune; generally known as Occupy Oakland, #OO. It intends to trace and weave the discursive, subjective, and political enunciations that took form during and after the events of 2011. This action-research departs from readings of the work of therapist, post-structuralist writer, and activist Felix Guattari, specifically his work on molecular revolutions. The action-research is (inter)subjective, as it speaks from my ‘own’ singular condition as a precarious body crossing through this psycho-geographical, affective, and political landscape; all the while interacting, moving, producing with others. However, this ‘crossing through’ intends to draw lines of entailment, materialities, and tensions; of possible reterritorializations.
Flowing and crossing are verbs which Capitalism wants us to be subjected to: a body which is always crossing is a tired body, a body which is not always able to compose, to materialize, to build strong political and affective ties. It is a body that builds and learns through bits and fragments. The body is partly consumed in the action of crossing: crossing nation states, gender, work, etc. Crossing is precisely that ‘flexibility’ which Capitalism loves so much. However, crossings can be productively subverted: they can become a way of producing knowledge based on diverse body movements such as proximity, resonance, distance, fluidity, encounter/discounter.
Walking. Moving. Asking. Talking. Mapping as we walk.
There is no way to predict the forces and movements unfolded while walking. Walk and fall, walk and encounter, walk and think. Look into the world lying down on the floor. Perception shifts. Walking, I found a small zine with a text by Ursula K. Le Guin, I partially evoke her words, in a state of dis-memory I faultily quote and intervene in her words: Miss Ana Serebyakova, dancer of the ballet “Autumn Song” moves her body like a compendium of notes, a libretto of an Orphan opera, lacking a score. Miss Ana Serebyakova and ‘myself’, dance (and walk) projecting lines – unstable in their traces – but at the same time desiring to run away from the schizoid line of drift. The only implausible fact of walking is the possibility of being present. Walking resembles an improvised counter choreography; moving-away, getting lost, wandering off, approximations, verges, moving into something, someone. Stand up. Perhaps emulate someone’s walk, follow someone. There’s no way to predict what flows of thought and affect will emerge from the body-movement and/or an encounter: the emotional, rational, and mental landscape will articulate the logic and enunciations produced.
This mapping reflects an embodied experience; it emerges from the perceptions and sensibilities affecting the body within a territory. Thus, this is an unstable map, fragmentary; the resulting diary elaborates on a singular experience, producing a map not aiming to represent an overall totality, and it is thus without closure. A precarious synthesis of methodologies both political and aesthetic is used to explore the material and existential precarization of life and affects within this territory; or the poetics of new radical modes of subjectivity.
Helke Sander and Suely Rolnik, 1970s. A German feminist filmmaker in Cold War Berlin. A psychoanalyst exiled in Paris, fleeing from the military dictatorship in Brazil. All use techniques of narration, research, and mapping in different territories, intensities, and material registers, ‘knotting’ the molecular texture of feminist singularity as different from, but intertwined with, the molar narratives of history. Sander subverts the ‘feminine diary’ form:
“For [Christa] Wolf and for [Helke] Sander, the diary form is hesitant. It is informed by the asking of questions (rather than by ‘exclamation marks,’ says [Christa] Wolf). The diary-form — as a narrative structure — collects hypotheses and creates fragments — paragraphs or scenes — in which the ideas are tested. For Wolf, the diary is a training, as a means to remain active, to resist the temptation to drift into mere consumption.”(5)
Rolnik (along with Felix Guattari) fragmented the ‘diary’ form to narrate a long journey across Brazil, exploring the articulation between molecular revolutions and molar historical change right after the military dictatorship, including interviews, group discussions, theoretical reflections, and letter exchanges (6): “The cartographer is nourished by the most varied sources, not only written and theoretical, it might be a film, a conversation or a treaty of philosophy. The cartographer as a cannibalist: expropriating, appropriating, devouring, and spawning.”(7) According to this ‘anthropophagic’ logic, I recorded conversations, interviews, soundscapes, and compiled fanzines, communiqués, and a myriad of writings produced from within the events of Oakland. This method of drift based on appropriation might work as an anthropological expropriation with respect to the encounter with an ‘other’, when ‘cartography’ is dogmatically understood as a Eurocentric, colonialist practice. But the narration of a particular voice might also unfold within transversality (Guattari), constructing the fluid story of an experience, undoing not only the authority of ‘the text’ and ‘the author’, but also the authoritarianism of research itself. Here, I place myself in the position of a ‘resonant’ body (Rolnik), open to being transformed, different from the fixed ‘self’ of the researcher who observes an external world and dialogues with an also external, fixed ‘otherness’.
This trembly task would have been impossible without the generosity of Sudie Bloodsaw, Barucha Peller, Joshua Clover, Tsega Center, Emory Douglas, Andrej Grubacic, Marco Jacquemet, Pati Zapatita, and many other encounters along this walking/moving/asking/talking/feeling/mapping dérive.
The second part of this text is a set of fragmented notes which indagate on the tensions regarding questions of identity/collectivity in relationship to the flourishing rhetoric of insurrection unfolded in #OO, and how these should relate to new forms of composition within a movement construction. It also reflects on research and references which are not directly related to #OO, however, they eco and reflect experiences in which affect constitutes a pivotal aspect of political composition.
“Subjectivities came out of this quasi-insurrectional, collective machine moment; subjectivities arised from that. We create out of the experience of being together. We are not so much determined historically. At first we were like: we love each other — it was all about love, but then this little things started to come up, and we had to deal with the reality of how differences interfere with organizing together, and actually having to face that, and its been very difficult to work through that stuff […] All of us had this great nostalgia for those days of the camp — but there wasn’t anything sustainable at the camp, really — so the idea was to recreate this sort of space where we could be together with our radical ideas, and then combine this feeling of trying to reach out beyond.” (Members of the Tsega Center in conversation, Oakland, California, May 14th, 2013)
Straub-Huillet's short film: Every Revolution Is a Throw of the Dice, (1977).
There may be many reasons why we may want to revolt. Sometimes we may want to de-normalize our discourse as subjects, and drift into the intensities of thinking ourselves as bodies. The subject is the great architecture of discourse. We are slums of discourse. The affective condition of our bodies certainly resonates in the way in which we may want to revolt. It may be an articulation of both, as unruly subjects and as fluid bodies. Whatever this dynamic or reason may be, it certainly transits in between a fluidity of affects, passions, desires, images, emotions – anger, resentment or passivity – ‘pathologies’, memory. There may be a polyvocality of reasons. 2011 is important because of that: it was the moment of possibility, of the Open. The ‘monstrous.’ This field of possibility unfolds in a dimension where micro and macro politics meet; not as opposition, or canceling dichotomy, but as fluid and interconnected precisely because our intensities, ‘pathologies’, emotions, desires, and passions are immanently connected to our construction as subjects. Our ‘monstrosity’ appears when we transit, tense, compose, and assemble as unruly subjects and bodies. That is the plausible tension that we can map/trace in the current ‘cycle of movements’.
“The Bay Area is a bit of a bubble, with an activist situation where every single radical, militant or antiauthoritarian wants to move. Once, it used to be San Francisco, and now it is the East Bay [Oakland]. And this has created a particular kind of subculture: which is relatively theoretically sophisticated, and still, much more than the East Coast, splits along these identity lines. As I already mentioned, I think that the greatest obstacle on both coasts, but especially in the Bay Area – which used to be the hub of radical activity – is how to resolve this question of moving out of this ‘split identity’. (Andrej Grubacic in conversation, San Francisco, California, April 27th, 2013)
“Any subject of enunciation follows a logic that cannot be judged, much less disputed. All that we can do with any statement is to accompany the enunciator, place ourselves on the same path as him or her, go in the same direction if we feel like it, or abandon him or her at the first turn and pursue our own route.” (Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Felix Guattari. Thought, Friendship and Visionary Cartography)
According to some descriptions, the Oakland riots and #OO seem to resemble J.G. Ballard’s Millennium People, the science fiction novel about a violent middle-class uprising. However, Oakland is not precisely a middle-class city, but more of a (mostly) black, precarious, industrial port city in the process of gentrification. It is an anti-capitalist neighbor of the liberal San Francisco, with an ex-Maoist, former UC Berkeley student-activist as mayor. This other history (and fluid memory) of Oakland goes back to the Black Panther Party, the 1960s countercultures, the 1970s university students’ movement, the 1980s punk subcultures, and the squat scene. The event of Oakland 2011 is not an isolated irruption, it is part of a new story of political subjectivities formed through practices of occupation within recent years; UC’s struggles and riots against police repression (like the murder of Oscar Grant in 2009: the Occupy ‘Plaza’ was given his name). These struggles were strongly amplified within and after Occupy Oakland.
“This is what we began to call the Oakland Commune; that dense network of new-found affinity and rebelliousness that sliced through seemingly impenetrable social barriers like never before. ‘Our war machine and our care machine’ as one comrade put it.”(8) Some of Oakland’s rebellious subjectivities have unfolded as singularities and collectivities organized around different affective economies: black bloc, queer cells, poets, anarcho-nihilists, queer and transgender groups, sexual workers, communists, anarchists, ‘young warriors’, anti-civilization groups (the new articulation of the eco-anarchist philosophy), and other autonomous groups. However, a multitude of people had participated in Occupy Oakland without any straightforward affinity to ideological or identity politics. In that sense, Occupy – like the rest of the 2011 ‘square revolutions’ – was in general terms a global experiment on how to construct vast territories of ‘radical inclusion’, going beyond previous political subjectivities.(9) The quasi-ontological singularity of Oakland in opposition to the rest of the ‘Occupy wave’ in the US had to do with an amplification of ‘spontaneist practices’ and identity-driven politics, in some cases made visible through a rhetoric and a praxis of ‘insurrection’. The resonance and/or articulation of the imaginaries unfolded by these types of subjectifying forms affect the fields of expression in which struggles are shaped, as well as the subjectivity and praxis of the newly politicized subjects.
“You have this history of demonstrations in street riots that have taken over a mediatized dimension and that makes them very appealing, so you find a lot of young people that just want to participate in it. I guess that this is more of an anthropological observation, but all around the world you have these young warriors (mostly boys), that are finding a particular sort of meaningful existence through this use of violence against the State machine. 20 years of images circulating of May ’68, images of barricades that have created a particular romantization of the entire thing. So if you grew up in the United States and in places like San Francisco where you have this kind of awareness of stories or if you’re just an aware kid, you can go on-line and find these clips from different moments, starting from Seattle ’99 or other moments when you can see violence in action. And I think it is very seductive for a lot of people, so I think still the main reason for why people end up being warriors is like a rhizo-passage where you’re changing yourself in front of the police and dealing with fear and feeling important or meaningful in these kinds of moments.” (Marco Jacquemet in conversation, Berkeley, California, March 7th, 2013)
“It's very poetic the way these things relate to each other, because it has so much to do with what people are reading, what images people are seeing on the internet and things like that. This is a very disperse culture and it has more to do with resonance than any other thing.” (Sudie Bloodsaw in conversation, San Francisco, California, April 20th, 2013)
Thus, avoiding the rhetorical critique of certain specific tactics used by Occupy Oakland, (10) it seems necessary to think about how the relationship between subjectivity and collectivity is articulated in ‘spontaneist practices’ and identity-based political groups.(11) The Italian Post-Operaist philosopher and former Autonomia militant of the 1970s, Paolo Virno, is key for both a non-liberal and non-identitarian discussion about the axis of individual v/s collective, precisely because he sees the collective as something that is not opposed to the individual, but as a field of individuation where ‘my’ singularity is defined by the collective. (12)
“They arrived at the Barnes & Noble at Union Square in small groups on Sunday afternoon, proceeding two and three at a time to the fourth floor, where they browsed among shelves holding books by authors like Jacques Derrida and Martin Heidegger. By 5 o’clock a crowd of more than 100 had gathered. Their purpose: to celebrate the publication of an English translation of a book called The Coming Insurrection, which was written two years ago by an anonymous group of French authors who call themselves the Invisible Committee. More recently, the volume has been at the center of an unusual criminal investigation in France that has become something of a cause célèbre among leftists and civil libertarians... The bookstore event was organized without the knowledge or permission of Barnes & Noble… As a bookstore employee announced to the milling crowd that there was no reading scheduled for that night, a man jumped onto a stage and began loudly reciting the opening words of the book’s recent introduction: ‘Everyone agrees. It’s about to explode.’ A security guard tried to halt the unsanctioned reading, but the man continued for about five minutes, until the police arrived. The crowd, mostly people in their 20s and 30s, including some graduate students, then adjourned, clapping and yelling to East 17th Street. There they formed a rebellious spectacle, crowding into shops and loudly shouting bits of political theory, to the amusement of some onlookers and store employees and the irritation of others.” (13)
One night, two years later, like in an act of underground consumption, I went to the Invisible Committee’s presentation of their book at a local anarchist space in the Bay Area, an event that was part of the book’s presentation in the West Coast. The Committeehad just gained legendary status after Glenn Beck – member of the Tea Party – reviewed The Coming Insurrection on his Fox News TV show. (14) However, this time the act had more of a proximity to a 1968 French students’ intellectual speech in the context of a university classroom than a subversive post-Situationist event. I had to leave earlier in order to start my work at a local art gallery, guarding an On Kawara painting for 10 dollars an hour. That very same day, Osama Bin Laden was shot dead by the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group. It was May 2nd, 2011.
The effects of some insurrectionary images, pretending to avoid the liberal category of the ‘self’, seem to enhance a fetishism of the individual or the ‘individual group’ becoming a ‘self-project’ of ‘radicalness’; detouring into a mystification of the ‘autonomy’ and ‘radicality’ of the militant subject, thus enabling an already ideologically fixed, petrous identity. However, ‘identities’ have also been political technologies, a fluid field of radical experimentation on the possibilities of resistance in order to struggle; like, for example, the ‘Chicana’or the ‘she’. (15) It is precisely in this ‘difference’ – built through the construction of an identity – that we can overcome the political identity of the ‘self’. This means that ‘I’ can overcome my ‘self’ when my horizon opens up to the possibility of encountering with others.
Michel Foucault criticized the ‘Californian cult of the self’, how the idea of ‘the construction of the self’ is generally understood in Californian countercultures in the restricted sense of identity politics (he reflected on this at the time when he was teaching in Berkeley and living in the Bay Area of California.). Following Foucault, identities are socially constructed, and are situated at the center of processes of govermentality through which ‘the self’ mostly models itself rather than being forced to be modeled in the context of societies of control. The self-construction of an identity is thus ambivalent. He assumes the tactical value of a subversive identity being affirmed; at the same time, this might lead to a ‘cult of the self’ which is close to a liberal celebration of individual differences, where “one is supposed to discover one's true self, to separate it from that which might obscure or alienate it.” (16) The construction of a ‘radicalness’ of one’s political subjectivity presupposes a Foucaultian ‘art of existence’, an ongoing process of ‘self-creation’ according to a certain ethics, which is enabled precisely in the encounter with the ‘other’. Following this argument, some of the affective economies within #OO seem to claim fixed, previous political identities when vindicating the ‘uniqueness’ of ‘the insurrectionary gesture’, very close to a modernist, romantic celebration of the radical ‘self’, following a transcendental notion on the role of subjects within a revolutionary process: a problematic that arises when the need for a collective, non-exclusionary moment arrives.
“I think it was really appealing to people in the US, because they didn’t theorize organization necessarily, they theorized this capacity for spontaneous forms of organization in action, in different capacities, that was really appealing to people that didn’t have any form of organization. So that really took off, and this was also a period when there were huge kinds of sabotage and blockades in France, that were very much reminiscent of the eco sabotage period that happened in the US previously, and people were interested in the Tarnac case. It was also an interesting period when there was the first anarchist bombing in a long time in NY; a military recruitment center was bombed by this anarchist.” (Sudie Bloodsaw in conversation, San Francisco, California, April 20th, 2013)
The ambivalence of these types of expressions can also be traced back in ‘aesthetic’ terms to the dialectics implicit in Walter Benjamin’s conception of the ‘aura’: the auratic insurrectionary gesture desires to be an enlightening shock, a performative moment of visibility under the paradigms of ‘uniqueness’ and ‘artisticity’. And the complex articulation of certain ‘insurrectionary gestures’ within the process of constructing a movement is a somehow classic problematic. In a letter to Nanni Balestrini (the avant-garde poet and co-founder of Potere Operaio, mostly known for his book The Unseen, 1987), Toni Negri was hesitant:
“Testimony of a despair époque, a punk constructive realism. Expressive violence... Only one punk fanzine contains more reality than all of Eco’s or Orsenna’s novels... Punk reveals itself as a highly intense moment of realistic and affirmative reality... Realism is the poetics, which doesn’t imitate, but reconstructs the world. [...] A narrative model thus needs to be constructed, and must traverse all the arts, in order to recompose them in the unity of a practical project. I am not sure if the way to be followed is that of great constructive realism or that of punk — desacralizing, antagonistic, and proliferating. Perhaps the latter corresponds better to the absurdity and cruelty of the times in which we live. But there is something else.” (17)
So perhaps the question is how do we construct a field of possibility for composing an immanent space of radical inclusiveness which allows processes of subjectification different from the modernist, romantic conversion of the self on our way to Damascus (a contradictory type of conversion after which we paradoxically affirm our previous singularity), in favor of a care and war machine unfolded into the outside.
mystical persuasiveness are some hard barricades
romantic noise reverberating
altogether fragile and
how to become an iconoclast of the effect of such an event?
Bodies walking fluidly towards
the Port of Oakland. Architecture in autumn.
The missing people. Wells Fargo on fire. A seven-year-old
claiming his right to public health care. Skipping school.
Graffiti extended all over the façades of commerce. The discipline
suspended for a day or two.
The story of a commune facing the North Pacific Ocean.
The precarious black mothers blocked the port —the invisible politics of
Black, red, and pink flags un-erected.
One image-moment of these political compositions was the blockade of the Port of Oakland on November 2nd, 2011. Overflowing previous identities beyond the ‘auratic’ gesture: singularities self-modeled through the vibratile encounter of fluid bodies. Smelling the fear and joy of the other body.
I’m always ready to sing the song of the many.
Resonance, From Elsewhere (18)
“The lyrics in the song have to have the power to evoke, that is, when a phrase is just heard, it is good if it instantly stirs up something. Not necessarily a literal understanding; it could be affective, i.e., that which was said could generate a type of empathy in s/he who listens […] Lyrics are a passage in the song’s time, and in the rhythm: the way in which that poetic meaning is administered produces another new meaning, gradually.”(19)
“Josephine is one of many, a singularity that can only emerge in the multitude, and in the end, she will ‘happily lose herself in the numberless throng of the heroes of our people.’ Josephine is a singer, and the multitude out of which she sings is the mouse folk. Josephine is not a folk singer, she does not sing of the mouse folk, she does not sing about the folk, and she does not sing for the folk either. From out of the multitude, she constitutes an exception. She represents nothing and no one, and nowhere do we find out more about the content or the motives of her singing.”(20)
1. Spit, babble, tongues
Almost three years have passed since the eruption of the #Oakland Commune at #Occupy Oakland. One of the practices that enabled that space of possibility: an active listening to each other, to others, noise-making. Whatever this might be, the fact is that reverberating sounds – murmurs, voices, dialogues, noises – appeared in this new territory. A Bay Area poet (21) talks about rhythms: “a sound has to happen twice to be a rhyme, a rhythm has to happen twice to be a meter, an initial sound has to happen twice to be alliteration.” Alliterations produce phonemes, and phonemes differentiate speech from vocal gestures: moving tongues, slobber, spit. Phonemes are the movements of speech. Since the eruption of the commune facing the North Pacific Ocean – and the broader Occupy Movement in the US – from and within our bodies, we opened ourselves to inhabiting and producing these sounds, vibrations, and voices. Phonemes were significant. In some cases, the motto was 99% or We are not a loan, in other latitudes: Vamos lento por que vamos lejos ,(22) Que pasa, que pasa que no tenemos casa! Sí, se puede! (23) Submarining into this, an ocean of sounds emerged, touched. Discourses circulate and resonate on/in our bodies in certain ways, we feel affected. Political events affect our bodies, drifting in a world of intensities, not only discursive significations; rather, discourse is produced from within those affects.
(Listening is not only a mere cognitive act of deciphering signs, but also involves a flow of signifiers that resonate beyond the intellect.)
2. Schizo ultrasounds
Around twenty ‘loonies’ meet one hot summer afternoon in the lush gardens of the (Public) Neuropsychiatric Hospital of La Borda in Buenos Aires. They have met every Sunday for around 20 years now. We all sit on metallic chairs composing a large circle; we share cigarettes, food, conversation, even kisses. Each of the ‘loonies’ comes to the meeting with ideas they have elaborated throughout the week, some of them are interned at the Hospital, others only come for treatment. All of these diverse voices, bodies, tongues, murmurs, compose the experiment of Radio La Colifata .(24) Radio Colifata is an attempt to break the inside/outside division of the neuropsychiatric hospital. The bodies compose a (counter) choreography of language, semiotic gestures: postures, attitudes, verbal, and non-verbal. Some are potential words, utterances, others straight-forward verbal enunciations. All of these semiotic gestures and sounds transit on a musical dimension; they develop rhythms –with diverse fields of intensity. Sometimes musicality and utterance overlap, weave. Dialogue is not precisely present, but it can crystalize in a specific intensity of gestures. Some of the bodies might react to a specific utterance, a voice tone.
Others might establish a dialogue in body language. However, this scene of Radio Colifata is not just pure flow, flux of bodies, and voiced sensibilities. One important technical aspect that facilitates communication is the radio. The radio enables a dispositif, where we can murmur, shout, or speak; this machine produces articulations, reverberations, with the ‘outside’ (and ‘inside’). We articulate because we want to communicate. Flee from our semiotic, affective isolation. Most of time speech is exercised in private. We are no longer loonies; the radio is a space, a machine that allows us to articulate within a dimension that transits between pure sensation, affect, and communication; legibility. “From the moment that the schizophrenic is in another country, s/he is no longer crazy, it’s a situation in which you don’t know the language, therefore others won’t understand his/her delirium, then, a miracle will occur.”(25) The radio becomes a technique, a form that we can reproduce and repeat, against the monologue of patriarchy, against the monologue of the ‘vertical’ media. The radio is a simple and autonomous form that allows us to resonate with each other, in the most intersubjective way possible. It exposes vulnerability, as it transits across a real space-time. You can listen and at the same time smell the body’s fears, joys, desires, through a sensitive dimension. The radio operates in this two-fold dimension, it communicates ‘machinically’, and it produces bodily, sensorial, and affective resonances. The collective enunciation becomes therapeutic, transformative. The song is composed of many singularities.
3. Lumpen murmurs (26)
L. Iluminada (L. Enlightened) is Lumpérica (27) (‘lumpen woman’, ‘she-lumpen’) a precious singularity among the ‘lumpen proletariat’ (lumperío.) She inhabits the night; lives in a plaza of Santiago de Chile, precariously illuminated by industrial champagñe neon-light advertisements. L. Iluminada is a rara (‘weirdo’). As any rara, she could only possibly do the following: put her head in the gas oven (28), drink bleached water, practice clandestine abortions, tattoo a skull on her left arm, go out onto street, with military boots and a Che Guevara poster; after that; being beaten by carabineros (cops) until bleeding like a river. Waking up, and drifting through the plaza while drinking tres estrellas (cheap red wine) until senseless (29). Like any Lumpen-woman, L.Iluminada is always alone, and can hardly speak. But suddenly she discovers – by the way of the luminosity coming from the projection of the neon-light advertisement onto other bodies that inhabit this same plaza – that she is no longer by herself. Lumpérica murmurs, she inflicts on herself. Why? She is particularly frustrated: she can no longer sustain her self-referentiality as she now needs to unfold ‘herself’ into and with others: share, and take care of. She needs to pass through a deep transformation of her subjectivity. She knows that. Now the Agorabelongs to her, as it belongs to other lumpens. Glowing under the neon lights, her body becomes vibratile, resonant; it trembles with Other(s). Even though L. Iluminada inhabits the plaza (the historic site for men’s public speech), she communicates through murmurs, babbles. She utters in fragments. Her voice is flee-able/feeble. She knows how to expose herself in the public realm only as a sexualized body – only as a worker (she works as a sporadic prostitute) – her political desires still remain intimate. Now she needs to articulate speech. She will unlearn and learn to become a virtuoso of singing songs.
However, L. Enlightened is not hearable, and lacks a clearly precise act of speech; she cannot disclose herself into the open. She sounds across ‘otherness’, in a pre-individual drift, connected to a polyphony of gestures, and affects-murmurs. Her singing does not correlate to the score of power, it operates autonomously.
2. Félix Guattari, Molecular Revolutions,in Chaosophy. Texts and Interviews 1972-1977, Sylvère Lotringer editor, translated by David L. Sweet, Jarred Becker, and Taylor Adkins, (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009), p. 276.
Guattari was addressing the Schizo-Culture Conference organized by Semiotext(e) in November 1975 at Columbia University.
3. Fernando Reberendo, psychologist and therapist, and Lamberto Arévalo, philosopher and theater director, proposes the following definition of squizoanalytical practice: “the practice of schizoanalysis analyzes and investigates forms of enunciation in collective and/or individual bodies; and the effects of these same enunciations upon semiotic and subjective production within a given context. The schizoanalytical proposal is to show the internal landscapes of these systems of enunciation and the preformed subjective structures. Its purpose is to create new coordinates of meaning (and reading), setting new and experimental representations and propositions.” My translation and emphasis.
4. An “affective territory” is the realm where a particular sensibility is shared by the many; “[S]ensibility is the ability to understand what cannot be verbalized… By sensibility, I mean the faculty that enables human beings to interpret signs that are not verbal or can be made so, the ability to understand what cannot be expressed in forms that have a finite syntax.”
Franco “Bifo” Berardi, The Uprising. On Poetry and Finance, (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012), p 143-44.
5. Judith Mayne, “Female Narration, Women’s Cinema: Helke Sander’s The All-Round Reduced Personality/Redupers,” in New German Critique, 24-25, Fall/Winter (1981-82), p. 155, quoting Christa Wolf, “The Reader and the Writer” (1968); my emphasis.
8. “Occupy Oakland is Dead. Long Live the Oakland Commune” was the communiqué of a sector of antagonists within Occupy Oakland. The declaration of the Oakland Commune shows, on the one hand, the diversity of Occupy, the fact that it was not a homogeneous movement in the United States, but that it took different shapes according to local contexts apart from the most popular, globally distributed icon of Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in New York. On the other hand, the communiqué informs us about the difficulties of internal composition and radical inclusion within Occupy Oakland.
See: http://www.bayofrage.com/from-the-bay/occupy-oakland-is-dead/, posted in Bay of Rage, a blog that “emerged in the summer of 2011 in order to disseminate texts and reports written as part of the anti-cut series of demonstrations in downtown Oakland. It has since grown to support other forms of anti-capitalist mobilization in the Bay including recent responses to police killing.”
9. Following the reflections of Gerald Raunig about OWS: “Radical inclusion means here, most of all, establishing an open milieu, in which the right to a place to live is not only demanded for everyone, but also acted out straight away in protest. The tent assemblages, the assemblies, the discussions are already living examples of the radical inclusion and transversality of the movement,”
in “The Molecular Strike,” transversal: #occupy and assemble, November 2011 http://eipcp.net/transversal/1011/raunig/en.
10. For that purpose, see for instance the discussion in early 2012 between Chris Hedges, “Black Bloc: The Cancer in Occupy” (http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/6510:black-bloc-the-cancer-in-occupy)
Susie Cagle, “Activists and Anarchists Speak for Themselves at Occupy Oakland”
Salar Mohandesi, “On the Black Bloc”
11. See for instance the Deleuzian/Guattarian and Agambenian arguments in Edward Avery-Natale’s “‘We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Anarchists.’ The Nature of Identification and Subjectivity Among Black Blocs” (2011)
13. Colin Moynihan, “Liberating Lipsticks and Lattes” in The New York Times, June 15th, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/books/16situation.html?_r=0
14. Glenn Beckreviews The Coming Insurrection on Fox News: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKyi2qNskJc.
15. Here I use the concept of ‘Chicana’ and ‘She’, following Federici’s reflections on identity (and gender). She posits the question: How do we fight against these ‘differences’ without using categories such as gender and race? She answers this question with her own life and struggle experience: “I have reconciled myself to being a woman because I've been involved in the process of transforming what being a woman means. So the idea that somehow gender identities are frozen, immutable, is unjustified. All the philosophical movements of the 20th century have challenged this assumption. The very moment you acknowledge that they are social constructs you also recognise that they can be reconstructed. It will not do to simply ignore them, push them aside and pretend we are ‘nothing’. We liberate ourselves by acknowledging our enslavement because in that recognition are the reasons for our struggle and for uniting and organizing with other people.” We could also think though identity through Rolnik’s concept of ‘vibratileness’: a ‘resonant identity’, not as something essentialist, or immovable, but as a concept open to change, and mutation.
See Marina Vishmidt, “Permanent reproductive crisis: an interview with Silvia Federici” In Mute, March 2013,
16. Michel Foucault, “On the Genealogy of Ethics: An Overview of a Work in Progress,” in Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), p. 271.
19. Rosario Blefari is an Argentinian singer and songwriter. Best known as being lead of the band: Suárez, and Sue Mon Mont. She, among many other creative workers in Argentina, – after the 2001 insurrection and/or neoliberal crisis – started to teach skill-based workshops at her home; she has been teaching a course on how to write lyrics. This excerpt is from one of the abstracts in her talleres (workshops).
Translation by Jean Byrne. Listen to her most recent songs here: https://soundcloud.com/suemonmont
22. Some of the feminist enunciations of the Spanish 15M movement have chanted the slogan “Vamos lento por que vamos lejos” (We go slow, cause we go far) referring to the fact that the revolution would not be as such if it was not a feminist one.
23. Yes we can! is the motto of Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca: PAH is one of the most a flourishing European mass movements throughout Europe able to successfully organize and win the battle against housing evictions within the current ‘austerity crisis’. The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest has just released the book: “Mortgaged Lives: From the housing bubble to the right to housing (2012)” written by Ada Colau and Adriá Alemany (both activists and founders of PAH), translated by Michelle Teran.
See: Journal of Aesthetics & Protest Press, 2014.
24. Radio Colifata is an Argentinian radio station, which broadcasts on the frequency 100.1 MHz in Buenos Aires. It is named after the slang term “Colifato” (crazy lovable.) Radio Colifata is the first radio in the world broadcasting from a neuropsychiatric hospital. It is also the first radio managed by people who are inmates and former inmates at the Borda Hospital. See: http://lacolifata.openware.biz/index.cgi
Listen to the audio file, “máquina de máquinas y las locas” (2013) https://soundcloud.com/derivaesquizo/radio-colifata-m-quina-de-m Radio show excerpts of a visit I made with Panxto Ramas, @mrenau, and José Luis Meriás to Radio Colifata. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2013. Recorded by José Luis Meirás.
26. I constructed this segment ‘Lumpen murmurs’ thinking through Hannah Arendt’s ‘theory of action’ in chapter V of The Human Condition. Arendt states that the unique possibility of appearance in the world – as a human and political entity – is only possible through the power of language. For Arendt, speech is a performative appearance in the world, thus the construction of a political being is immanently connected to his/her capacity to act, and to communicate. However, implicit in these ‘speech acts’, a dynamic of power relations is present: Who are you? Do you know who are you being spoken to? –questions the subject of authority. My aim to put in ‘opposition’ Arendt’s theory on speech with the figure of Lumpérica (murmuring) is to bring forward and think through Bakhtin’s hypothesis on the carnival. Mady Schutzman writes: “According to Bakhtin, words are inhabited with social significance; they do not belong to the speaker alone. Subsequently, understanding is a complex interplay of signs; often what is said is not what is heard, what is intended is not what is comprehended. Communication for Bakhtin happens in, and around, and in spite of, what our rational and practical selves intend.” According to Lazzarato, Arendt’s position “has no room for the concept of the performative because ‘all speech acts’ are ‘social acts’, not just performative ones. All utterances are ‘speech acts’ that engage a ‘social obligation’.
Maurizio Lazzarato’s “Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the utterance”,
Mady Schutzman’s “Guru Clown, or Pedagogy of the Carnavalesque”, https://www.academia.edu/4561398/Guru_Clown_or_Pedagogy_of_the_Carnivalesque
27. Lumpérica (1983) is a fictional-experimental novel by Damiela Eltit, written during the most harsh and repressive periods during the military dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990.) Lumpérica is a pivotal text to understand the complex and rich resistance under the Latin American dictatorships. Eltit, along with other writers, artists, and theorists was part of the Escena de Avanzada, and CADA (Colectivo de Acciones de Arte) which developed creative strategies to resist and compose with the Human Rights movement. I decided to bring Lumpérica into this chapter as it speaks to the complex ‘crisis of language’ under a repressive apparatus – especially with regards to censorship –. It also speaks to the relationship between subaltern, and power; specifically to the role of working class women and resistance.
Damiela Eltit, Lumpérica (1983), (Barcelona: Seix Barral, 1998).
28. Heiner Mueller’s “The Europe of the Woman”(1979) in The Hamlet Machine http://members.efn.org/~dredmond/Hamletmachine.PDF
29. This fragment is based upon a description I wrote in an e-mail correspondence with an American communist poet –of Chilean communist poet, Stella Diaz Varin. It is inspired by Varin’s biographical data. I decided to interweave L.Iluminada’s character with that of Varin, emulating Eltit’s style of writing, and plot-making: weaving ‘fake’ data, with ‘personal’ memory – a technique used by Eltit, not so much in a ‘conscious way’ – as she would refer to in an interview – but as a subjective state where both real censorship and self-censorship overlapped.