[NetBehaviour] Do we still engage?

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Mon Jun 24 06:29:48 CEST 2013

dear Alan and all

you letter Alan is full of disillusionment, and i understand that, 
and I wondered as well about Suzon Fuks's response and her telling us that she stood still
("Anyone is Free to Do Nothing With The Artist"), Suzon you said you dissolved, I worry about that.

The dissolution o f  the Whole is what Alan's post argued, and his additional critique, I believe,
is directed at everything, including the street, the galleries, the universities and the outside of
universities, the furtherfields, the eyebeams,  and lists like this, – the lack of depth of continuity of discourse of
philosophical or critical reflection – and what TAZ's? i see none, if indeed there is no safe and hallow ground.
but reflection and outrage are happening, Alan, and so is writing, also here on this list, though maybe sparsely,
and those who act out or stand still are part of what Christian Cary, in his book "Strange Rebels: 1979 and the 
Birth of the 21st Century" believes to be a continuous revelation of the actually feeble dominant ideologies
- yes, I agree, neoliberal capitalism is a strange monster, hard to grasp and what does it affect us to do on a local
level of political strategy  –  they are feeble because the crumble and fracture, and underlying needs are sustained,
as you can see all around us in many places where people are upset. These expressions of being upset
are, one could argue, an effect of inquiries that people make about what we are doing here. Regardless of whether
they reread Spinoza or Foucault. Today I met old friends for coffee and we did not mention a single writer on your
list, but others came up, Bohr and Einstein and Hugh Everett's many-worlds interpretation (in quantum mechanics),
and I was not able to follow everything, but got inspired as we discussed randomness and unpredictability for
some time. what i might ask here is what we think 'engagement' ultimately means, and I am sure it means many
different things for different folks. If you ask whether you can find a place to think, then only you can answer
and answer it with the people close to you or in the margins that you described;  i cannot even begin now to speculate on, 
say, where Snowden is and how this can possibly have a good ending. Or whether there is a good ending for any of us. 


From: netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org [netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org] On Behalf Of Alan Sondheim [sondheim at panix.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 7:07 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] Do we still engage?

Hi, just want to add a few things here. A lot of what's being discussed is
political economy, political strategy, and there are narratives that
circulate around these. Philosophy moves above and below; it's a ground-
work of the body and ethos and it's the grand narratives as well: all of
these are shattered. But the inquiry is relevant and asked everywhere -
what are we doing here? I would also ask about institutions - so many of
us in the U.S. operate from none, on the margins; like them I get by with
a little help from my friends, but have no exhibition or publication
structure I can rely on, no institutional collegiality (the last I had was
Eyebeam, and that lasted for six months, ending a year and a half ago). So
the situation places us on the street, whatever we do, without financial
support, without the continuity of discourse that tends towards depth. I'm
not complaining; I also chose this path to some extent. But what then?
That philosophy, political economy, strategies, if they tend towards
depth, have to exist outside any institution or academy altogether; I
think of the Plato etc. as engendering TAZ. So all of this is outside the
gallery structure to some extent. On the other hand, I wander here, I see
just as much corrosion in new media and new media institutions, as I found
in the academy; if the names are different, and the outlets apparently
mobile, there is still canon- and genre-making at work, just as there was
with the Situationists for example, or within Eyebeam, or those gatherings
I've attended this past year. If the academy needs deconstructing - and it
does - so does the alternative institution, the email list, Occupy, all of
is. There's no safe or hallowed ground. The issue then, if there is one at
all (I realize I'm rambling), is - how does one find a place to think, and
to think deeply? And as well - how does one find a site for action?

Places and sites are invisible, almost virtual in their reality; perhaps
the dead are the only real among us.

- Alan

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