[NetBehaviour] bodies of evidence, and the long reach

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sat Nov 14 07:03:57 CET 2015

I don't think drones are wonderful; I think they're a horror. And I also 
think that ISIS is a horror, that negotiations fail with them, that 
brutality is impossible to contain when brutalizers also go willingly to 
their death. Absolutist religion is a disease aid dis/ease to others; the 
result is rectification on one side, the torsion of anguish on the other; 
we shouldn't forget that anguish is always of the differend, lives within 
it. What we dealt with last November (and what we continue to deal with in 
our own work) has only increasingly hardened, corroded, and spread as a 
holy subaltern whose speech is noise and subterranean communiques. So at 
least for me, this work goes on, work which is always already an 
impediment and remains an impediment; the core of the work is impediment 
as if there were, literally no tomorrow. That's what emerged, at least for 
me, from the empyre discussion, and continues to in-form me. Johannes and 
I talked about doing another but very related book, asking for empyre 
participants and others to write as they wrote on or around the list, and 
gathering this material - for me it would be a necessary phenomenology of 
anguish (I'm thinking of the anguish underlying, say, Adorno among others 
which forms almost a contamination of the philosophical). So there it is, 
and after Johannes wrote the below, Paris happened again - as if stating 
that a city "happens" somehow is already and brutally understood. I'm 
curious to know if anyone would be interested in working on such a book, 
now, forgetting even publishers, thinking of a gathering, of what happens 
at a certain and very problematic/brutal limit - not in terms of the 
politics themselves (but none of this can be separated or disassociated 
from the politics), but of the interiority of being human, cultural, the 
interiority of belonging as well. I'm not being clear here, but anyone 
contributing of course could contradict this, point to other witnessings - 
everywhere now selves are at stake, as they have always been.

This is an comment in relation to what Johannes below wrote, and perhaps 
something would come out of what might be seen as our good wishes.

- Alan

On Fri, 13 Nov 2015, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> Some of you probably remember that last winter Alan Sondheim and I moderated an online discussion on ISIS and terror & performance,
> (empyre list), and some of it may have spilled over here or you were of course aware of the worsening of the situation in Syria and Iraq.
> The discussion, I think, also of course also hit closer to home when we ponder what terror means to us, or how we think it and what our
> histories and political affiliations or stands are, or have been.
> I remember after the debate last November, Alan and I tried to find a publisher to see whether the raw, emotional, intense yet diversely positioned and often poetic articulations of the participants
> could be published, but we had no luck. Earlier this year I tried to write again about terror, ISIS, masks,  and also confront what may be my own phantasms or prejudices towards militant Islam and also towards
> Western states and their necropolitics, and I grappled  to understand a little bit better what state formation might mean for those fighting on the ground in the middle east.
> Driving on the motorway today, listening to BBC2, i was baffled when a fundraiser for "Children in Need" was interrupted by the DJ who brought news from US killing, by drone, of presumably
> one of the men on the videos released by ISIS, the presumed "Jihadi John"; the person assumed to be this man pulverized by the drone rocket (including all those in the car). Strangely, I then had to listen
> to the british prime minister praising the US commando strike and also saying - referring to the Islamic State as an ?evil terrorist death cult" ? that "Mr Emwazi is a barbaric murderer. This "will be a strike at the heart of ISIL,
> and it will demonstrate to those who would do Britain, our people and our allies harm we have a long reach, we have unwavering determination and we never forget about our citizens.?
> After returning to Children in Need, then the radio host comes back with a brief interview with a fellow worker and friend of one of the kidnapped victims of ISIS, who argued that he would have prefered the british
> government to help when they could've sought to press for the hostage's release, as other countries had done; that the prime minister's hypocrisy is repulsive, and that he also would "have prefered Mr Emwazi to have been brought to justice."
> I was relieved to hear a worker bring up this idea of justice, and the political processes of negotiations that may precede drone strikes. In any case, I was feeling sick when all this surfaced on the radio. I wonder how this
> played out in the US or in the Middle East, in Raqqa, or other towns in the region. (A commentator on the radio, and there always are 'experts' to be found quickly, it seems, claimed to be a professor at the "Institute of Radicalization
> &  Political Violence," Kings College, and thought the strike was great, and the drones are wonderful as their permanent presence over the heads of peoples there instills fear)
> Johannes
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