[NetBehaviour] bodies of evidence, and the long reach

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Wed Nov 18 18:00:04 CET 2015

dear all
I sense reticence to engage the recent & current terror and that is understandable, and maybe, Alan, we need to think of
what we can do to express thoughts or reactions, here, on such list.
Some one writes somewhere: "Sunday: we wake under blue skies to Nicolas Sarkozy calling for ‘the whole world’ to destroy Isis and demanding a ‘new’ immigration policy, 
as he steps away from a meeting with Hollande. Stern words on the first day of national mourning declared by the president".   Meanwhile French military flies air strikes on
Raqqa, killing people randomly.

and yes, I read that "‘Nous sommes en guerre,"  the political leaders in France say; and in a newspaper in Germany I saw someone complain that the bombing in Lebanon
and the dead there did not receive universal attention or hardly ever do.  The complex scenario in the middle east was addressed, I thought quite pertinently, in a large op ed article in the New York
Times by Olivier Roy, Nov 16,  [ http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/17/opinion/the-attacks-in-paris-reveal-the-strategic-limits-of-isis.html?rref=collection%2Fnewseventcollection%2Fattacks-in-paris&contentCollection=world&action=click&module=NextInCollection&region=Footer&pgtype=article]  which for me revealed some of the devastatingly complicated fractions
in the regions, and who might be pitted against whom or who uses whom for political gain.

Alan you address the anguish, the despair we might feel. But last night I also felt anger once again, how sentimentality or marketing work (the England-France soccer match
with the Wembley stadium halo painted blue white red and everyone standing to sing the Marseillaise like those brave footballers at the super bowl in some desert town in the US
clutching their chest when the US military jet fighters fly over). So when will sports and celebrity cultures and artists clutch their chests under drones and a guerre that reaches everywhere?
and when it does reach anywhere, then what does that mean?


From: Johannes Birringer
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2015 5:18 PM

I just found your response, Alan, and it is Monday and the shock has not subsided,
but I also realize what point is there to speak or mention one's shockedness or anguish
and yet one perhaps must.

I appreciate what you write here so clearly, and strongly, and I went home Friday evening after I had posted
my anger at what I considered a pointless act of aggression against aggressors before
the terror in Paris broke,  and I didn't see that coming but of course knew something was coming but then
as you say yourself, where do we turn or where do they they turn, pointing to other witnessings -
everywhere now selves are at stake, everywhere potential bodies blown apart in evidence of
deathly politics and absolutisms.

A friend, who also took part in our exchanges last November
just sent a message from the Ukraine and told me she fears it's wiser sometimes to be
silent, but that is not (and I admire Ana and her women co-activists's insistence a great deal and
and am aware that is a tremendous exhausting effort) what she meant of course, what she meant is
"I was thinking to join an international independent journalist platform. There is no point to publish
anything in here as I would be immediately attacked by nationalists.It is also dangerous for the people
in the Eastern Ukraine to speak up against army or government. The local population is divided in its
loyalties to Ukraine and Russia and they report on each other to the fighting authorities.
The best protective strategy in the war zone is to be silent about everything."
And there is also such a thing as silent witnessing? but what if we were hiding behind our safe zones
and maillists, and yes, we can forget publishers and we can write and exchange ...
and so to reply to you, I am all for it, let us continue to write as one form of screaming.

I thought, for those who were interested, Alan, we could mention your piece that
you published, after our November series, in VLAK: Contemporary Poetics & the Arts, 5 (2015),
"Annihilation to the Limit", pp. 239-47.    Do you have a link:?

Mine was the one before, pp. 226-36, “Absolute Terror, or What Do You See Behind the Masks?”
VLAK: Contemporary Poetics & the Arts, 5 (2015),

Johannes Birringer

From: netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org [netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org] on behalf of Alan Sondheim [sondheim at panix.com]
Sent: Saturday, November 14, 2015 6:03 AM
To: NetBehaviour for networked distributed creativity
Subject: Re: [NetBehaviour] bodies of evidence, and the long reach

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
> __

More information about the NetBehaviour mailing list