[NetBehaviour] bodies of evidence, and the long reach

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Thu Nov 19 08:20:54 CET 2015

Thank you, I don't have a link.
I think it is my fault that I am not part of an activist group; as an 
individual, I'm wearing a carapace, which relates directly to finding no 
community in Rhode Island, certainly none that will have me. That said, 
the result is a turning inward which is always dangerous, always creating 
a problematic communality or lack of it. But it gives me space as well to 
deal again and again with anguish and with a kind of limit I see, to, for 
example, the leverage rationality/humanism once extended to us, a leverage 
that collapses into Facebook aphorisms, porous data, and clever mappings 
just above a surface where slaughter increases daily. NOW we're all aghast 
at Paris, but we're not as yet, as a community, aghast at our own 
complicity, at what's happened in the Mid-East and across America, at 
Sinjar, at so many sites; I hope against hopelessness that Paris provides 
a symbol of one's imminent back-yard, that it leads to an embracing of the 
anguish going on elsewhere to much harder degree; it's Europe that's been 
hit hard, Europe Europe Europe. But I think, look, we have learned 
nothing, we can learn nothing from history (and to think otherwise is 
delusion); we have to learn about this nothing, which also involves 
unlearning, and for me, this is where anguish appears like so many rotted 
postholes in unnamed villages all the way back: nothing to learn but the 
twisting. So again for me (and I'm open to charges of this lack of 
community, this lack of action except for online/occasional lecturing when 
someone gives me a mouth and place to speak), I try to understand on the 
level of a philosophy, what creates anguish, what is this dwelling that 
slaughters us in the end? I feel apologetic; I am part of _nothing_ here.

- Alan

On Mon, 16 Nov 2015, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> 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),
> http://people.brunel.ac.uk/dap/AbsoluteTerror.pdf
> 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
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