[NetBehaviour] On Textament, Testament, Situation

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Sun Dec 19 16:49:16 UTC 2021

On Textament, Testament, Situation


To testify, to bear witness, something unbearable, to flee, not
to arrive, not to leave, not to be able to leave, to remain, to
be forced to remain, to be held as a baby's held, to be held
accountable, to be unaccountable, to be of no account. To be of
no account at all.

Is there time to waste in the midst of waste? We are we playing
computational games? Cryptocurrencies? Will they save us? Will
they save them? Even if the energy issue is solved, will this
help resolve the crises of violent militias and massacres?

Our imperative - and there is one - should be above all, to bear
witness, bare witness, as best we can. This is a poor start to
an essay.

This is about computation and wealth among other things. This is
an inversion of derive, or the derive of the witness. The
urgency of witnessing, the necessity. The necessity of reporting
and the urgency of the absolute reality of the world. Of the
brute reality of the world. Of the hardness of desiccated ground
and stones. Of the massacre.

We can't separate bearing witness from action. We can't afford
to hide behind the walls of the police station or university
department. We can't afford to allow computers to do our stories
for us. Computers are dead tech. Computers are always already
dead tech.

Electronic writing needs to serve the witness, not databasing.
I sit and write and call programs up, not call programs into
account, but as silent partners shaping reports of violence,
strife, hunger, from the frontier. The frontier is all of us.
The frontiers are within us. We are not cyborgs but frontiers.
We are flesh. We are violent, fucking flesh. We are obsolete
tech. All tech is obsolete.

Corporations obviously use slave labor, child labor, poverty,
violence, for the production of our tools. We like to talk about
liberation, hacking for the fun of it. Starvation is at our
door. We give lip service to corporate violence which serves us
well. Every bit of electronics, every byte of e-lit and art,
comes at a cost elsewhere. We are parasites on elsewhere.

I keep thinking repeatedly of Arendt, Celan, Amery, Anne Frank,
among others, returning words from the cost of lives. Reporting
on slaughter, poverty and its violence, any number of writers.
Here I can go over a highway or a river, or down a road, and
find the same, hidden behind the facades of the neoliberal city.

What are we doing with AI, blockchain, NFTs? What are we not
doing with violence, addictions, starvation, and on and on, in
this world which we share with everyone? Who do we not share our
world with? Why do we stay on one side of the river, one side of
town, and not the other? We are the police, we are more than
that, we are the barricades. (And how can we separate our own
work, creative and otherwise, from the rest of the world, this
world, the world we all live in?)

We need constant testament, testimonial, exposure, resistance,
and less AI, less games, more role-playing games, more games
towards solutions. And less billionaires, trillionaires - whose
yacht monies alone could save millions of people, could create
better worlds. Elon Musk wanted to nuke part of Mars. Apple's
ecosystem sends money, taxless, offshore. Billionaires take
space rides and they're all reported as news, not massacre.
People are dying on the streets here. (Look how much we _really_
learn from looking down from space.)

We all know all of this to the point that our bones are radiated
with it. We all know all about covid all about climate change
all about high north tensions all about starvation all about
prejudice and violence all about collapse. (TV seems to be
turning more and more towards fetishized violence in particular.
It's entertaining to have an aporia while millions fake die in
fake battles of fake epiphanies of good over evil.) Always
easier to watch than do, than to walk the walk. Easier to talk
the talk as well.

And so forth. This sounds trite, full of holes, nonsensical,
overly romanticized even. The world is full of holes itself,
room for all sorts of creativity, responding or not, to crises.

But the crises perhaps should be central? How can we justify
using crypto for example when people are not only starving
across the river or highway or whatever, but have no access to
online at all, except through cellphones? Or have no access at
all? Some of our schools have students reading at 4% level. What
will happen to them?

We need more literatures, more works, more art, dealing with
testament. We need less siloing from universities and publishing
houses. We need more accountability. We are in the end times;
what is to be done? (Yes, this has been said repeatedly and for
decades, but now the stats and news stories and suffering bear
it out. In a sense, metaphoric only, the world has shrunk to its

(On a personal note, and all of this is personal of course, as
well as trite, there's far too much criticisms of novels and
other traditional forms of writing, in favor of choice, paths,
wanderings, ergodic lit. But an advantage of, say, a novel in
the usual form is that the reader can't escape; in this sense
it's a model for the world itself. We're bound here and have to
learn from the binding, space-rides or not. And the world is
increasingly uncomfortable, its 'truths' are uncomfortable.
Whatever is to be done has to be, needs to be, within the
Given real. Too much illness, too many refugees, too many wars,
too many missiles, too much poverty, too much suffering. That is
who we are, that is where we are, and, ethically, that is what
we should be dealing with.)

We always already know everything always already written here.
That's part of the problem; we always already know it all, and
_that's the truth_ - we _do_ know it. And we can be reduced to
almost literal catatonic states waking up constantly to these
realities, even well before covid. (We live with plagues of
poverty, disease, violence, anger, fundamentalisms, everywhere,
and have for decades.) We need relaxation, walks in the woods
(or in our case, through parking-lots), and so forth. But we
should be constantly aware of the horizon of our immediate,
imminent, and immanent habitus, should be constantly aware of
the other, the Other, the those, and that we are there as well,
as much there as anywhere, as anyone. In other words, we already
know all of this, perhaps even all of this there is to know
(which is why we periodically turn away from the news), but
there is and should be a gnawing away at inactivity, a way as
well to deal with discomfort, discomfiture, to expand our
creative horizons to take in the world, perhaps as it is,
tethered to its possibilities, and as much as might be the
case for us and our abilities.


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