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Terry Sheat’s “Time For A Public Inquiry Into Creative New Zealand,” for Scoop (30.09.2022), excerpts

Creative New Zealand (state funding body for the arts), responding to Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand’s application for funding, “specifically questioned ‘the role and relevance of Shakespeare in Aotearoa.’ It […] also stated that ‘the genre [Shakespeare] was located within a canon of imperialism and missed the opportunity to create a living curriculum and show relevance to the contemporary art context of Aotearoa’ (interestingly, not Aotearoa/New Zealand). One assessor [on the CNZ advisory panel] felt the need to ‘question whether a singular focus on an Elizabethan playwright is most relevant for a decolonising Aotearoa in the 2020s and beyond.'”

–Terry Sheat, “Time For A Public Inquiry Into Creative New Zealand,” 30 September 2022, here

excerpts from the article follow and are followed by a call to support an independent public inquiry into CNZ:

I believe that there is a systemic failure within Creative New Zealand and the Arts Council by having allowed “the development of a New Zealand identity in the arts” to become the dominant factor in their considerations as opposed to being one of a number of factors to be taken into account.

CNZ is failing in several duties under the [Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act 2014], including, in particular, upholding and promoting “the rights of artists and the right of persons to freedom in the practice of the arts” and supporting “activities of artistic and cultural significance that develop the creative potential of artists and art forms”. 

CNZ, perhaps in the mistaken belief that they are tackling elitism, are in fact creating their own elitist model of what art in New Zealand should be.

With all the threats in the modern world to literacy, culture, understanding and tolerance, who knew that CNZ would add their name to the list?

I am calling for a Public Inquiry into (i) the fairness and lawfulness of Creative New Zealand’s funding priorities, (ii) the way in which arts organisations are treated by CNZ and (iii) the effects CNZ’s decisions have had and are having on the state of the arts and arts organisations in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

–from here

To email in support of an independent public inquiry into CNZ:

The persons to email are any or all of:
carmel.sepuloni@parliament.govt.nz (Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage)
jacinda.ardern@parliament.govt.nz (PM and Associate Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage)
grant.robertson@parliament.govt.nz (Minister of Finance)
simon.oconnor@parliament.govt.nz (National Party spokesperson for Arts, Culture and Heritage)
nicola.willis@parliament.govt.nz (National Party spokesperson for Finance)
chris.bishop@parliament.govt.nz, (National Party MP)
Heather Baggott (CEO Ministry of Culture and Heritage) c/o her executive assistant bridie.cooper@mch.govt.nz 
Stephen.Wainwright@creativenz.govt.nz (CEO Creative New Zealand)
Caren.Rangi@creativenz.govt.nz (Chair of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, the governing body of Creative New Zealand)

please cc emails to ArtsFundingInquiry@gmail.com

for further related links here on squarewhiteworld.com

— from here

In 1960 the government set up an arts council, which three years later it renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council in honour of the queen, who was then visiting New Zealand. She is seen here with the council’s charter at a royal performance in Auckland in 1963. [source]

It was replaced in 1994 by the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act, which is administered by Creative New Zealand. [source]

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a note on human agency

Hochuli, Hoare and Cunliffe write that the social order has been “entrusted to lawyers, activists, remote governmental experts on transnational commissions, central bankers, technocrats, the market, CEOs… not to ordinary citizens” and that how production functions, is organised and distributed is left to “supply chain managers, investors and trade negotiators, not unions or politicians.” [see here]

Roles, the actions of actors or of agents with agency, are not characteristic of contemporary communications society however. The network is.

Contemporary society does not divide along class lines. It does not divide at all. Its entanglement, the entanglement of social and power relations that society comprises, constitute its control.

Roles do not characterise our kind of social political organisation but relations. Ordinary citizens are as much a part of the indivisible entanglement of control society as investors and trade negotiators, as well as unions and politicians. There is no division.

Power is relational. So is agency: as such, power is implicative.

The power of an agent to act is more than inextricable from the rest, from the totality of relations of power functions, it is implicated in the totality of the network of all of them.

The network materialises not as the totality of power relations, for example at the institutional or individual levels. It does not materialise neuro-bio-logically. Rather neurological and biological, ecological and social and psychical networks are built epistemologically on the model of material communications, the nondiscursive material network of a mathematical and computational imaginary. Yes: both material and imaginary, otherwise known as an hallucination of the totality.

It is imaginary because invented, a matter of pure invention. It determines the future and the future of human social organisation, so that it is a form of knowledge, a form of generic knowledge replacing all other forms.

Wrongly called science or the scientific worldview, in this determinative function of a knowledge, impending over the future, it is better called speculative.

The name for this network with its power functions and totality of relations is the market.

A speculative, implicative and nonhuman reality, or brain. Onto it are projected our real material conditions of an agency and roles that abrogate them both, preferring to our own, artificial intelligence.

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of the end of the end [politics after {the end (of politics)}]

in an excellently titled early section, “I hate myself and I want to buy,” quoting Hobsbawm:

the “short twentieth century” “ended in a global disorder whose nature was unclear, and without an obvious mechanism for either ending it or keeping it under control.” This impotence was not, however, only due to the complexity of the problems themselves. After all, talking-up complexity is the trick technocrats have been pulling for 3 decades, with the sole purpose of lowering expectations. Rather the impotence lay “in the apparent failure of all programs, old and new, for managing or improving the affairs of the human race.”

— Alex Hochuli, George Hoare, Philip Cunliffe, The End of the End of History: Politics in the Twenty-First Century, 2021, 3 (all quotes below from this work; my italics)

now I might attribute this to the abrogation of human agency in human affairs (see here), itself a trick technocrats and technocracy have been playing for the whole of the short twentieth century, substituting the symbolic framework of a global financial system mainframe for the physical framework of reference comprising the material conditions of life and of human affairs. Hochuli, Hoare, Cunliffe however engage in class analysis, effectively; so effectively, their book is the best explanation, the best statement of the problem and most adequate image, of what the political is now that I have read.

…citizens [have] largely seemed resigned to leave affairs of the state to the “political class.” What [has] proliferated in the wake of this withdrawal [is] an “amalgam of slogans and emotions” that [can] barely be called ideology: identity politics and xenophobia.

So, what has changed since 1994 when Hobsbawm’s work was first published? The disorder is only too apparent now, and movements for “secure identity and social order” seem an adequate descriptor for the political forces that rule many Western nations, such as national-populism. But to see only uninterrupted disorder would be to ignore precisely the settled order that governed the End of History era.

The New World Order pronounced by President George HW Bush in 1991 promised peace and cooperation under the aegis of American leadership–indeed, its total hegemony. But it was not only in geopolitical terms that stability would be achieved. The whole way that national politics operated was premised on the withdrawal of citizenry from active engagement. In its place was “post-politics,” a form of government that tries to foreclose political contestation by emphasizing consensus, “eradicating” ideology and ruling by recourse to evidence and expertise rather than interests or ideals. Underpinning all this was an economic regime–neoliberalism …

–Ibid., 4

neoliberalism Mirowski is right in avoiding calling an economic regime or set of policies but rather a thought collective. It is as such it goes to the beyond-the-human use of symbolic logics, beyond-the-human in this case meaning as-close-to-the-speed-of-light-as-possible. If it is any sort of regime, it is one of time.

The victor of the twentieth century ideological struggle between communism and capitalism was, in fact, consumerism–“the ‘ism’ that won.”

Of course, it was capitalism that really won. But shorn of a systemic alternative, even the notion that we lived in a system called “capitalism” receded from view. Contemporary society came to be seen as a natural order instead of the product of conflictual historical development.

–Ibid., 5

the flattening of there is no alternative makes it difficult to distinguish a political realm or level separate from the economic or the cultural. The advantage of Hochuli, Hoare and Cunliffe’s approach is in defining the political as being based in conflictual historical development, that of traditional class conflict between the working class and the bourgeoisie, being the capitalist class proper, owning the means of production, able to buy the labour power of others so that it becomes a commodity among commodities. The authors refer more readily to the PMC, either as the Professional Managerial Class or the Professional Middle Class, however they do so in awareness of the dangers of eliding the PMC with the capitalist class. In fact they show the PMC to be split between the downwardly mobile service middle class and the merchant middle class, with a bias to the market. Again, this is a smart move.

the theme developed in The End of the End of History is anti-politics as it supercedes the post-political dispensation Fukuyama called The End of History, a period rather than event during which it was accepted that there was no alternative to liberal capitalism. Anti-politics signals complete disenfranchisement with representative political processes. It becomes political through public and even popular participation in events that work against the political, protests against government, for example. Anti-politics is epitomised by figures from outside the political class and those promising to take over political processes, ex-president Trump, for example.

…if it is clear that the End of History has ended, it is likewise evident that History has not restarted; what we are witnessing is further fragmentation, disintegration and drift. Fukyama’s own picture did not account for the fact that the order he described might crumble away. Meanwhile, none of his various efforts to modulate or restructure his thesis–to incorporate new populisms and new forms of identity politics–fully convince.

–Ibid., 30

Already, in the aftermath of the Al Qaeda terror attacks on the Pentagon and New York in 2001, the US neoconservative Fareed Zakaria proclaimed the End of the End of History, by which he meant the end of the supposed ease and comfort of the post-Cold War era that had been secured by the prosperity of global growth. Zakaria expected this era, by necessity, to give way to the curtailing of democratic liberties and a new twilight struggle that would rely on covert operations and proxy forces, much like the Cold War itself. Neoconservative Robert Kagan and strategic theorist Azar Gat saw the return of history in the growth of geopolitical rivalry between the West on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other.

–Ibid., 30

Politics is the home of the Left, whereas the quelling of political enthusiasm is the natural home of the Right. This stands to reason. Consider the recent historical trajectory: the End of History was initiated by the global defeat of socialism. The post-political order that followed was justified by an ideology that pretended to be non-ideological. It was in effect a mask for the untrammeled rule of capital. Where there is no systemic alternative, there is no politics. Therefore, when the Left falls prey to the logic of anti-politics, it signs its own death warrant.

–Ibid., 50

…not every revolt against the post-political is worthy of support. Often, these take xenophobic or exclusionary forms, or their anti-politics is a recursive and self-defeating dead-end. But it is important to understand why revolt takes the forms it does in our age. With traditional representatives of the working classes–the social-democratic parties–fully signed up to neoliberal globalization, there are few “respectable” avenues for protesting against economic and cultural degradation, nor political leadership to give voice to these sentiments in the appropriately coded forms of political discourse. Hatred, in the post-political era, is suppressed or invalidated, to the extent that even simple disagreement is pathologized. Dissenting expressions then explode in other venues, often on social media, raw and angry. And the more they are objects of censure, the greater the temptation to poke at elite sensibilities.

–Ibid., 54

…to state our position and definition: politics at its most essential is the demand for reordering statuses and upending hierarchies. It is a demand for equality; it is even the basic notion of contestation. The “end of politics” is a transhistorical tendency, for whereever politics emerges, there are forces trying to moderate it, ground it, smash it, transcend it or foreclose it. Politics is there of relative rarity. Anti-politics then emerges in earnest as a visible, regular concern at the End of the End of History. The strategy of depoliticization known as post-politics breeds an angry reaction: the institutions of formal politics come to be rejected by citizens. At the End of the End of History, anti-politics becomes the predominant force. The rejection of the old consensus politics (post-politics) and its precise forms, modes and representatives, does more than just express a negative mood. It also takes aim at political authority and representation itself; it is thus that politics itself is rejected, tout court.

–Ibid., 57

the positive definition of the political project here is less compelling than its negative definition. The former had me scribbling in the margins a question I have just erased: … the political project?

On the paradox of population sector most affected by NOBS (Neoliberal Order Breakdown Syndrome): This section of society assumes their views and predilections are common sense, while at the same time feeling constantly embattled. Another way to put this is that, while the “liberal package” (combining elements such as cosmopolitanism, respect for expertise, individualism, an emphasis on personal ethics) is culturally hegemonic, liberals refuse to acknowledge their own hegemony. …their political identities are founded on the idea of being “the good guys.” A less charitable interpretation would even argue that their interest in politics only exists insofar as it allows them to cast themselves as ethical actors. All this means hegemonic liberals could be moral critics from positions of relative comfort, content in the knowledge that the world would not really move against them, or even change appreciably.

But then it did.

–Ibid., 62

a persecution complex among some of the more well-off and influential members of society is another characteristic of NOBS.

We see the self-idealization of anti-Trump liberalism as the #Resistance, invoking the authority of anti-fascist guerilla struggle. In Britain, MPs developed their own complex: protestors who called ex-Tory MP Anna Soubry a Nazi, a traitor, and a fascist outside parliament had to plead guilty to causing the one-time leader of “The Independent Group for Change” “harassment, alarm, or distress.” In this way, speech acts are hysterically re-coded as threats at the same level as physical violence and intimidation. The consequence of this presentation of elite-as-victim is to allow relatively privileged members of society to mask their real economic and political power, and instead portray themselves as worthy of popular sympathy.

I have referred to this elsewhere as weaponised empathy.

…hollowness. Our political world has retained its external appearance, but if you crack open the shell, there’s nothing inside. We still have parties and elections and campaigns. We occasionally have big protests. Even trade unions still have some members (quite a lot if you live in a Nordic country or Belgium). Yet the reality is that party membership has declined, electoral participation has decreased and union density is much diminished. There is a void where “the people” should be.

–Ibid., 115

Hollowness:

The End of History saw the full unfolding of long-term dynamics: the end of party government and its modes of popular sovereignty. Although the old vehicles remained–often, such as in Germany, the UK and the US, under the very same names–the 1990s and 2000s saw parties divest themselves of their substantive function of organizing social conflict and structuring political division. They became more appendages of the state–“cartel parties” in political scientist Peter Mair’s terminology–than organic social institutions. As the late Mair concluded: “The age of party democracy has passed. Although the parties themselves remain, they have become so disconnected from the wider society, and pursue a form of competition that is so lacking in meaning, that they no longer seem capable of sustaining democracy in its present form.”

–Ibid., 116

…without significant working-class participation, protest fails.

–Ibid., 124

this raises the question, Where are the working classes? and… What do they want?

the answer in part given by The End of the End is authoritarian populist leadership that is an agent of antipolitics. There is here also a reactionary sentiment, a desire for past securities represented symbolically by organised religions and institutions like the monarchy.

…broadly speaking, it is the young and middle class that are driving protest today. The divide is not only generational. There are two middle classes, divided socio-culturally. One is oriented toward the public sector comprising academics, public sector managers and professionals, lawyers, civil servants, teachers, [artists, musicians, ‘culture workers’] etc., the other toward the market. It is the former group who are increasingly mobilized in left-wing movements.

–Ibid., 125

the merchant middle class vs. the (downwardly mobile and increasingly precariarised) service middle class (whose values are in turn marginalised, bringing about the famous crisis in (middle class / liberal) values)

As information technology and other changes to labor processes destroyed less-skilled white-collar jobs, so political elites pushed higher education as a means of preparing a workforce for the new economy. This of course was a lie, as there were not enough new, well-paying jobs to mop up those new degree-bearing graduates… A generation faced the prospect of being worse off than their parents [and having to have paid for the pleasure, privilege, of … dashed expectations]…

–Ibid., 127

lockdowns…

…state propaganda around the lockdown enjoined all citizens in collective responsibility for public health, and collective participation in protecting social interests.

It is, to be sure, a minimal and hedged form of national politics, a truncated embodiment of collective responsibility–“stay home” as per the message of so many governments. The form of this collective vision notwithstanding, the content is different to the persistent efforts of the past to shrink and strangle the public sphere over the last 3 decades, in which the public has been repelled from collective life, with the result that social order has been entrusted to lawyers, activists, remote governmental experts on transnational commissions, central bankers, technocrats, the market, CEOs… not to ordinary citizens. Unsurprisingly, this era coincided with the age of the consumer–the privatized, apathetic citizen-voter, encouraged to benefit from low inflation and cheap goods resulting from global trade and supply chains, and to consume politics, in turn, as a remote, mediatized spectacle offering different brands of essentially similar products, while not concerning themselves with the questions of how production functions, is organized and distributed. That was left to the supply chain managers, investors and trade negotiators, not unions or politicians.

–Ibid., 158

it was in other words left to economic rather than political actors and agents. The interesting thing about this view of the antipolitical is that it retains human agency. (see here)

I am more inclined to see it as a politics without the political because of the abdication of human reason to calculative and necessarily computational agency, for its being better, more efficient and faster than the human–and for that more reasonable. A posthuman (or postneurological) political function abrogated to intelligent machines.

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“the past is a fire that eats up the present”

“Our vast imaginations pull in the opposite direction from our small, frail bodies.” – from here

Consciousness covers itself.

Consciousness covers itself with abstractions, with the abstract, as much with materialities, in the pragmatics of everyday life.

In the pragmatics of everyday life, the “social absolute”–Seitaro Yamazki’s fossils of the future.

Reminds me of “not the relativism of truth, the truth of relativism”–Deleuze and Guattari.

A critic questions the absolute. Is it capitalist? Is it not so much absolute as absolutising?

Is it relativisable? for example, through historicising what was thought absolute, see if it has been constructed, when and how. Then it can be made relative to historical circumstance, some determinations some accidents.

Is this deconstruction? No. Deconstruction starts from what is already there in the construct, the social construct, the epistemic construct, that is always at work to undo it: deconstruction has to do with an inner contradiction, a tiny difference and an infinitesimal crack in the foundation which will be singularly responsible for bringing the edifice down.

To see how it has been made so that it can be unmade: how the trick was done to undo it. It is usually words and their effect on institutions: is this Foucault’s genealogical method?

Yes, first is showing the social absolute is not absolute, but not by using the critical method. Not by using the critical method because the critical method is also historicisable, is too timely.

Another absolute is called for… this is a bit like Alex Hochuli, George Hoare and Peter Cunliffe‘s suggestion that leaderless political movements are ineffectual; especially so when looking at anti-politics. Anti-politics has its leaders, leaders whose appeal is of a different quality than political, that is mythic, iconic and demagogic. (probably why political dirt does not stick to them)

Social absolute covers: a social self.

Yes, social self is individuated: the Other is an individual. God is. Absolute is.

…so the individuation has a timeline that it is relative to, so what? Critic of the critic asks.

Consciousness, political consciousness, covers itself in its timely exercise: in the pragmatics of everyday life.

Under consciousness is not the time of the social absolute but the individuating absolute, an internal time. An infernal time: the past is a fire that eats up the present.

knowledge is a determination of the future: use it

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the significance of dissolving sugar: or, the earth has lost its centre

The image appears in Bergson’s Creative Evolution of mixing sugar and water. In some readings it is either a lump or a spoonful of sugar. The quantity is unimportant. What is important, Bergson says, is that I must wait until the sugar melts.

“This little fact is big with meaning”, he writes.

Deleuze takes up the image as shorthand for its big meaning: the time it takes for the sugar to dissolve. Now, this duration cannot be measured as it transpires. Only when the time has expired can it be.

Neither can this time be, Bergson writes, protracted or contracted. It is, he says, an absolute: on elapsing, it will have been the duration required in order for the process to complete itself, in order for the sugar to have dissolved. On the basis of its necessity, the actual elements, water, sugar, glass, Bergson says, are abstractions. Time is not here the variable, it is the a priori and a posteriori condition for the process to take place.

Nor can this be said to be contingent on the will of the observer or contingent on observation: the time it takes will always be the time it takes. I can attend to or not attend to the passage of time. It will have the the same quality, and its quality will not be that of a quantity: its duration will not be its measurable duration; two instances of dissolving sugar in water even if measurably identical in duration will occupy a duration that, lived, is absolutely different each time. It is then of a different quality and is an individual, unique, incapable of replication and irreducibly singular, such that Bergson writes it is in the manner of a consciousness.

It can be said that consciousness has for Bergson the qualities of irreducible and radical difference, and a uniqueness of interiority, a subjectivity that is singular and individual, because of the time it takes to pass through, because of its duration, not that the sugar dissolving in water is conscious or participates in the subjectivity of an observer or by participating in an inner experience of time that is consciousness. Consciousness is what it is because of its duration and it is from the qualities of an individual duration that the individual receives its qualities, not the other way around.

Duration can be said to be the source of difference, and this is what Bergson’s Creative Evolution is about: duration as being where creativity originates.

The difficulty reading Bergson today I believe comes from having lost or covered duration. Our inner experience of time has been replaced by screen-time, the digital involves images that are always moving whether or not movement is depicted, or cinematic time. Movement itself it not the key. The temporality movement occupies is.

The time it takes for sugar to dissolve in water: on screen, this time is no different each time footage of sugar dissolving in water is shown; the time it takes is no different each time it is watched. We may be different but, again, this duration does not gain its qualities of irreducible and unrepeatable singularity from us, either in our paying conscious attention or in our inattention to it.

The other way around: we have covered or lost in duration the source of the individuality of consciousness, its creative source, and that of our own individuation.

Consciousness comes from time. This notion of time, or duration, is unscientific, anti-scientific even; but then I wonder how much science owes to the technology that gives us our primary experience of time, that technology concerned with the moving image?

Emmanuel Carrère, as a finalist for the Gregor von Rezzori prize, gave an address in Florence in 2014. In it he considers the difference between fictional and historical characters, those drawn from life and those made up, for example as ideal types. Doing so he describes well what distinguishes the ones who lived, in this case Jesus Christ and Pontius Pilate:

These two men, Jesus and Pilate, weren’t mythological figures, gods or heroes, living in a fantasy world where everything is possible because nothing is real. They were a colonial officer and a local visionary: men like you and me, who had specific faces, wore specific clothes, and talked with specific voices. Their meeting didn’t take place like things we imagine, in one of an infinitely variable number of ways, but the way all things happen on earth, that is, in one specific way that excludes all others. We know next to nothing about this specific way, this unique way, that had the privilege of passing from the virtual to the real. Yet it happened.

— “Resemblance,” translated by John Lambert in 97,196 Words: Essays. It handles really I suppose of what makes the unique individual unique. Yet it is called “Resemblance.” I would say that in the singular quality of duration it is not identity that is at issue, or that identity is so only in so far as it is resemblance. Duration has rather to do with difference than identity, Deleuze would say, difference in itself, whereas identity goes towards the same.

The event of sugar dissolving in water or Christ appearing before Pilate: I am more struck here by Carrère’s statement that this is the way all things happen on earth, in one specific way that excludes all others; and of course I am also struck by his coincidental and parallel statement that we know next to nothing about what way this was, which excluded all others, that had the privilege of passing from the virtual to the real, that is, of occurring. Bergson, and Deleuze from him, says the virtual is no less real. Bergson’s duration depends on it. This passing is, for both, from the virtual to the actual. Only the event in actuality, actualised, can be measured; quantity, number, for Bergson, presupposes the setting out of one thing and another in space, not the qualitative difference that is in duration.

That quantity, number, setting out for example images one after another, belongs to space, and not time as Bergson understands it, tells us why he held cinematic time to have no relation to understanding absolute time, duration. He rejected early cinema in much the same way Freud did, and for similar reasons: it is all just chases. Although there is something Freudian in this.

For Bergson, it was all merely motor-sensory, without a memory or spiritual, or artistic, component. He liked it for the study of biological processes and thought it outside of enabling to be seen natural processes that are ordinarily invisible to be trivial. Yet, in his cinema books, Deleuze takes him to the cinema for its philosophical importance.

There is an intermediate point to be made here. Bergson’s and Freud’s rejection of film for being trivial is based on subject matter and genre, and the first subject matter, from the first commercial screening made in Paris in 1895, developed into genre was not either the chase or highly kinetic, motor-sensory, movement-based moving image sequence we are used to thinking of, in for example L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat

On the approach of the train the audience is said to have rushed for the exits. The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station was only the year following the Lumière brothers’ first commercial showing of a programme of short films. What grabbed the attention of the audience at the earlier screening was not the chase elements, or the thrill of speed and movement.

It was, the leaves on the trees are moving. It was, the dust from breaking the wall billows in a cloud. It was the smoke, steam, spray from waves and the waves themselves in all their chaos that were appreciated. From this appreciation grew the Wave Film. (Support for the notion that the Wave Film was the first genre can be found here: Jordan Schonig’s doctoral thesis, “Cinema’s Motion Forms,” 2017, p. 62.)

This too is a little fact with a big meaning. I deal with some of the implications in my moving image lectures (6, 7, 8, 9, 10). I would love to think that these have an afterlife.

I opened The Needle’s Eye, Fanny Howe, by chance on this passage:

Babette Mangolte, the French filmmaker, wrote that now, with digital image, and “no shutter reprieve, no back and forth between forty-eighth of a second dark followed by one forty-eighth of a second of projective image, with no repetitive pattern as regular as your own heartbeat, you are unable to establish and construct an experiential sense of time passing.”

— 2016, p. 86.

This goes to the question of what enables us to establish and construct an experiential sense of time passing. Where do we hear the heartbeat of time? With Deleuze, I would answer that in cinema we do, whether it is digital or not. The movement in the image is the issue because this movement has a distinct duration, and, replayed, it has the same duration.

Should it surprise us that the individual clip is the same individual each time it is played? The significance of the Wave Film is that it did surprise. That what in nature was unique and unrepeatable could be repeated on screen captivated audiences of early cinema.

We should also bear in mind the reach of cinema from its beginnings. Within in a few years almost every country in the world had seen cinema and in many places cinema was in production. This accounts for major advances in cinema being able to take place outside of the traditional centres of culture. For example the first feature film was made in Australia, The Story of the Kelly Gang, and released in 1906.

Film was, considering the forces of production mobilised, considering its global mobility, what might be called a first (world-)war-machine. The means of production circulated as rapidly as the films made. What was spreading, what spread so rapidly, was not simply a new form of representation, medium, a new art form or a new from of entertainment, production and consumption, and it was not simply a new way to represent movement and time, but was a new regularisation or gave a new norm to time and to the experience of observed movement, and therefore scientific knowledge.

What might happen from this point is attention might suddenly cut between topics. We see this in modernist literature, in parataxis. It is strange that accounts of modernist poetry treat this as if the juxtaposition of dissimilar topics in a newspaper or their coincidence with the commodity-form might explain it. It is strange, because what distinguishes cinema is the ability to jump between spaces, to be anywhere and at any time in the next cut, as long as it is the next, and then the one after that, as long as it is in the temporal sequence of the moving image, and along its duration.

In cinema and screen time over all, the time element specific to it is strengthened at the expense of its spatial element; and this spatial element includes historical succession, just as Bergson suggests that number and quantity follow on from a setting out that has less to do with time than with space. The time element of cinema and screen becomes rigid and for that reason replayable, no matter the chaos of movement in the shot or the distance in space or space-time a single cut leaps over: for example, the millions of years between the bone being thrown into the air in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the spaceship it cuts to.

Deleuze is right to think about screentime in terms of duration, in Bergson’s terms. But this leads to the greater problem he addresses in Cinema 2. This problem is the loss of belief in the earth. The problem is also stated by Deleuze this way: the earth has lost its centre. It has not because of loss of belief. Both statements belong to the problem of duration as the source of that creativity, its origin, that the earth is.

How still to tackle this problem? How, when our own creative origin has been lost or covered over in the inner experience of time by screentime? I would suggest… doing nothing.

I would suggest passing through screentime. I would suggest making images adequate to pass through. We cannot restore a centre to the earth or an experience that has become alien to us. That is belief in the earth.

We must not try. We must not must. We pause, stop working, pass through …

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the end of the end (of history) is not the end of the purpose (that declared itself in 1946)

Dani Rodrik’s policy trilemma holds that “democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full.” – from here.

I just misread that as politics in the (twenty-) first person

D. writes to me the foregoing, under the subject-line, Re: Anti politics at work,

He includes this example of Sovereignty Versus Trade, here.

Re: Anti politics, a twerk, my reply:

how does it devolve onto (or into) the trilemma otherwise than with a shift back or retreat into national sovereignty? National sovereignty has not been at the top of minds (the Carl Schmidt buzz notwithstanding) for decades, since, I would say, 1946. It has not been because it is dirty and guilty of ethnic cleansings, genocide and holocaust. In other words, it is human.

With the bruited, louder than it is real, turn from outrightly and forthrightly neoliberal policy, national sovereignty reemerges, but in what form? Does it reemerge in the clash, in the antagonism, between politics and economy, that is inside political economy? The Mexican example would seem to say so. But then, that is in a poor, a tabescent form: hardly fit, agile or having the resilience of entrepreneurial culture, the verve of it, and its clean hands, while the burnouts fall like Satan.

Is it then as economic self-determination that national sovereignty reemerges? It is in that case inside the state. That sounds serious, that sounds like serious division, but politics is still not thinking, is not thinking yet, because this political problem is really a matter of hypocrisy, subterfuge and covering, covering for a financial system of globalised free markets conducting their business in the abstraction layer of the technical apparatus the purpose of which is not to need politics. Its purpose is not to recognise exactly national sovereignty, as its purpose is also to avoid what is human, with its obvious pitfalls.

This is what The End of the End… is lacking, but I will wait and see, as I read further.

If you are reading this and have not read The End of the End of History, I recommend you do.

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lucky you! Indulge all your worst tendencies and most sadistic desires

— why is it people like bad music?

— it’s not that they like bad music, it’s that they prefer it.

— Shannon Cartier Lucy, If My Hand Offends, 2019

… almost all of those who are born unlucky have been brutally prevented from developing more than a fraction of their own abilities, and this is perhaps the most shocking fact about our human world.

Undoubtedly less shocking, but possibly more weird, is the incredible fact that in the contemporary world many even of those who are born lucky are voluntarily forgoing the opportunity to develop their inner resources. Gorgeous and delicious fruits, grown by seductive geniuses, sit on the plates of these lucky people but remain uneaten. A process of decay has infected the lucky in various parts of the world, and very notably in the United States, leading many even of the luckiest to turn vehemently against complex thought in general and the cultivation of the intellect in particular–and even to turn against complex pleasures. And in certain circles, crude thought and ignorance are openly respected and praised, while the concept of basing one’s conclusions on evidence (or on replicable experiments)–and even the principle of rationality itself–are ignored or even mocked. Traveling in precisely the opposite of the direction that would help the world to dig itself out of its crisis, many lucky people have come to believe that our spiritual and mental lives should have only two elements: first, everyone should learn whatever technical skills are necessary in order for them to be able to work and make money (skills learned by the unlucky would bring them a small amount of money, skills learned by the lucky would bring them a large amount of money) and second, for relaxation, people should consume very simple pleasures such as very simple stories, very simple music, very simple eroticism, and various sadistic forms of amusement such as television programs that show people insulting or tormenting each other or killing each other. Omitted from this short list of recommended intellectual activities–and from the type of education that can be derived from it–is anything conducive to the development of the wide-awake, thoughtful, curious, sharply logical, and deeply emotional human beings who could save the world, on the one hand, or, if a better world were to be created, could actually enjoy it.

— Wallace Shawn, Night Thoughts, 2017, pp. 69-71.

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the book from the TV: DIEM25 TV

Everything Must Change! The World After Covid-19 is the book from conversations from the online television series from the Democracy In Europe Movement 2025. (ed.s Renata Ávila and Srećko Horvat, OR Books, 2020.)

DIEM TV diem25

it’s probably more important to know that it happened, that it’s happening, than to read the book or watch the TV… I didn’t know before how much of a stranglehold is exercised by Wall Street on the global financial system, simply because of the high percentage of transactions globally that are conducted in dollars. I didn’t know that Gaddafi was assassinated, dragged from a drainpipe and shot, before he was able to institute a pan-African currency called the Afrique. … And I didn’t know a lot more. But what I suspected and what has been confirmed by this book is that the Left is embarrassed.

Embarrassed by the redundancy of its moral indignation. Embarrassed by the winding-up of the ideas market. Embarrassed by the downturn of its own fortunes in that market, from stakeholder to small stall-holder, to panhandler. Embarrassed by a nostalgia for its own rich past, a nostalgia for Ideology; now a poverty of ideas. A riches to rags story. Embarrassing for all that it seems able to do is to critique. To slip around in the spilt blood of its historical and historicised present. … Panhandler? no, the pan has no handle.

Here’s a little of Brian Eno’s contribution to the conversation, a bit I liked, a kind of dandiacal tastegroup led political aesthetic, slowcooking populism to raise consciousness:

one thing I think might make a difference is a shift in societal attitudes toward wealth. I think that displays of wealth will soon seem very coarse, gross and crude, and that this shift will impact people’s actions. For example, when minimalism began as an art movement about fifty years ago, it seemed quite radical in its questioning of this idea of “more is better,” and that more detail and luxurious materials were better. Minimalism has now, however, translated into a broader cultural movement from its beginnings as a stylistic notion. While it takes a long time, these aesthetic shifts do eventually have societal effects.

Yes. There’s a call to arms!

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this poem departs (introduction to poems that don’t exist #3)

       This poem departs from the idea which is not my own that all that we think of as objective knowledge is subjective knowledge.

       I suppose I can call it a poem, I am introducing poems that don’t exist. It doesn’t exist, this poem.

       When we think of the object of knowledge we think of it as outside ourselves. Someone told us. Or we saw for ourselves. Most often it’s someone, teachers, friends, parents, parents rarely. They are hardly believable. It’s even difficult to think of their existence, of them being objectively real.

       Why would I not call it a poem should it not exist and not if it should? I think in my first introduction, if you go back there, this was the case.

       Most often, more often than not it’s a body, giving out what then becomes public knowledge. That is, publishing, but as such bodies are in the business, they sell it, are selling it. That is, publicity. So they are private bodies, businesses; and even if public institutions, like schools and libraries, and institutions of government, they think of themselves as businesses. They have adopted the business model; even organs of government, those organs telling us what’s going on in our own society, what new laws have been made, these are not, as is sometimes thought, political mouthpieces, organs of propaganda: they are private companies or separate departments engaged in public relations, that is, PR.

       I wouldn’t call my writing all through these years poetry, because it has never been published as poetry for a start. But it has been read as poetry... but not like, and this is where these introductions to poems that don’t exist come in, it has not been read like those people I hesitate to call poets because I all too readily recognise their voices. Yes, I all too readily hear in the voices of those who read their poetry who know it to be poetry, poems, they are reading, who are for the most part published poets, and those who aspire to be published, to have their poetry published, I all too readily hear in their voices other voices. Other voices which all come down to one voice. One voice that we know to be the voice of poetry, which, in other words, serves, pays exactly lip service, to our knowledge of what poetry already is.

       The change from public to private organs of knowledge we recognise as participating in the change from knowledge to information. But this part is exaggerated when we, as some do, maintain the change from knowledge to information to be to the former’s detriment. Or go as far as to say it marks the demise of knowledge. Or complete symbolic breakdown.

       When I read poetry I read it in my own voice. So I’ve never been concerned about what my voice is on the page. It shifts, drifts. I can’t go as far as to say I have multiple voices. I am not Fernando Pessoa.

       There are those informing us of what we take to be the case. With some practice we can separate out commentary from exact description. We can separate the facts from opinion, or from the taint of subjectivity. We suppose we can. I don’t intend in the poem that follows to be gainsaying this supposition. This is not the reason for my poem.

       Without too great an uncertainty, and despite the inroads made into the world of poetry, of poetry publishing, a large part of which relies on its own PR, its own good publicity, in allowing those inroads to be made, by black people, by coloured people, by people belonging to ethnic minorities and by women, queer, trans people, those who are in the middle of transitioning and those whose identities are fluid, among whom I do not count myself, we may call the voice of poetry despite this progress, despite the progress made by all these factors, we may call it his master’s voice.

       This poem then is not so concerned with the passage to privatisation of knowledge where knowledge equals power and the globalisation of that power. It’s not so concerned with the politics of knowledge. It’s not that idea, the idea of science and civilization going hand in hand and then knowledge being taken out of the hands of the civilizing process, siphoned off into privately owned silos, it’s not this idea that it departs from; and neither is it the idea of there being some good attached to the history of knowledge in its relation to power, nor is it the idea of some bad, of the process of civilization being one of conquest, of colonisation, of empire, of slavery or of emancipation.

       His master’s voice takes up poetry in a way that ruins it for me. And it does so for the slam-poetry poet-performer as well as for the academic poet-teacher: the little chat introducing the poem over, he, she, they, launch in, with a change in voice, a change in speech to what is in quotation marks. His master’s voice.

       The following poem, that, remember, does not exist... is not about freeing knowledge or of planting and harvesting it, of stockpiling or of weaponising it in some kind of economic arms race... It’s not about its advantage or disadvantage. It’s not above it. It departs from this... at that point when... all that we think of as being objectively known becomes subjective. That is, the point at which we, any one of us, either stupid or smart, poor or rich, powerful or powerless, grasp it, understand and know. What do we know?

       I’m not saying hear me, I am an authority on this, you can bet the academic poet-teacher of poetry does her best not to write, in fact and defensively tries to avoid writing, poetry suited to the seminar. And you can bet the slam-poetry performer does not try to avoid writing and presenting the stuff suited to the society of slam poets: he, she, they, want to belong. The poet-teacher disowns. She, he is, they are uncomfortable in their professional skins. That’s why we laud the laureate’s appointment who manifests to us the inroads poets have made into the poetry business who have different skins: we appreciate their struggle with having to wear them that can only mean progress for poetry, and be filtered back into the process of teaching it, the civilizing process.

       What I am saying, and it’s not an original thought, it’s not an original thought and it’s not because it’s not that this poem departs from it, is, what I am saying is that because all we think of as being objectively known is only ever subjective, is that the poem has to depart. Knowledge is always this departure. And a poem is too.

       I am not saying I have altogether avoided his master’s voice by calling it out. My failure to publish poetry is my failure. It’s not turn-around-able into a successful strategy to avoid his master’s voice that I don’t call my work, my pieces of work, writing, poems... except those, like the following, that doesn’t exist.

       What I am talking about in the poem that doesn’t exist is not freedom from slavery. What I am talking about in the poem is a new I. The new I that follows the departure that to know is and that a poem is.

       I am he who—

       I am she who—

       I am they who—

       Language is a found object.

       I hear its murmuring. A background to the world. And forming it into words...

       It’s said. Is not enough. As if the fault lay with language.

       The impossible to express.

       It does not. And changing it or knowing how to is simply irresponsible.

       The proper response is to let him go let her go let them go

       It’s called this poem departs

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introduction to a poem

This is an introduction to a poem called ‘All it Takes’ or ‘Clay Birds.’ Although I hesitate to call it a poem. But that’s my problem. Not yours. And I’ll be talking about that in another introduction.

I was listening to the editor of The Economist magazine. When was it? It doesn’t matter. The magazine’s been going for 36 years so they’re probably still doing it now. Every year they do a report on the year. And this one was for 2021.

Asked about what he felt was going to happen with the pandemic—the announcer covered himself and sort of undid the question by saying nobody can know—whether it was going to develop from pandemic to endemic, the Economist editor said Omicron looked like it might be the bridge from a pandemic situation to the situation of an endemic. Where we get vaccinated every year for Covid along with our other flu jabs. Then he went on.

He said that the first two decades of the millennium were very settled. Talk about rolling back neoliberalism, and so on. Local issues, but issues raised within a period of global stability, so it felt. Then 2020 hit.

People say they’ll hunker down, that they’ll wait for things to get back to normal. I don’t think they will, he said. I think the shape of 2022 is the shape of the coming decades, where we have more chaos.

We have it at all sorts of levels. From climate change to our fragile democracies. People living under autocracies, like China, although I think they prefer to call it socialist democracy, and in Eastern Europe are asking political leaders to do something. Rising prices for basic goods, housing. Distribution networks strained and disrupted and supply chains breaking down.

We are going to have to get used to chaos and this poem is about that. Called ‘All it Takes,’ because all it takes is a little chaos. At the social level and for nature. It’s natural to want to preserve the status quo.

We can see it in this country, how conservative forces can take advantage, because all it takes is a little chaos. These forces can mean well. They often do. Take the minor level of the national library. The so-called book cull. The chaos that’s been unleashed.

What has changed I think, which the poem addresses, is you can have your little chaos, you can indulge in it if you will. You can have your little coup. You little revolution. But conservative forces, and by that I mean forces of conservation also, whose good intentions are taken advantage of, because this is what has changed, conservative forces know it suits them. It suits the oligarchs. It suits the corporate hierarchy. It suits the rich and getting richer.

They know that all it takes is a little chaos to preserve the status quo. And the funny thing is that the left, perhaps the reason for the other title of the poem, are made of straw, easy to ignite. To sow more chaos, and, like clay birds, to take potshots at.

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