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day 32

I didn’t tell anyone, how could I? But there were times at the beginning of this enigmatic time, which has only slowly begun turning its face towards us, when I thought I cannot bear to be part of a world where governments do not claim the political prerogative of representing the society that elects them; where governments are powerless: where in fact the political is powerless, and can only claim any power to act by proxy, or, as I wrote in the last post (the last post!), only by having forgotten what the instruments, the tools of political prerogative in one’s hands feel like can governments take hold of them again …which brings me to the topic of arts and culture.

(I in fact wrote last time that government forgets what it can do, it forgets that the labels on the buttons which stop the economy, the levers that switch it onto tracks all rusty from disuse, read use by political prerogative in EMERGENCY ONLY: of course this goes against all those commentators who want the state of emergency to have become the status quo of politics-as-usual; it goes towards the notion that the state of emergency becomes a political event when it is declared by governments so to be, that is, when it is not a declaration of economic policy and business-as-usual. Here the economies of developed (inculcated-with-neoliberal thought) nations seize a power earlier given away: it is this that inspired the earlier feeling of it being unbearable that this should be the case, and that the political seizure should be mainly unconscious.)

What are the arts and culture these days but institutions given an economic right to life? what are they except competitive examples of that which the principle of price in the market set up for arts and culture has placed among the political elect? that is, such institutions as survive in the marketplace politically set up for arts and culture are politically selected, much as we might talk about natural selection under social darwinism. Of course, the marketplace has to be set up first, and–first rule of neoliberalism–its setting up by political institutions has to be hidden, then forgotten.

In NZ, they are funding organisations for arts and culture and festival organisations, some of them charitable trusts, the ones with a right to life: the only institutions on the cultural artistic horizon which operate at the level of institutional, that is political, power. Of course, the prerogative here also hides from itself and is forgotten.

On 18 April 2020 I received an email from the New Zealand Festival, which among other things informed it was a charitable trust. The New Zealand Festival also wrote:

If you would like to play a role in supporting the
 Festival’s sustainability, New Zealand artists and arts 
workers in this extraordinarily challenging time, we 
welcome your involvement. For context, $10-$15,000 would 
enable us to commission a New Zealand company or 
artists to develop the concept stage of a new work for the
2022 Festival part-time over a period of 2-3 months. This 
would in turn provide much needed income, security and 
hope for the company’s artists. New Zealand artists, 
the very heart of our Festival, are the focus of our 
fundraising strategy right now...

The letter was signed, in a humanising, face-giving gesture, Meg Williams and Marnie Karmelita, to whom I then wrote asking if the New Zealand Festival might consider as a counterweight to this request for … charity and charitable donation, a similar letter addressing itself to artists, whose interests, in “income, security and hope,” it claimed to represent to its donors?

Would it not be appropriate to submit to artists on whose behalf it might be approaching these (its) philanthropists? I wrote. Or was the New Zealand Festival approaching its five-figure donors on its own behalf?

I was asking if charity might be due artists before it was due the charitable trust out soliciting … but not on the street … like those charity-beggars or chuggers?

In retrospect I wrongly used the word advocacy, asking if the New Zealand Festival might take on this role for real … and not something like disingenuously. (This was wrong of me because I have a habit long ago acquired of asking whether funding agencies should not be advocates to governments–to the Power–for artists, that is arts and culture. See here. My friend, U. kindly pointed this out. But in the case there is no Power!? (see above.))

I will not say I was surprised when somebody calling themselves Team Experience and Executive Coordinator, named Suzy Cain, for New Zealand Festival replied.

Kia ora Simon

Thanks for the feedback; I have sent it along to our Executive Team for you.

Please take care and all the best.

Mā te pono
Suzy Cain
Team Experience and Executive Coordinator
Tāwhiri Festivals and Experiences

As I understand it, not to be too pedantic, feedback, unless cybernetic, is a highpitched whine. No, you’re right: to be too pedantic.

OK, so we’ll take this as cybernetic.

I love the idea of supporting the New Zealand Festival … I can think of submitting a project: perhaps a season of Howard Barker plays?

First I’d have to form a company, again, from artists. The company’s support–and this on first reading was not clear to me: I thought the word company’s in the New Zealand Festival’s chugging email might be a kind of Freudian slip, the company referring rather to the trust itself than any artistic or cultural company–from your generous donation or tax right-off sponsorship would give hope, income and security to those artists … who would in fact be extremely easy to find. And involve. And company-ise or bring into an institution, like a theatre company, which could itself be formed on the (legal) basis of a charitable trust.

It might be consolidated on the basis of a charitable trust yet still support (the income, hope, security of) corporate-styled offices such as Suzy Cain describes as belonging to an Executive Team, who, might in turn be humanised and face-given by signing in their proper names, Meg Williams and Marnie Karmelita.

Although this is not at all what I wanted to say. I wanted to talk about society built on dissensus as being the model–clearly the meta-model of society–for arts and cultural involvement in the Power. Which must be at the institutional level–of arts and culture institutions–not funding organisations and festivals.

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day 29, 30 & 31

I knew that the promise of this crisis, that it didn’t make any; least of all did it promise through the slippages entailed in the political management of the crisis any reevaluation of the principles by which that political management is in government informed.

What is meant here by political management is shutting down economies; what is meant by principles are those on which the business-as-usual of economies is based. Then by reevaluation is meant the power of a political will, of government, to change those principles on which the business-as-usual of economies is based.

At best what we have had over the period of economic shutdown–which can be taken quite literally in the lockdown of the public realm to the private and domestic realm–is a vague period. It has been one of not knowing how it will come out, of not knowing if any political strategy is going to work, and of not knowing, or of having inadequate knowledge, of what is really going on.

On one side we have felt the state flexing its muscles, sometimes behind the vanity screen of voluntary adherence to social rules, and out in the open, the enforcement of an almost arbitrary authoritarianism, then through the complicity of private agents jamming police lines dobbing other citizens in for breaches, Stasi-like. On the other side we have experienced what has felt almost like an over-reaction. Although to say so is to fistpump with the types of people whose opinions Trump mainlines, so we won’t be saying that.

The enigma continues in the prospect of many workplaces becoming filled once more, but by people doing very little; the businesses themselves propped up by subsidy and returning to work workers who will have little work to do. This has been, will have been, another of those embarrassing moments when that light negligee of economic dogma has shifted–showing, unsurprisingly, but nonetheless still shockingly, no body, nobody!, underneath.

Others have been a universal living wage having been coughed out to millions without any government whining about if you don’t work for it, just die, you just die! (As it happened this was what a Russian friend said to a Chinese friend, then both laughed and said: And we both had revolutions!) And if we take into account that the pretext for this coughing up is not say so bad as some global pandemics (but we won’t say that), then has it been too easily sidelined, the economic orthodoxy of neoliberalism? Has it given up without a fight? (The enemy COVID-19 is… evil evil evil, but hardly lifethreatening to the world economy! or globalism!)

But some of the explanation can be found in the price-mechanism of Hayek-inspired (who said so? Mirowski said so!) neoliberal thinking. That is, the machine is supposed to run independently of government actions, government being relegated to irrelevance, otherwise known as governance.

Then what happens? State governments shut down the mechanisms of the market, almost as if they no longer know what they are; almost as if they have forgotten that these levers and stop buttons used to have big signs on them saying use by political prerogative IN EMERGENCY ONLY!

The market is the market’s to shut down!

What to say about the promise–some commentators have evoked the work of Mark Fisher, who talks of the present as haunted by the possible futures which have never come to pass, and now never can. Why haunted? because of the hope, because of the promise … even if it’s simply one of a technological utopia. (I recall undergoing training at primary school in how to deal with all the leisure time I was going to have to endure as an adult, when technological progress was going to have, was supposed to have, coincided with enlightened social policy.) Now the future’s here and it’s hardly what we expected. … But then the future gets here again, with COVID-19, and it’s really not what we expected!

And again it returns, the future, bearing the φάρμακον, the pharmakon, that Greek gift–think Troy as well as Austerity–Derrida so well interprets.

And with the promises of returns to work looming, for me and some young people I know, as if this were the promise, I picked up Kundera’s book Encounter. It reminded me about the role of kitsch in hiding human cruelty.

And in view of the certitudes of work, as opposed to the enigmas we have suffered through, and suffered from, I read: “The existential enigma has disappeared behind political certitude, and certitudes don’t give a damn about enigmas. This is why, despite the wealth of their lived experiences, people emerge from a historic ordeal still just as stupid as they were when they went into it.”

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field recordings 2018:02:15 09:59:32 – 2018:06:02 18:59:02 including Julian Rosenfeldt’s brilliant Manifesto & Inti restaurant’s equally brilliant food (Inti, now closed, ought to have been an icon and institution of the temporary city)

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brand “curatorial journalism”: this year more than ever before we are fighting the power (of speech)

Seth Abramson writes in the Guardian:

“In 2018, there are actually more reliable news reports than ever before, as there are now more responsible media outlets online and in print than there ever have been – a fact that often gets lost in debates over “fake news”. The digital age has also internationalized hard news reportage, meaning that readers have access to high-quality reports from around the world with an ease that was impossible before the advent of the internet.

“But this sudden expansion in focused, reliable news coverage has coincided with some of the largest and most prestigious media outlets cutting resources for investigative reporting. The upshot of all this is that reporters have less time or ability than ever before to review the growing archive of prior reporting before they publish what they’ve uncovered.”

He goes on to advocate (advertise) curatorial journalism. It’s like journalism but smarter. It’s all about context–that other dream of the net: hyperlinks as hypereferences and the interweb interweaving texts and documents and statements, online discourse in short, in multidimensional networks so that any one thread, quote, citation, reference might be followed back to its earliest online expression; or connected horizontally, and so on. But this is not the system we have.

We are therefore once again living in that exceptional present which would have been the future if it hadn’t already arrived, that exception that is always made for this year having more reliable news reports than ever before as well as more unreliable news sources than ever before as well as more words expended on, well, just about anything–taking into consideration the rise of text over speech in daily communication–than ever before.

The answer might have been, had Seth Abramson been so inclined, journalism with a scalpel. And we might well have been saying about our exceptional present moment, as well we might, that the time for journalistic balance has passed. The idea of a report being neutral, and of it presenting both sides of an issue, or curating the multiple facets of a complex ‘story’, belongs to the past. We might so have been saying. But what is of our devising, as the present is supposed to be, in the Anthropocene, is smarter than us–is supposed to be: so we are in the predicament of making sense, sense for an audience in the case of journalism, of a situation, a situatedness, of a realtime-base for issues, we have carelessly, hopelessly and unconscionably complexificated.

Journalism with a scalpel would offer a different diagnosis: maybe cut first ask questions later–maybe, but with the surgeon-reporter being held accountable. And perhaps more than events and issues becoming more complex, more deeply intricated and extensively imbricated, than ever before, issues and events have become more integrated, more deeply intimated and extensively implicated–in the social, for sure, but, as surely, in the personal.

Having an opinion is a public liability. Have a stupid opinion! Say “to be honest” a lot, honestly. Or imho, modestly. Have a stupid, make a stupid tweet, and the world is cheeping with you.

Imagine the informed writing to the level of the educated. Imagine no more–because in fact more informed journalists are writing to a better educated public than ever before this year. Of course this year stupidity has been normalised as populism too.

I find myself–more honestly, I lose myself–walking in a library modestly wondering what it is for, since it doesn’t itself seem to know. And the ones who work here give the others who don’t, who used to be members and who now are customers, or patrons, the resentful eye, while adverting to the latest electronic offering, whether it is wifi, or the latest pulp fiction or pulp nonfiction (pulp fact? fat nonfict?) available via the app. Like Seth Abramson, in the Guardian, I have been an advocate (advertiser? advertisement?) for curation: librarianship, isn’t it a matter of leading the social animal to the cultural water? Making better animals to make a better social? (Dot says, But you can’t make it think.)

These GOSPIS (Grand Old Signs one Participates In Society), like the Grand Old Deity itself, in whom, and in which, more people put their faith and believe, with honesty and modesty, than ever before–even to being pridefully jealous of the competition (this year more nationalistic than ever before)–have lost their tongues. Journalism must–you can’t fight it!–progress by borrowing ways of talking about itself and its essential tasks from, where? the operating theatre? or the art gallery?

Then the idea of information has lost its teeth. Open mouth, ah. Closed mouth, mm. We know there is more information than ever before, this year, and that’s why it’s called Big D. Journalists are among the data miners. But there isn’t the time and there isn’t the return, and this is the latter. Who wants to live forever? No, that’s not the question: Who wants to pay for information?

And libraries, going forward–resistance is futile!–, borrow ways of talking about themselves and their essential tasks from? They don’t borrow. They’re told how to speak for themselves by those who, usually those which, since they tend to be annexed to institutions, of which they once were the jewels in the crown, fund them. They are told how to speak for themselves so as not to try the patience of the daleks. Who or which will cease to fund them if they were suddenly to speak for themselves, since they would be asking for it, for extermination.

Yes, good journalism once it too was something to show off, now it’s tackling the big issues, scoring the big anchors, more than ever before this year. Just like a university was the institutional encrustation of a library. It was the paste and setting for the cultural riches collected over time, protected over the bad times, saved to adorn the good, through careful, assiduous, committed and (need it be said?) professional librarianship. But middle management detests decoration, for which there will be more martyrs than ever before, this year, mouthing silently the words written on the wallpaper, God Save Us & Oscar Wilde… and for the journalists we will add, George Orwell…

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The Moral Left

The political (read: economic) bankruptcy (read: extra-economic) of the Left has made a necessity of virtuousness (read: morality). What used to be the Moral Right (and under Reagan the Moral Majority) has been displaced by the Moral Left: this is everything from LBGT to the Green rights of environmentalists and… exactly where its hem begins to fray is the bruited-about Crisis of Value, in other words Crisis of Middle-Class Values. The rights of the family are of course complicated by families of nonhetero albeit heterogeneous makeup. The rights to property are complicated by rights of access, for example, of copyright to knowledge: all coming under the swelling sphere of the commons.

The point here is: the Left used to be about policy, now it is about a moral stance; while the Right has policy like an iron bar that it cannot pass.

What is hateful in this and disastrous for an oppositional, not to say critical politic, is the caving of the notion of value itself, which is now tethered to the somewhat redundant operation of capital, where so many other options of funding are now so much more readily available and applicable, new venture capitalism and entrepeneurship having become a game for the very wealthy and the very stupid. The question as to whether these are mutually irreducible categories is overtaken by the political bankruptcy and unwillingness of the Left to enter discussions at an intellectual advantage–in case it is accused of Rightwing privilege.

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Douglas Lain of Zero Books interviews Slavoj Žižek

Marx’s labour theory of value: there’s something strange about what Žižek calls Lain’s metaphor of the “good Christian boy” who wants to believe.

And there’s something strange about the circularity of Žižek’s argument, as a populist philosopher, about the horror of the Left’s reactiveness to the Right’s activation of erstwhile Leftist policy platforms for, exactly, their populism: Marine Le Pen’s stand on easier access to healthcare and greater support for pregnant mothers, for example. (But then these can be seen as what Michel Houellebecq calls “nativist” concerns (in Submission): encouraging the put-upon ‘ethnic French’ populace to up birthrates, live longer, than immigrant sectors.) Žižek is saying something when he reports the comment of a friend: now the Left moralise, where they used to politicise; and the Right politicise, where they used to moralise: immigration is a moral and humanitarian issue for the Left; it is a political opportunity that the Right exploits. … Žižek’s call for the self-criticism of ‘us’ “progressives”, what does it mean?

We should spend less time judging statements like his, that if he could have he would have voted for Trump? And more time doing what?

It might get close to Nietzsche’s critique of reactive politics and affirmation of active policy … but is stymied by Hegelian dialectic and Lacanian (inbuilt) negative disavowal, the double-negative logic of not not affirming.

What the Left could use is some Nietzsche. I used to think not, but Nietzsche’s excoriation of those who set their values on a continuum orientated towards the best cover up value judgements that are from the start moral interpretations, moralisations.

The Left’s looking for a better way than the Right is only to perform the Hegelian dialectic dance of if you go that way, than I’ll go this way.

Here’s the link to the interview. See what you think. LINK.

…as for the labour theory of value and Žižek’s call to “de-substantialise” it, isn’t this precisely what is assayed in Anti-Oedipus (along with a critique of Lacan) and A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari?

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——why?————————–why not?—————-has he not suffered enough?————-are they formation walkers?——————yes

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Responsibilty reports

The first alcohol monopoly ever started in the mid 1800s in Sweden. It worked so well that the model was spread all over the country. In 1955, the local companies were merged to form a single, national Systembolaget company, a concept which still works.

from here

the same kind of ‘responsibility’ or ‘ethical’ understanding standing under the Responsible Lending Code introduced by law in New Zealand this year … (see here)

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profit and loss: Bruce Barber & Milo Moiré

Bruce Barber in his lecture yesterday, given as part of the Action and Delay conference hosted by AUT, raised for me the question – what is meant by performance in the ‘art world’, and in the institution in which I currently find myself? Why, indeed, would I want to align myself with it, if, as Bruce suggested, after Gregory Sholette, the vast pyramidal-base-sized majority of artists, those engaged in performance, he seemed to intimate, preeminently, are destined to become the ‘dark matter’, their efforts and their art invisible, that holds the Ponzi scheme together and keeps it from flying apart? While a few, as few as there are Russian oligarchs, profit from the existence of an art market, succeeding as artists, at the rarefied tip of the pyramid, they would hurtle off into non-existence without the infrastructural support of curators and managers, middle-men, critics, publications, research interest, courses and conferences that the vast and overwhelming mass of those who will never accede to such heights – or such success, failing inevitably – enables, the existence of which it feeds and feeds on, as an underwater milieu and vast sea-bottom.

What is at stake in ‘performance practice’ as used in this milieu? It seems on the face of it that performance practice is the last place to think about and reflect on performance or think through what it is. Even the documentation has a tendency to collapse into or onto the practice. Whatever thinking goes in to the practice occurs before the outcome which is generically the performance itself.

My understanding of a practice is however exactly the thinking through, about and reflection on the methods, beliefs and ideas that are brought to it, to itself think, and reflect on itself. The question, ‘how does performance think?’ seems to arise less in the milieu of performance than in theatre. The difference being that the performer thinks in theatre through the practice of performance – which is what is meant by technique, acting technique. While the performance artist expresses herself in acting, in an action, intervention, interaction, all the inter-s, she does not interrogate the practice except in research or theory – the technical practice being relegated to a position outside the performance.

The performance artist does not generally have the technical means to think in performance. The performance is an outcome of thought.

How the theatre actor thinks is in the technique of making transitions between states of being in performance, during performance. This insight is due to Esa Kirkkopelto.

Milo Moiré’s performance, PlopEgg #1, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKFZOIv5sS0 and at her website http://www.milomoire.com/ has the theatrical components of a technical mise-en-scène – the trestles and scaffold platforms, the canvas support for the finished Rorschach – and the strangley improvised modesty curtain behind which the performer inserts paint-filled eggs into her vagina. She has a stage-manager manoeuvre the latter at several intervals allowing her to refill. But the performance as performance according to the art-world milieu and the tenets of its self-understanding is not and could not be acted – there is only one state of being in the performance, between which the transitions are of low interest in technical terms: between Milo in performance and Milo preparing, backstage, behind the modesty curtain; between Milo pushing out eggs and Milo taking care of the business – albeit nude – of rolling and folding the paint squibs in a canvas. The canvas, it might be said, folds into the performance as its documentation. But the performance is the one repeatable action or operation of plopping eggs.

Where in this performance would there be room to think? As Bruce Barber pointed out, with the Paypal price for the uncensored version of the video at 4.99 Euros and the YouTube views at over 4 million, the thought is, how much money could Milo Moiré potentially make? The success or failure of this performance as performance rests on its reproducibility and functional iterability (this is PlopEgg #1) and statistical and quantitive considerations.

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society speaks – celebrity roast busters –

and contrary to Margaret Thatcher’s assertion that society does not exist, something seems to have stirred the ashes and provoked a moralising media Hydra. It is a monster that invokes its own monstrosity in naming those it condemns: who are horrible monsters, who leave us crying with rage, who are condemned for crimes without proof of guilt or of innocence apart from that aroused by consensus in the media. They are of course simulacral crimes waving their wands over the waste, simulacral but not fake crimes, crimes the punishment for which insists most fervidly on silencing the perpetrators, in other words, removing them from the consensus they seem to have created and erred against, banning them from participation in the society they gratify by bolstering it in its sodality as contra, as pure shared revenge, resentment, as sharing and liking sharing itself – sharing, that is, its lust to see itself in its own lights as good and just, moral and true. What happens when the monsters speak? but the monsters are chattering now all at once!

Giovanni Tiso, fellow blogger, I salute you! Psychology lecturer, Neville Robertson – who can find boys guilty of rape by intention and then aberrantly claim that outrage at the behaviour is understandable but should also be directed at “the social conditions which helped create it.” [here]

The appearance of the ministers has its wistfully ironic overtones: Police Minister Anna Tolley and Justice Minister Judith Collins simper from under their slap urging “the young female victims of the Roast Busters sex gang to find the courage to come forward and give evidence.” [here] Why? So that justice with the requisite police enforcement – and allocation of resources – can be seen to be done.

They went into it wanting fame. Now the police are advising them on their own safety. Safety from whom? well, from society, of course!

Do I hate that these young people have become a “teen rape group”? [here] No. I think there ought to be a pussy riot.

The cost of morality is however counted as the value of advertising to Radio Live (to quote in full because it fills me with hope for a backlash or a front to backlash or front lash with ermine trim – because where, after all, have shame and taste gone? – and, since I find myself in this heady parenthesis, cui bono? the girls whose honour is in question? What, in fact, about their shame? the erstwhile left whose pusillanimous outpourings have them sound more like the moral majority? What does Giovanni Tiso gain? What do I?):

ANZ, Yellow and Freeview have confirmed they are cancelling their ads on the show, and AA Insurance has indicated the same.

It came after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted around 30 companies which advertised on the Willie and JT Show yesterday, asking them if they would reconsider their support of the programme.

He has so far received four responses, only one of which, from Countdown, said they were retaining their contract with the station.

here

I would like to end by asking Roast Busters? ‘Roasts’ are allegedly those naughty parties exaggerated and problematised online – or otherwise ‘busted’ [here] I am aware of another kind of roast, called the Celebrity Roast.

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