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scholasticide in Gaza | a public note on grammar @LitHub

A group of academics affiliated with North American institutions have1 written an open letter condemning the ongoing scholasticide2 in Gaza. This marks the most recent collective gesture in a series of statements from anti-genocidal3 culture workers.4 But unlike other expressions of solidarity,5 this letter—with its 2000-and-counting signatories—primarily focuses on “Israel’s systematic attacks on educational life.”6 – (source)

  1. No. The subject of the sentence is singular, group. In order that it is in grammatical agreement, unless this is a group of anti-grammatical culture workers (see notes 3 and 4), the verb ought to be has.
  2. The source, at LitHub, in an article by Brittany Allen dated 10 April 2024, links from “scholasticide” to an article hosted on the Scholars Against War on Palestine website stating that the word refers to a “pattern of Israeli colonial attacks on Palestinian scholars, students, and educational institutions going back to the Nakba of 1948, and expanding after the 1967 war on Palestine and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.” (source)
  3. Just as an anti-pyramidal group would not be against pyramids but against having the structure of one, or anti-suicidal cultural workers would not be against suicide on principle, just their own, so an anti-genocidal group would be one that does not practice genocide, on its members, for example.
  4. There is really no problem with “culture workers” except that it sounds bacterial, and, needlessly apologetic, like a nod to the culture industry, where we the workers harvest petri dishes of art and books… cos we can handle the stink of em.
  5. see note 4.
  6. see notes 3 and 1. The education referred to here is from life. The life is educational. The intention is on the contrary that the life is not the education, to which Israel’s systematic attacks, did they not end so many lives, would contribute, but that Israel’s agenda, enacted as the system of attacks, is the destruction of scholastic institutions, including libraries. (see post)

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[¿] advocacy’s antonym = complicity [?] {interrupted by Lavender}

… going through the sale theory books at Verso, striking how monotonous the refrain is that these books deal with the present.

Strikes me, because it is exactly of the present that we are forgetful.

back to Verso:

Book after book:

  • in Glitch Feminism the divide between the digital and the real world no longer exists (Legacy Russell)
  • in Immediacy, or The Style of Too Late Capitalism contemporary cultural style boosts (what else?) transparency and immediacy, values absorbed from our current (!) conditions of disintermediation, meaning services like Uber “but for art” (!?) cutting out the middle man … “Immediacy names this style …” (Anna Kornbluh)
  • On the New … need I say more (Boris Groys)
  • 24/7: the ruinous consequences of “the expanding non-stop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism” … [here a blending of uber-timeliness and a super-over-determining temporality: like China Miéville’s train in Iron Council that lays down its track in front of it.] (Johnathan Crary)
  • Hal Foster in What Comes After Farce? confronts the present: where does the “double predicament” (o, innumerable predicaments; perhaps best to characterise the present as predicamental) of post-truth and post-shame politics leave “artists and critics on the left?”
  • Hito Steyerl “wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, [sic] in the present age.”
  • In The Social Photo the rise of the smart phone and social media have made cameras ubiquitous. They are “infiltrating,” like enemy operatives, nearly every aspect of social life, their screens glowing with malicious intent. (Nathan Jurgenson)
  • “Given our anxieties today about the impact of Artificial Intelligence on labour and art,” Abigail Susek, herself an author of books, writes on With and Against, that Dominique Routhier’s study of the Situationist International “could not be more timely.” I didn’t know that Guy Debord wrote about the impact of AI on labour and art. It makes me anxious to think that maybe he did.
  • on the Situationists again, in McKenzie Wark’s The Beach Beneath the Street, their legacy continues to inspire activists, artists and theorists around the world, up to the present we’re living in right now.
  • in Automation and the Future of Work, we’re living on the cusp of rapid technological automation heralding the end of work. (Aaron Benanav)
  • Henri Lefebvre’s Critique of Everyday Life is just that in three volumes.
  • increased politicisation of artistic practice since the twentieth century’s “bleak” beginning (Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde, John Roberts), neoliberalism’s failure and austerity forcing millions into the precariat, leaving the left trapped in “stagnant political practices that offer no respite” [my emph.] in its sequel (Inventing the Future, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams).
  • Many people have to “double-down” on wage-slavery, working harder, doing overtime and learning to hustle. (Jason Read’s The Double Shift: Spinoza and Marx on the Politics of Work) A must read for students of contemporary capitalism, says Kathi Weeks.
  • Work on the contemporary scene also the topic of Frédéric Lordon’s Willing Slaves of Capital. Renewed interest in communism allegedly paired with an “abandonment of any concrete political perspective in Communism and Strategy (Isabelle Garo). The breaking of the iron law of social reproduction in Transclasses, Chantal Jacquet.
  • Systems Ultra describes a world of networked technologies, global supply chains and supranational regulations we are told is impossible to understand and far beyond our control. (Georgina Voss)
  • James Bridle’s New Dark Age: we live in times of increasing inscrutability. Sinews of War and Trade: China is now the factory of the world. A “parade” of ships full of raw commodities, iron ore, oil, coal, arrive in its ports and “fleets” of container ships leave full of manufactured goods (Laleh Kahlili). The key to understanding the future lies in the past in Lizzie O’Shea’s Future Histories. Road to Nowhere shows us what Silicon Valley, in the words of the subtitle, gets wrong about the future of transportation (by the wonderfully named Paris Marx). Everywhere we turn a “startling” new device promises to transfigure our lives (if not revolutionise them). That’s Radical Technologies, Adam Greenfield.
  • While in an “original and timely book,” well, aren’t they all? Matteo Pasquinelli unpacks the intelligence of artificial intelligence. At a moment, just this moment, “when apostles and prophets” proclaim both a “utopian world of effortless control and a catastrophe of extinction.” (The Eye of the Master)
  • our finances, politics, media, opportunities, information, shopping and knowledge production are mediated through algorithms in Revolutionary Mathematics, Justin Joque (really). And what happened to the public intellectuals “that” used to challenge and inform us? asks McKenzie Wark in General Intellects, generally answering their own question. Who can argue with Fredric Jameson? It’s an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World and the social disintegration of the Third World where the question of utopia is possibly meaningless. (Archeologies of the Future)
  • our standing, walking body holds the social traumas of history and its racialised inequalities, even, in How We Walk, Matthew Beaumont.
  • walking in the other direction, by walking you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history (A Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros).
  • in the history of colonialism, racism, sexism, capitalism, there has long been a dividing line between bodies “worthy of defending” and those who have been disarmed and rendered defenseless. Illustrations will be found. (Self-Defense, Elsa Dorlin)
  • the crisis-laden capitalism of the 21st century lingers on (possibly because so does the 21st century) in Mute Compulsion, Søren Mau. Don’t despair, one of them was saved: in The New Spirit of Capitalism sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello go to the heart of changes in contemporary capitalism. Don’t presume, theories of “postmodern” fragmentation, “difference” and contingency can barely accommodate the idea of capitalism, Ellen Meiksins Wood, Democracy Against Capitalism. One of them was damned.
  • an increasingly authoritarian present. This is Late Fascism, Alberto Toscano.
  • from the outset liberalism, as a philosophical position and ideology, has been bound up with the most illiberal of policies: slavery, colonialism, genocide, racism and, worse, snobbery. Liberalism, Domenico Losurdo.
  • Jessica Whyte uncovers the place of human rights in attempts to develop a moral framework for a market society. Rather than rejecting rights, neoliberals developed a distinctive account of human rights as tools to depoliticise civil society, protect private investments and shape liberal subjects. The Morals of the Market, human rights in their fatal embrace.
  • contemporary debates on Black radicalism and decolonisation have lost sight of the concerns that animated their twentieth-century intellectual forebears. Red Africa, Kevin Ochieng Okoth.
  • another school, another legacy. The Frankfurt School, Immanent Critiques, Martin Jay; the work done by its founding members continues in the twenty-first century to unsettle conventional wisdom about culture, society and politics, Splinters in Your Eye, also Martin Jay.
  • unsparing in its contention that with almost no exceptions the post-Hegelian tradition prepared the ground for fascist thought. The main culprits, Friedrich Nietzsche and Martín Heidegger are accused, in turn, of introducing irrationalism into social and philosophical thought, pronounced antagonism to the idea of progress in history, an aristocratic view of the masses and, consequently, hostility to socialism, in its classic expression comprising movements for popular democracy, especially, not exclusively, the expropriation of most private property in terms of material production. Georg Lukács, The Destruction of Reason.
  • Why do Benjamin, Adorno, Marcuse, Horkheimer matter today? in the words of the title of another book, the ruthless critique of everything existing (Andrew Feenberg) but, this one, Stuart Jeffries’s Grand Hotel Abyss, to end on an up note, looks much more fun.

>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<

The chain of association I form with the term advocacy leads directly to the New Zealand Arts Council, aka Creative New Zealand, aka the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council and, it will not be spoken but it must now be since as such it is in statute, the King Charles III Arts Council of New Zealand.

Why it should do so is not very interesting but that it might help clarify the meaning of advocacy might be.

What the Arts Council’s role is is a matter for policy, where, in the making of policy, for arts and culture, there has over successive governments in NZ been nothing.

Once upon a time the role of the Arts Council was funding and, at an even greater distance in time from us, once upon a time, the legend goes, the role of the Arts Council was advocacy, to advocate, on behalf of artists and arts organisations, to the government. It seems absurd now. That government would have, would ever have had, council officials turning up asking for this or that on behalf of artists, even $$$, seems absurd, especially $$$. Everyone now knows that the government’s job is to save not spend, to pay overseas debt. Payments were reported in September 2023 to be at @3% of USD204,500,000,000, going by the exchange rate 23 March 2024, that’s NZ$341,060,805,500, so NZ$11,368,693,516,666.67 per anum.

In 2000 I had the idea, although the figures were not as overwhelming and the prospect not as absurd of asking for $$$, that advocacy might take another form. Advocacy might take a political form and the Arts Council advocate for the political protection of artists and arts organisations.

The Arts Council could advocate on behalf of artists and arts organisations that what they do, the making they do of art works of every form, be given political protection under statute, the statute, it turns out, already in place at the foundation of the Arts Council, of being a patron. The Arts Council, a crown entity, is in statute under the patronage of his Royal Highness Charles III.

Political protection, that of patronage, would confer on artists and arts organisations a positive freedom, the legal right guaranteed by the legislature, the legal right to cultural production. Artists and arts organisations would be free to make art in whatever form they wished. The central question would cease to be, Where’s the money supposed to come from? And so would the central answer. Funding policy should then be directed to vouchsafing to those artists and arts organisations no more and no less than the freedom to create.

I wrote that this political principle was higher than the economic principle here.

Today I think of this as a positive statement and opposed to the sort of objective view that would repeat the economic question and answer’s centrality in arts’ funding, Where’s the money supposed to come from? To the question of funding it opposes that of advocacy, its answer that higher than the economic principle (of patronage) is the political principle (of patronage) protecting the creative freedom of artist and arts organisation.

I also think of advocacy in this positive sense as opposing the diagnostic view that would simply repeat the problems faced by artists and arts organisations in New Zealand Aotearoa. |…|

legitimating them |…|

|…| = break

the occasion for the above reverie was Shayne Carter’s

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>&

for another occasion, a post from CNZ on F___B___:

this was posted as

in the creative community, we are all now arts advocates, while CNZ is …?

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have you heard the one about … : kinda a follow-on from the yobbism post

With serendipitous timing Adam Shatz’s Writers and Missionaries: Essays on the Radical Imagination (Verso, 2023) arrived today, serendipitous because of what I left out of said yobbism post. I had Oliver Bottini say it instead. There it came down to no longer belonging to a community of whatever sort and not missing it but instead missing the feeling that what one said, did and wrote was in some sense an answer to that community, had a necessity, the necessity of being answerable.

This is Levinas’s definition of responsibility. It has an ethical dimension that is absolute. God, for Levinas, is an individual to whom one is answerable.

In turn we are put in mind of Lingis’s categorical imperative. I made it the basis of the last phase of Minus Theatre’s work.

Lingis takes categorical imperative from Kant for whom it was, in Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, 1785), those foundations or that groundwork, the basis of moral obligation. Lingis takes this literally. He invokes the ground, the earth the other stands on, the air the other breathes, the fire of life in her, the water life in him depends on, the elements. Here, like Levinas, he says the basis of ethical behaviour is in a disposition towards the absolute other, God-the-individual.

He has us in a supermarket in a country where we don’t speak the language. Someone in front at the checkout turns to us. They smile in recognition at our mutual helplessness before the elemental dependence we share, both of us. We smile back in recognition of what the elements make imperative: we stand on the ground, we breathe the air, we are warm with life and our bodies, watery objects, move and flow in time. Perhaps we are not conscious of this but the point is that we can recognise it, we can recognise it in our disposition towards the other, as an absolute, an imperative.

Or the other calls on us by name, Hey, Simon! And I find I have to answer without the mask of a social role but in my own name. I affirm in so answering that I am answerable. I choose for this, in my own name, I exist, Simon.

Or we are ill and illness pushes us up tight against the body. It is unescapable, the unavoidable fact of our existence, its dependencies absolute. Take them away and we cease.

In Minus Theatre, a development of our practice that I didn’t carry over into the exegesis but was the reason I called it Minus Theatre: Scenes | Elements, this elemental imperative was to be consciously recognised. It took time. One actor faced another across a distance that became significant since it contained air, the air both were breathing, ground, the earth that let them stand, warmth, the warmth from their breath and bodies, and the moisture, the wateryness of those bodies in their movements. And then one would move … and the other would become answerable to that movement. The movement need be no bigger than a smile.

Yes, there is this community and the question it posed to me too to which I was answerable. I was after all responsible for this group, Minus Theatre, coming together; although it was my practice for a PhD. it was a group practice that that work followed.

And there is the community into which I politically awakened in 1981. This was not only the year of Halt All Racist Tours, the year we protested the visit of the Springboks to New Zealand. This was the year the union, Actors’ Equity, a poor thing now, took all actors out on strike, technical staff joining them in solidarity. (Some of the history is here.) Theatre’s were closed, the professional theatres, the profession a poor thing too, the community theatres. Almost unspeakable now, there had been 10 of them, in all the major centres, the communities, in NZ. And to speak about it is what that political awakening asked from me. To Whom Can I Speak Today?–the words of a poem adapted by Lambchop as the following lyric, also covered by David Byrne, the link for which at the Dalhousie University bears this note, (A dispute over suicide, Egypt, before 2000 BC):

To whom can I speak today?
The brothers they are evil
But the old friends of today
They have become unlovable
To whom can I speak today?
The gentleness has perished
And the violent man has come down on everyone

To whom can I speak today?
The wrong which roams the earth
There can be no end to it
It is just unstoppable
Death is in my sights today
And when a man desires
To see home after many years in jail

February through December
We had such a tragic year
As separate as the fingers
Or suddenly
As one
As the hand

And the violent man comes down on everyone
And the violent man comes down on everyone
And the violent man comes down on
Everyone

It’s odd to see how much of my work is a struggle with the idea of community. Political philosopher Roberto Esposito brings the ideas of community and immunity together. They are from the same root, munus, meaning an individual’s service or duty to the public body, including and going up to the sacrifice of his or her body, for example in the gladiatorial arena. And I suppose it could be seen to include self-sacrifice in the political arena or self-immolation.

Esposito does something similar to Benjamin, in suggesting that when state-violence enters into the moral relations of a cause it becomes yobbism or, in the old style, totalitarian. He points out that if a positive value is attached to us to distinguish us from them the result is totalitarianism, so that the positive way through is to choose for the negative, the nothing, the void, which must then itself be annulled.

With regard to community, Esposito writes, “It’s only through the abolition of its nothing that the thing can finally be fulfilled. Yet the realization of the thing, which is necessarily phantasmic, is precisely the objective of totalitarianism.”

I’d heard the one about the death of the author. From the eponymously titled essay by Roland Barthes, 1967: “It is language which speaks, not the author” … To assign an author is to foreclose on the possible meanings of the writing.

I hadn’t heard the one that Shatz, in Writers and Missionaries, follows it up with: Foucault defines the author as “the principle of thrift in the proliferation of meaning.”

Foucault two years later undoes what Barthes does: not the author’s suicide but a principle of thrift applies.

Barthes is calling for meanings to proliferate, Foucault calling for de-proliferation. The reader is a means to proliferation, the author a means to de-proliferation, of meaning: a sponge, a filter or screen.

Shatz reads as the antidote to Claire Dederer’s Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma. That book set out the dilemma of our choices as consumers being raised to the status of ethical decisions. The dilemma is what we choose to avow has too much meaning, meaning that continues as it prolongs the meaning that preceded it, meaning that we cannot shake, choosing to or choosing not to, not to see, read, serve, work, listen, feel and so on. Shatz says,

“In this book, I try to describe how such works [as have changed the way we think about the world as have Wright’s Native Son, Lévi-Strauss’s Triste Tropiques, Derrida’s Of Grammatology, Barthes’s Camera Lucida, Said’s Orientalism, Lanzmann’s Shoah] came into being: their position in intellectual history, but also their place in the lives of their creators. I make no attempt to present their authors as models for contemporary emulation or social media branding.”

… and,

“The flaws that I describe may, for some, call into question the value of my subjects’ achievements. That is not my view. It is impossible to study intellectual history without suffering heartbreak from time to time. (Just think of Arendt on Little Rock, Chomsky on Cambodia, Foucault on Iran, Angela Davis on East Germany, Sartre on Israel, Malcolm X on gender, or any number of writers on Stalinism.)” … “The purpose of these essays is not to establish a moral balance sheet but rather to explore the difficult and sometimes perilous practice of the engaged intellectual: the wrenching demands that the world imposes on the mind as it seeks to liberate itself from various forms of captivity.”

Explaining what to liberate means, Sartre:

“And he captured the desire for freedom that, as he saw it, lies behind all creative writing. Freedom, he insisted, is ‘at the origin’ of writing, since ‘no one is obliged to choose himself as a writer.’ Writing, therefore, ‘is a certain way of wanting freedom; once you have begun, you are committed.'”

3% writes D. to me, the 97% need to be able to other 3% of its number, just to be safe. And, therefore, the 3% have this service to perform of being the inside-outsiders.

What if no matter how many are othered there is no safety to be found?

Is it the same thing, human advantage over other humans, as has driven the biological advantage of humans over other animals? And would this not be less technology, technical advancement through prostheses, than social advancement? the need for variation within human community leading to big-brain-edness being therefore the big social brain of humans compared to other species (with perhaps the exception of aquatic mammals and primates who are also social-brained)?

Communities in Esposito’s political deontology have to be destroyed that are improper. These are the ones who abjure social relations, who keep their gifts for themselves, sharing economies. The social organisation crushes them and keeps a blank space where the obligation of relation was, that obligation which led to those services (of munus, munera) rendered within community, the commitments made by individuals to each other. It becomes an immunological space … of nothing given that is not first discounted for being an improper use of time, work, commitment, freedom and so on and displaced by symbolic exchange, by a conventional sign that sits on nothing and so annuls nothing.

For example this library has been made into a council service centre. A fellow librarian was subjected to a complaint regarding roading. I suggested posting it as anonymous on behalf of the complainant on the Auckland Transport website, since roading is not within the remit of council, however, the library is. We are council employees. This has allowed to the service of being a library the addition of extra services to the public.

Librarians here are council officers so I ought to have said that it’s not within our remit to deal with complaints in regard to roads but, I abjure this relation.

Does this mean that librarians form some kind of community on the basis of holding the relation to council in contempt? It would be one where we share amongst ourselves values that do not fit and are improper; it would be an improper community: but council does not go out of its way to crush it. It would rather turn libraries into a sort of parasite.

The reason is the yobbism that prevails prevails in general and librarians are complicit in it. We are not then we but further divide. We are dividual.

The evidence for this yobbism in the library has everything to do with work culture, in the old style, and a downgrading of, professionalism. So it goes to an ethical consideration, the ethical consideration of what constitutes professional practice and practices.

The library has become a parasite on technical culture and it is this that has detrimented library practices, or, as has been said here, destroyed the profession. It can be said then council, through its technical culture and its imposition of a work culture in its place, has brought about the destruction of the professional community.

Now what the object was above in speaking of the place of nothing that replaces community, in the example professional community, is both to draw attention to the void left and how a shifting series of signs nullifies it. Among these can be counted the imposition of work culture that no longer has a chain of command but a reporting line, that is no longer designated library service but is part of connected communities.

Nullification can take the form of doubling and simulating. How we know it’s a double is the plural. There are always small flaws in the simulation. Of course this is how we recognise God’s work as well, by its small cracks, by the irreality that survives in its interstices.

We might talk about AI as the grossest yobbism of technical culture.

“We, the indivisible divinity that operates within us, have dreamt the world. We have dreamt it resistant, mysterious, visible, ubiquitous in space and firm in time. But we have consented within its architecture tenuous and eternal interstices of unreason to know that it is false.”

— Jorge Luis Borges, “Avatars of the Tortoise”

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the yobbism of the given

The tenets of civilisation are now being written by the authors of the gravest barbarity. Times have changed since Walter Benjamin’s day.

I’m informed I’m up to 1,990 posts and 298 pages. My father before he died said, Life is too short to read square white world.

Space is a social construct within the many, many, many dimensions of time. The notion offers no consolation to people who cannot negotiate the space they’re in, like animals, in the words of the title of Gilles Châtelet’s book–To Live and Think Like Pigs: The Incitement of Envy and Boredom in Market Democracies.

Justin Clemens reviewing my doctoral thesis lauded the concept of minoritarian conventionalism. I had a very specific context when I came up with the idea, a group formed around my practice, Minus Theatre.

We can choose the conventions we follow so long as we limit the number of people included in the subject, we. If we do not we are bound to follow the conventions of the space and spaces we inhabit, the same for any other animal in its habitat.

The point is elective rather than selective. It’s out of habit that we say the sun will rise, and rise in the West; the beginning of science fiction: the sun rose in the East.

Deleuze follows the line of Spinoza, Hume and Nietzsche, on his own and then with Guattari. This line is not of good sense and public morality and not, according to the conventions, determined to be natural and belong to human nature, we have no choice but to accept, of common sense.

I have left Bergson out but he can be placed anywhere in relation to the other points on the line, which are, a body’s powers of action are in relation to its power to be affected (Spinoza), custom is to the social as habit is to the individual: both may be chosen (Hume), and the social is the sum result of the choice of those forces that would affirm it in its values and that only return through the individual’s re-affirmation of them, that is, as resentment (Nietzsche). All three concern the basis of freedom that Bergson leaves undefined because it is in indetermination.

Music, the answer is music. “He had the great courage to place his knowledge and energy at the service of a cause that could never be won in a single lifetime, at any price. Fighting doggedly in a western world traumatised by guilt at having allowed the genocide of the Jews to happen, while having redeemed itself on the cheap at the cost of denial and blindness in relation to the Palestinians, Said managed to maintain his positions without ever ceding an inch of his territory to the anti-Semitism he abhorred to the same degree.”

Dominique Eddé is writing about Edward Said. Said and Daniel Barenboim together founded the Divan Orchestra, now known as the West-Eastern, its website here.

Friends, Said and Barenboim, the website tells us, together “realised the urgent need for an alternative way to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The most recent post on Divan’s website, an opinion piece by Barenboim, is dated 16 October 2023. Today’s date is 23 February 2024.

As at 21 February 2024, Al Jazeera reports a death toll of 29,708 Palestinians and 1,139 since 7 October 2023 in Israel. Of the first number, it reports 12,300 were children and 8,400 women.

Common sense and good sense are like night and day, which does not mean there is not a twilight, an horizon between them, a morning light and a growing gloom. On 31 October 2023 Le Monde featured an opinion piece by Dominique Eddé, author of Edward Said: His Thought as a Novel.

She writes there, “it is time for each and every one of us to make a huge effort if we do not want barbarism to triumph at our gates.” She echoes Walter Benjamin, who, according to his friend, Gershom Scholem, held that were three things Zionism must abandon, its racism and “racist ideology” and its “‘blood experience’ arguments.” (source)

… “a cause”, writes Benjamin, “becomes violent, in the precise sense of the word, when it enters into moral relations.” The source cited above links to that for this statement and also provides a gloss on Benjamin’s essay in which the statement occurs, “Zur Kritik der Gewalt.”

Benjamin’s word for violence, Gewalt, is defined as state-violence. State-violence when it enters into the moral relations of a cause becomes yobbism, we might say.

Is there any state and any state-violence that has not currently entered into the moral relations of a cause? How, when the given is yobbism, take up a cause against this cause?

Victor Double said to me, Thank you for your help, Mr Taylor. My help consisted of contacting AT (Auckland Transport) on his behalf, as an AT agent, about which I could say more, since I work at a public library, to ask that his AT Gold Card be credited with the price of his ferry ticket, approximately NZ$30 from downtown Auckland.

Since the Gold Card allows the holder free travel on public transport if used before 9am, he had he felt been wrongly charged. He’d caught the 9am ferry which boarded at five minutes to, he explained; he didn’t usually travel with his poodle; and there were a lot of people, tourists, to board.

He gave his name, asked to confirm his identity, and, asked for his date of birth, he hesitated before giving the year, 1939. He was, he said, afraid that made him 85.

Were they going to refund him? A query would be raised, for review and, pending that, no definite answer.

I was aware, I told him, that even catching the ferry five minutes before nine you could be zapped. Thank you for your help, Mr Taylor, once the transaction was complete, said Mr Double, and left with his straw hat and his poodle.

Why burn books when you can burn libraries? Burning Al-Kalima library in Gaza is not an isolated event. Since October 7 at least 14 other libraries have been either completely destroyed or badly damaged by the Israel Defense Forces, enough to confirm the burning of libraries as an objective.

The list given by Literary Hub includes,

Gaza University Library, on October 9

IBBY Children in Crisis Library (destroyed by air-strike once before in 2014)

Diana Tamari Sabbagh Library (also used as a shelter for people), on November 25

Al-Israa University Library

the National Museum (looted and then demolished), on January 18

the Central Archives of Gaza

the Great Omari Mosque and library (housing one of the most significant collections of rare books in Palestine)

An earlier article lists librarians and archivists killed. Justine Profane, a guest (her name recalling Walter Benjamin’s “Theologico-Political Fragment”), comments:

“Barbarous cancer is idiots like you. Change your avatar you specious racist as you seem to have a problem with Jewish lives and this is all you can muster. You accuse us of barbarism but yet here we are as you parade around sounding more and more like David Duke and sending money for the slaughter. The Leni Riefenstahl Arts Council applauds you. You also never answered my question earlier: How long have you hated women? Here’s another questions: You think a beta like you could handle a loud mouthed real woman, especially a Jewish woman like me?

“Sit down, you misogynistic troll.

“Your hatred is on your and your support for it is the ugly reflection in the mirror. Not mine and not on me.”

Edward Said Library (Beit Lahia) has also been destroyed. (source: Librarians and Archivists with Palestine) David Lloyd writes on the conference and workshop which took place in Ramallah, “Walter Benjamin in Palestine: On the Place and Non-Place of Radical Thought,” in December 2015:

“To emphasize the contradiction between intellectual study and a commitment to practice, or between the privilege of the foreign scholar and the burdens of the Palestinian living under occupation, seemed almost too easy, a form of hasty thinking, even. Those of us who had committed to engage in these workshops, unsure even whether we would be allowed by Israeli authorities to enter Palestine, despite the workshop’s focus on a major and self-consciously Jewish intellectual, had chosen to participate in study under a state of occupation. We came there from diverse and incommensurate histories and motivations. We were philosophers by training, artists, film-makers, historians and theorists, activists and translators, and sometimes several of those at once. … Above all, we had committed not to a mere intellectual exercise but to the furtherance of a principle, which is that the intellectual life of the occupied and oppressed is not a luxury, but a fundamental expression of the possibility of living in common.”

“The attempt to destroy Palestinian intellectual life is as unstinting as the uprooting and burning of the ancient olive trees of the Holy Land, some 800,000 of which have been destroyed in the course of Israel’s occupation.”

I am at the end of this post and I have not yet said what I came here to say (as usual). And as usual, I have let others speak. In the end it was easier to let them speak, like the crime novelist Oliver Bottini, who says of his character Louise Boní, “For years she’d been pleased she no longer belonged to a community of whatever sort…”

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the types of moving image, from surface detail – a quote, quoted for its eventual use in the series about cinematic time, that starts with “Enduring Dreams”

So, make your mind up. Real space view with potential scariness, or some screen; gentle feel-good, wistful comedy, razor-sharp witterage, outright slapstick hilarity, engrossing human drama, historical epic, educational documentary, ambient meanderance, pure art appreciation, porn, horror, sport or news?

[for what I am referring to in the title of this post, the most recent post on cinematic time includes links to the section which began the series, “Enduring Dreams.” Note also that the series is lacking an introduction, a compression tank to prepare the dear reader for the abruption and going-on-a-bit of the first section, the note on cinematic time. Best, Simon

[P.S. if you have any suggestions about the series or, about how it might begin, as to what the introduction might look like, I would be delighted to hear from you.]

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me too, a visionary activism restoring the political imagination

— Deborah Eden Tull, Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown, 2022

see also here and here

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chain(links) & magic(realism): US prisons ban fantasy and scifi

the first link lays it out:

— Moira Marquis, “Censoring Imagination: Why Prisons Ban Fantasy and Science Fiction,” LITHUB, December 7, 2023

— Francesco Queirolo, Disinganno, 1753

disillusion.] The Neapolitian Raimondo’s dedication is truly beautiful: the life of his father is used as an immortal example of…

And looking for the text which brought me to Disinganno, not finding it, but going by way of Emmanuel Carrère, a writer who takes a bead on being free of illusion led me to another who does too:

The text however, tying up these loose ends, I really wanted to link to is “On the Radical Escapism of Magic Realism” by Eden Kupermintz. On the little bit of magic required for immunity from communal reality, and le sens commun,

“This is not to say that magical realism cannot deal with ‘grand’ events like the fall of regimes or life and death. But it is usually that those events transpire from the small, the every day, and the mundane, where that mundane is ‘fed’ a small degree of magic.”

— from the magical realism essay, here at (Seneca: Animum debes mutare, non caelum [you must change your spirit (or self or mind), not the sky {non caelum}]) notthesky.com. Note the title in the link, which would make “On the Radical Escapism of Magic Realism” the subtitle. It is…

— more from Eden whose take on war in Gaza (death toll surpassing 17,700 11.12.2023) is that of…

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L E C T U R E___A B O U T___Ø

All I know about method,’ Cage writes at the end of ‘Lecture on Nothing,’ ‘is that when I am not working I sometimes think I know something, but when I am working, it is quite clear that I know nothing.’ Others might call that enlightenment.

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pico Iyer from the half known life: excerpts | wrong dream

Find a heaven within, Rumi had written–and it came back to me now as Ali, the driver and I sat on a platform in the sun, munching on chicken with barberries–and you enter a garden in which

It had long been too easy to say that Jerusalem is our world in miniature: the family home in which everyone is squabbling with his siblings over a late father’s will.

Yet Jerusalem spoke for a peculiarly twenty-first-century challenge as well, as the dissolution of borders meant that more and more conflicts were internal. In Kashmir, in Belfast, in Tibet, I’d witnessed one belief system against another; in Jerusalem, the fighting was not just between traditions, but within them. Orthodox Jews were spitting at their secular brothers, while those brothers were pinning posters of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus on synagogue doors to affront their sensitive coreligionists. Sunni Muslims lived harmoniously together within the country’s borders, but they were ringed on every side by Shia, who were pledged to committing Israel to oblivion. Far right often made common cause with far left here–ultra-Orthodox Jew aligning with Palestine Liberation Organization–on the grounds that my enemy’s enemy must be my friend.

The Pope himself had, in my lifetime, been denied permission to pray in the Greek chapel of what is often regarded as the holiest site in Christendom, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And doubters could always point out that the emperor who had ordered that church’s construction, Constantine, had murdered his own wife and son. An English traveler in the nineteenth century who’d gone to observe “Holy Fire”–the apparently miraculous appearance of a light in a crevice in the church on the Saturday of Easter Week, announcing the rebirth of the world–had found himself stepping over “a great heap of bodies” after a stampede in which “soldiers with their bayonets killed a number of fainting wretches, the walls splattered with the blood and brains of men who had been felled like oxen.”

Jerusalem was a parable that had turned into a cautionary tale, a warning about what we do when we’re convinced we know it all. A Jonathan loses his temper and every Jew is condemned to perdition; a Salman misspeaks and every Muslim is assaulted. Even those who had worked to turn the place into a long-planned New Jerusalem could not wish away the bloodstains all around. It was Theodor Herzl, the spiritual founder of the Jewish state, who had written, as to the holy city, “The musty deposits of 2,000 years of inhumanity, intolerance and foulness lie in your reeking alleys.” It was the first president of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, who had observed of Jerusalem, “Anything done to desecrate and defile the sacred has been done. It’s impossible to imagine so much falsehood and blasphemy.”

Ladakh

… to find ourselves in a rich and barely lit Tibetan Buddhist compound. Its chapels were thick with the smell of centuries of melted yak butter; its white terraces …

Ladders led up to rooftops that dropped off into an almost allegorical landscape of sand and space and blue emptiness. Every door through which we passed led to thangkas swarming with skulls, furious depictions of the contest within each one of us of light and dark. Mandalas, often sacred diagrams representing a paradise of Buddhas, lined up in rows or arrayed in receding squares, presented maps for every visitor to awaken a Buddha inside.

Dalai Lama

I remembered how the Dalai Lama, with his emphasis on facts and empiricism, often suggested that the seclusion of Himalayan cultures had perhaps allowed them to develop skills in meditation that had resulted in spiritual technologies not so refined yet in the West.

Whenever someone stood up–this happened after almost every large public lecture–and asked him what to do after you’ve been disappointed in some dream (to bring peace to the Middle East, to reverse climate change, to protect some seeming idyll), the Dalai Lama looked over at the questioner with great warmth and said, “Wrong dream!”

We humans, William James would write …, are akin to dogs in a library: we’re surrounded by extraordinary wisdom and knowledge, but entirely in a form we cannot decipher.

Along the walls were painted orange faces, laughing monkey gods, sacred looming phalluses. Shops on every side were selling sandalwood paste, and clarified butter for dead bodies, tiny clay urns for ashes.

The city of death had once been known as “Kashi,” or “City of Light.” The English writer Richard Lannoy, who had all but lost his soul to Varanasi, had called it a “city of darkness and dream.”

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… take the only tree that’s left/ stuff it up the hole in your culture … or, my robot left home to solve the world’s problems

… in January 2020 Greta Thunberg went as far as to specify just eight years [to avert a global castrophe].

Just a few months later, the president of the UN’s General Assembly gave us 11 years to avert a complete social collapse whereupon the planet will be simultaneously burning (unquenchable summer-long fires) and inundated with water (via a rapid sea-level rise). But, nihil novi sub sole: in 1989, another high UN official said that “governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control,” which means that by now we must be quite beyond the beyond …

Such predictably repetitive prophecies (however well-meant and however passionately presented) do not offer any practical advice about the deployment of the best possible technical solutions, about the most effective ways of legally binding global cooperation, or about tackling the difficult challenge of convincing populations of the need for significant expenditures [the] benefits [of which] will not be seen for decades to come. …

Why should we fear anything–be it environmental, social, or economic threats–when by 2045, or perhaps even by 2030, our understanding (or rather the intelligence unleashed by the machines we will have created) will know no bounds and hence any problem will become immeasurably less than trivial? Compared to this promise, any other recent specific and intemperate claim–from salvation through nanotechnology to fashioning new synthetic forms of life–appears trite. What will happen? An imminent near-infernal perdition, or speed-of-light godlike impotence?

Based on the revealed delusions of past prophecies, neither. We do not have a civilization envisioned in the early 1970–one of worsening planetary hunger or one energized by cost-free nuclear fission–and a generation from now we will not be either at the end of our evolutionary path or have a civilization transformed by Singularity.

–Vaclav Smil, How the World Really Works: A Scientist’s Guide to Our Past, Present and Future, 2022, pp. 212-213

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