‘Comparative Anthropology and Evans-Pritchard’s Nuer Photography’ Critique of Anthropology-1990-Hutnyk-81-102
‘Clifford’s Ethnographica’ Critique of Anthropology-1998-Hutnyk-339-78
‘Comparative Anthropology and Evans-Pritchard’s Nuer Photography’ Critique of Anthropology-1990-Hutnyk-81-102
‘Clifford’s Ethnographica’ Critique of Anthropology-1998-Hutnyk-339-78
Really pleased that The Rumour of Calcutta is available again, and now with those soft buttery covers that I’d wanted when it was first published way back in 1996.
The AMM has been tagged as ‘anti-academic’, a stigma we wear with pride. However, that doesn’t mean we ignore how academic fads and fashions influence the world. So we applaud the advent of the Manchester Left Writers who – in their first ‘broadside’ – attack “symptoms of bad writing operating across contemporary ‘left’ academic discourse … because we feel that it needs to be rescued from itself”. This is an entirely necessary project. What we like about the MLW is that, though they are concerned with the degeneration of language and concepts in the postmodern humanities, their world is not defined by striking poses within that milieu. They are not aspirant alt.superstars vying for attention in the vile metropolitan limelight, but conscientious “autodidacts, libertarians and nonconformists“ as Liverpool AMMer Luke Staunton put it in a recent post (Derek Bailey: “free improvisation is better in the provinces”) . One of the MLW’s number, Robert Galeta, is actually from Bradford, but bothers to cross the Pennines to attend MLW meetings (metropolitan internationalism is a cinch; for a Yorkshireman to penetrate Lancashire takes REAL GUTS). Galeta is sufficiently unfazed by postmodern crapola to notice that Esther Leslie’s Derelicts “generously brings the Academy out through its doors” (New Cross Review of Books). That’s exactly why we published it: great reading material for precisely anyone. All hail MLW! May you flourish and prosper. THIS is how to rebuild the Left.
Manchester Left Writers on the State of Scripts
We want to provide a picture of what is wrong with ‘radical’ or ‘left wing’ academic writing, because we feel that it needs to be rescued from itself. What we have identified collectively are elements of ‘scripts’ that we fall back on when we are not utilising the full potential of our resources in the here and now. Scripts are all resources from the past. Scripts are always half bad style and bad meaning, ruts of lazy thinking which have congealed into dead literary-academic modes.
‘The left’ needs to reoccupy the present and future, actually, physically, and politically, but to do this we need to recalibrate writing so that it is symbolically fit for the scale of the task. This is the first utopian step. ‘Utopia’ is the unwritten no-place we have to move towards, but to do that we have to identify as many of the elements of the bad scripts as possible, the lazy, default modes of writing.
Otherwise, how can we write this no-place, how will we inscribe it with all the changes we desperately need? Scripts only allow us to produce something because the ego needs gratification. Scripts are not about exploring the representation and politics of life in 2014, in a new, risky or tentative way, because what is being produced has not yet been tried, and so is a little frightening. Scripts are about making ego-capital.
We wondered if we might get these reflections on scripts published in a ‘radical’ journal or philosophy magazine, but decided that most of them are probably far too enslaved by the lazy mental habits being described below. We are cynical about work being produced by a washed-up, London-centric, mediocre middle-class ‘autonomist’ scene. To get us started, here are some elements of bad academic scripts that we have identified, strung together as a loose narrative:
1. The Sanctimonious Style: a classic discourse of ‘traditional intellectuals’. An academic star system breeds noblesse oblige: ‘Here I am, fulfilling my “progressive” duties’, but in a self-indulgent windbag fashion, bound up with position and status. In fact, the tone of this script is produced by status, and a life essentially spent on a reservation. Ironically, this script is often replicated by admirers without that power. We can perhaps add to this the ‘Left Worthy’, where writers start to designate ‘the good socialist’. When this happens, be sure that all thinking has stopped. Some elements of this script reveal its emptiness, including…
2. The Tenuous Theoretical Inversion: ‘Aha! But is that the case? If we turn Habermas’s notion inside-out we get…’ not very much, usually. Inverting the ‘notions’ of others usually means that you have few of your own left.
3. The Abstract Expression: This has a long pre-history in leaden macro-Marxism, where everything is covered in ash, as thick curtains of theoretical fog obscure everything. We can include in this the excesses of Frankfurt School ‘totalizing’, and macro ‘up in the clouds’ views of vast swathes of countries and cultures. This leaves us with…
4. Opacity: The residual afterglow of texts that are meant to be complex, compressed, portentous, poetic or ‘deep’, but are actually just opaque. Some of us think that Calvino’s Invisible Cities falls into this category for much of the time, and is so celebrated that people shy away from describing it as such. We will add to this…
5. The Spurious Psychogeography: Accounts of vague wandering, accompanied by photographs of fetishised, aesthetic urban ruins, pierced by striking solipsistic outbursts, emptied of all politics.
6. The Foucauldian Cauldron and Deleuzian Eel Barrel: Power is everywhere and therefore nowhere, it is ‘between’. Everyone is oppressor and oppressed at the same time. This is correct in many ways, but nobody in this murky soup is ever prepared to identify ‘the enemy’, because nobody in it can actually see one. There is a related, but opposite risk here, in writing which posits all identities as ‘spectral’ on ‘our side’, yet ‘over there’ is a big slab of oppression called Capitalism, The Patriarchy, et cetera. These ‘slabs’ of oppression derive in part from Foucauldian and Althusserian anti-humanism. It was once said that Foucauldian theory is a giant ‘spider web without a spider’. If we’re just bearers of the structure, points of intersection, then the spectral spider becomes an abstract oppression, rather than something human beings do to each other (and some more than others). We need to identify the spider and pull its legs off. Then Deleuze arrived, and everything is unstitched, in a state of permanent exodus or ‘becoming’, nothing is one thing, everything is between states, or ‘problematic’ if it isn’t.
7. Kine-spew: Swallow a mix of pulped texts by Lacan and Deleuze. Find a film, cut it open, vomit in it. Type up the results and then publish it in a citation index journal. We can add to this…
8. The Pop Confection: Apply a random mix of theorists to an obscure corner of popular culture to simply describe it through the theory, in order to then have something to submit to a journal. I like this band or film or novel, and I like this theory, so even though there is no direct historical link between them, I’m going to mash them together and say that the cultural text conveniently reflects the ‘radical’ features of the theory. This is fandom writing itself into ‘academia’, the creation of product by re-describing other products. It is postmodern pick ‘n’ mix, which could only happen in better times. The recession claimed Woolworths.
9. Binaries, 010101: This is especially prevalent in subcultural circles of ‘third wave’ feminist and queer theory. The lived realities of oppression are seen through an abstraction that has taken binaries for reality. It would be bad enough if philosophical idealism was the only problem here: but it is not, the theory itself is also faulty. Distinctions are not necessarily ‘binary’. The dominant works in different, often contradictory ways. There are endless ‘radical’ propositions that exclaim ‘A-ha! this bit of the world undermines the binaries, which I’m assuming structure everything, so it must be radical!’ Suddenly, the world as described becomes a seething hotbed of queerness, and we can all relax and pat ourselves on the back. This goes some way to explaining the inane cultural populist radicalism of claiming that Lady Gaga is going to bring down Capitalism and The Patriarchy, or more to the point that she represents it apparently falling apart of its own accord.
10. The Trouble With Normal: The helpless confusion between a liberating left politics, which needs to posit desirable norms different to those we have, and countercultural transgression, which sees all norms as oppressive. ‘Radical’, ‘progressive’, ‘queer’, et cetera: there’s a total and convenient lack of specificity as to the political co-ordinates of the positions signified by the above countercultural confetti. Norm-bending becomes ‘radical’, and not just in what gets analysed by ‘left’ academics, but in their own writing. Every new book is about ‘radical’, shaken-up ways of doing theory. This starts to look a lot like the search for novelty in the capitalist marketplace.
11. The Affect Alibi: A trendy and vague contemporary script, which is yet another mirror of the personalisation of everything, and therefore the Americanisation of everything. It has become acceptable to form a worldview based only on your own immediate experience under the alibi of ‘affect’. This is a reactionary rebound from the theoretical weakness of ashen anti-humanism, heading straight back into romanticism, with its ‘immediacy’. We must add solipsistic forms of ‘experimental’ auto-ethnography to this. The deepest problem here is the utter confusion of ‘standpoint epistemology’, or so-called ‘strong objectivity’.
12. Undiplomatic Immunity: Smearing someone as transphobic, misogynist, or racist because their intellectual framework isn’t the same as yours doesn’t mean that you don’t have to engage with them, yet it’s a convenient way to shut down debate. David Harvey is often the victim of this kind of thing in the written ‘scripts’ we discuss, but it goes on at an everyday level too. It is the lurking, residual blunt instrument of 1980s identity politics, something supposedly abandoned in these more theoretically supple times. It is nevertheless a handy auxiliary club to beat people up with when they disagree with your work. If writers place themselves outside criticism nobody wins, but the writer is probably the worst loser of all, drifting off, unchecked. With well-known writers, this process is facilitated as much by their fans as the writers themselves. And they are ‘fans’. As you can see, the creation of ‘scripts’ involves both the consumers and producers of texts.
13. Don’t talk to us about Post-: Postmodernity and Poststructuralism were blind alleys. Poststructuralism has been extremely successful at becoming an authoritative discourse, rendering all other discourses relative and shaky, simply by saying that all other discourses are relative and shaky. Why? Because no-one explicitly talks about it as ‘current’ anymore. Its assumptions are now hegemonic, naturalised, taken for granted.
These are just a few examples of the scripts we have been discussing, at meetings and across them. Scripts are partly dead styles, and partly what some anthropologists have called ‘epistemological hypochondria’, sick philosophies. We are not saying that we can escape the historical repertoires of left discourses completely, nor should we try to. But we need to very carefully select resources from the past. Particularly script styles, because they frame so much, so subtly. All scripts need to strongly justify their direct relevance to the present as a resource now. If this is unclear, we should probably try to create differently.
We felt ourselves being pulled into a script when we caught ourselves thinking, out of nowhere, that we needed a ten-point manifesto, we do not. However, we also admit that this piece was written in a ‘mode’, a kind of script, because of course it is a satire, and therefore it reduces and ridicules in order to make its points. The broadside pamphlet also has a long history. But we think that these scripts have been carefully selected, because the one thing ‘the left’ and ‘radical’ academic writing is clearly in need of right now is sending-up. It also uses a cartoon version of the aphoristic style in its epistemological rubbishing, a little like Adorno in Minima Moralia, a wonderful work that is also opaque in places.
So you see, script problems aren’t always total. We admit that we are playing devil’s advocate in order to diagnose. We all seemed to be in agreement that Zizek’s book on film and Lacan, Looking Awry, was good, but it’s often what happens to these resources when they become lazy paths to nowhere that concerns us, and it concerns us as a group of writers. These are representational questions. It isn’t always the fault of Marx, Foucault and Deleuze, it’s what does or doesn’t get done in their names, although sometimes, the theory is simply faulty.
There’s an urgent, current need to start creating a new kind of attack in political writing. These bad scripts function, like any cliché, to block new associations and thoughts. ‘Critical theory’ which uses Marxist or other premises without any sincere interest or belief in social change, has become orthodoxy in many universities. What use is the obscurantist prose, the demand to go back and read some dead 19th century saint, or do closer research, or ‘problematise’ some incoherent juxtaposition of popular culture and some mishandled linguistic or juridical concept? It all actually seems to prevent people from engaging in politics. It polices knowledge, the right and wrong way to think, it doesn’t necessarily produce knowledge, particularly when its peddlers are professors or senior lecturers.
We need to make completely explicit the fact that these scripts are hegemonic within ‘left’ academia. Unquestioned. They are doxa. Meaning is so much assumed that thought stops, despite the constant claims that everything is being ‘re-thought’, a claim that has also become hegemonic. These terms are being used with only a vague, general sense of what they might mean. Writers simply cast the same scripted spells on everything they encounter, producing the same results every time, yet expecting something different to happen.
There is much more work to do here, and the biggest script myth of all is perhaps that of the ‘left’ and ‘right’ itself. This co-ordinate version of politics is often so much fairy dust, the geographical-spatial metaphor designating the places where the people wear white and black hats, and it is created and maintained by language. At the same time, this does not mean that we are ‘post-Marxists’, what we need to do is redefine the use of our terms to better fit where we are historically, and always be specific.
These scripts are magical acts, and the field we are critiquing is occult: In the 17th century, as alchemy became chemistry, much time and energy was spent in the blind alley of trying to isolate ‘phlogiston’, a supposedly elemental substance that causes things to burn. That’s what we’re stuck in, a massive waste of energy, analysis hamstrung by bad theory, a search for something that might ignite, but never will. Often, bad scripts simply chop up existing knowledge into even thinner slices and then re-circulate it. Their failure is confirmed by their inability to imagine or suggest any political alternatives. Even revolution in its most vague outline has been largely dropped. Instead, wherever one turns, careers are made and incomes sustained by an infinite pursuit of criticising the existing state of things. The urgent desire for change is there, but much of its energy is pulled into this collapsing star. In this universe, any real fruits we bear will rot on the vine.
There’s another way for left thinkers, we are sure of it. Left or radical academic writing needs to be saved from itself and the institutions and measuring systems which frame it and will continue to transform it in a bad order. Crucially then, we must scrutinise not only bad scripts, but also the institutional systems that frame them, not to mention their geo-political and economic surrounds. If we do not start working out how to transform these conditions in tandem with transforming left scripts, our intervention is just more bad writing.
We are not suggesting that these are new observations. Everybody involved that we speak to affirm it as a commonplace assumption, if not in an official capacity. This diagnosis could be depressing. But that we all seem to roughly agree on this is extremely exciting, because that means something is happening. The new crisis of the academy may actually be productive, although that also means we’re going to be poor. But being ‘outside’, even though that also means working for them, for many of us, at least at the moment, is going to produce new critical positions. We may actually be lucky not to have access to a stylish lift into a dead ivory tower.
There’s a broader and deeper dissatisfaction brewing against institutions of politics, education, policing, et cetera. The university is going through a major transformation, towards an even more marketised, profit-driven system. Outside, the rest of the First World resembles this in mirror image, with even more precarious and divided peoples. All of this is obvious, and has a much longer history, which pre-dates the 2008 crash. E.P. Thompson on Warwick and Althusser may be a useful service station back down that road
The changes made to the academy, and the ways in which knowledge is now weighed and judged, were in so many ways completely unnecessary, but they have all been underwritten by the post-Lehman Brothers crash world. As a group we need to concentrate on the question of institutions next. But these shifts in the fabric of the university mean fundamental changes to the calibration of academic writing. We need to take this moment as an opportunity to clean the epistemological stables.
Original post here
I’ve two short bits of writing in this elegant little book from Jack Boulton, Stimulus Respond and Pavement Books. ‘The Politics of Cats’ and the bus part of the intro to ‘Pantomime Terror‘
get it here: http://zedbooks.co.uk/node/13018
Early morning inspired read from China:
How comfortable life would be for them if they could rid themselves of such obsessions and go to work, walk, eat and sleep at ease. They have only this one step to take. Yet fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers, friends, teachers and students, sworn enemies and even strangers, have all joined in this conspiracy, discouraging and preventing each other from taking this step.
This is of course from Lu Xun:
A Madman’s Diary
Written: April 1918
Source: Selected Stories of Lu Hsun, Published by Foreign Languages Press, Peking, 1960, 1972
Transcribed: Original transcription from coldbacon.com
HTML Markup: Mike B. for MIA, 2005
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Two brothers, whose names I need not mention here, were both good friends of mine in high school; but after a separation of many years we gradually lost touch. Some time ago I happened to hear that one of them was seriously ill, and since I was going back to my old home I broke my journey to call on them, I saw only one, however, who told me that the invalid was his younger brother.
“I appreciate your coming such a long way to see us,” he said, “but my brother recovered some time ago and has gone elsewhere to take up an official post.” Then, laughing, he produced two volumes of his brother’s diary, saying that from these the nature of his past illness could be seen, and that there was no harm in showing them to an old friend. I took the diary away, read it through, and found that he had suffered from a form of persecution complex. The writing was most confused and incoherent, and he had made many wild statements; moreover he had omitted to give any dates, so that only by the colour of the ink and the differences in the writing could one tell that it was not written at one time. Certain sections, however, were not altogether disconnected, and I have copied out a part to serve as a subject for medical research. I have not altered a single illogicality in the diary and have changed only the names, even though the people referred to are all country folk, unknown to the world and of no consequence. As for the title, it was chosen by the diarist himself after his recovery, and I did not change it.
Tonight the moon is very bright.
I have not seen it for over thirty years, so today when I saw it I felt in unusually high spirits. I begin to realize that during the past thirty-odd years I have been in the dark; but now I must be extremely careful. Otherwise why should that dog at the Chao house have looked at me twice?
I have reason for my fear.
Tonight there is no moon at all, I know that this bodes ill. This morning when I went out cautiously, Mr. Chao had a strange look in his eyes, as if he were afraid of me, as if he wanted to murder me. There were seven or eight others, who discussed me in a whisper. And they were afraid of my seeing them. All the people I passed were like that. The fiercest among them grinned at me; whereupon I shivered from head to foot, knowing that their preparations were complete.
I was not afraid, however, but continued on my way. A group of children in front were also discussing me, and the look in their eyes was just like that in Mr. Chao’s while their faces too were ghastly pale. I wondered what grudge these children could have against me to make them behave like this. I could not help calling out: “Tell me!” But then they ran away.
I wonder what grudge Mr. Chao can have against me, what grudge the people on the road can have against me. I can think of nothing except that twenty years ago I trod on Mr. Ku Chiu’s1 account sheets for many years past, and Mr. Ku was very displeased. Although Mr. Chao does not know him, he must have heard talk of this and decided to avenge him, so he is conspiring against me with the people on the road, But then what of the children? At that time they were not yet born, so why should they eye me so strangely today, as if they were afraid of me, as if they wanted to murder me? This really frightens me, it is so bewildering and upsetting.
I know. They must have learned this from their parents!
I can’t sleep at night. Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it.
Those people, some of whom have been pilloried by the magistrate, slapped in the face by the local gentry, had their wives taken away by bailiffs, or their parents driven to suicide by creditors, never looked as frightened and as fierce then as they did yesterday.
The most extraordinary thing was that woman on the street yesterday who spanked her son and said, “Little devil! I’d like to bite several mouthfuls out of you to work off my feelings!” Yet all the time she looked at me. I gave a start, unable to control myself; then all those green-faced, long-toothed people began to laugh derisively. Old Chen hurried forward and dragged me home.
He dragged me home. The folk at home all pretended not to know me; they had the same look in their eyes as all the others. When I went into the study, they locked the door outside as if cooping up a chicken or a duck. This incident left me even more bewildered.
A few days ago a tenant of ours from Wolf Cub Village came to report the failure of the crops, and told my elder brother that a notorious character in their village had been beaten to death; then some people had taken out his heart and liver, fried them in oil and eaten them, as a means of increasing their courage. When I interrupted, the tenant and my brother both stared at me. Only today have I realized that they had exactly the same look in their eyes as those people outside.
Just to think of it sets me shivering from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.
They eat human beings, so they may eat me.
I see that woman’s “bite several mouthfuls out of you,” the laughter of those green-faced, long-toothed people and the tenant’s story the other day are obviously secret signs. I realize all the poison in their speech, all the daggers in their laughter. Their teeth are white and glistening: they are all man-eaters.
It seems to me, although I am not a bad man, ever since I trod on Mr. Ku’s accounts it has been touch-and-go. They seem to have secrets which I cannot guess, and once they are angry they will call anyone a bad character. I remember when my elder brother taught me to write compositions, no matter how good a man was, if I produced arguments to the contrary he would mark that passage to show his approval; while if I excused evil-doers, he would say: “Good for you, that shows originality.” How can I possibly guess their secret thoughts—especially when they are ready to eat people?
Everything requires careful consideration if one is to understand it. In ancient times, as I recollect, people often ate human beings, but I am rather hazy about it. I tried to look this up, but my history has no chronology, and scrawled all over each page are the words: “Virtue and Morality.” Since I could not sleep anyway, I read intently half the night, until I began to see words between the lines, the whole book being filled with the two words—”Eat people.”
All these words written in the book, all the words spoken by our tenant, gaze at me strangely with an enigmatic smile.
I too am a man, and they want to eat me!
In the morning I sat quietly for some time. Old Chen brought lunch in: one bowl of vegetables, one bowl of steamed fish. The eyes of the fish were white and hard, and its mouth was open just like those people who want to eat human beings. After a few mouthfuls I could not tell whether the slippery morsels were fish or human flesh, so I brought it all up.
I said, “Old Chen, tell my brother that I feel quite suffocated, and want to have a stroll in the garden.” Old Chen said nothing but went out, and presently he came back and opened the gate.
I did not move, but watched to see how they would treat me, feeling certain that they would not let me go. Sure enough! My elder brother came slowly out, leading an old man. There was a murderous gleam in his eyes, and fearing that I would see it he lowered his head, stealing glances at me from the side of his spectacles.
“You seem to be very well today,” said my brother.
“Yes,” said I.
“I have invited Mr. Ho here today,” said my brother, “to examine you.”
“All right,” said I. Actually I knew quite well that this old man was the executioner in disguise! He simply used the pretext of feeling my pulse to see how fat I was; for by so doing he would receive a share of my flesh. Still I was not afraid. Although I do not eat men, my courage is greater than theirs. I held out my two fists, to see what he would do. The old man sat down, closed his eyes, fumbled for some time and remained still for some time; then he opened his shifty eyes and said, “Don’t let your imagination run away with you. Rest quietly for a few days, and you will be all right.”
Don’t let your imagination run away with you! Rest quietly for a few days! When I have grown fat, naturally they will have more to eat; but what good will it do me, or how can it be “all right”? All these people wanting to eat human flesh and at the same time stealthily trying to keep up appearances, not daring to act promptly, really made me nearly die of laughter. I could not help roaring with laughter, I was so amused. I knew that in this laughter were courage and integrity. Both the old man and my brother turned pale, awed by my courage and integrity.
But just because I am brave they are the more eager to eat me, in order to acquire some of my courage. The old man went out of the gate, but before he had gone far he said to my brother in a low voice, “To be eaten at once!” And my brother nodded. So you are in it too! This stupendous discovery, although it came as a shock, is yet no more than I had expected: the accomplice in eating me is my elder brother!
The eater of human flesh is my elder brother!
I am the younger brother of an eater of human flesh!
I myself will be eaten by others, but none the less I am the younger brother of an eater of human flesh!
These few days I have been thinking again: suppose that old man were not an executioner in disguise, but a real doctor; he would be none the less an eater of human flesh. In that book on herbs, written by his predecessor Li Shih-chen,2 it is clearly stated that men’s flesh can he boiled and eaten; so can he still say that he does not eat men?
As for my elder brother, I have also good reason to suspect him. When he was teaching me, he said with his own lips, “People exchange their sons to eat.” And once in discussing a bad man, he said that not only did he deserve to be killed, he should “have his flesh eaten and his hide slept on. . . .”3 I was still young then, and my heart beat faster for some time, he was not at all surprised by the story that our tenant from Wolf Cub Village told us the other day about eating a man’s heart and liver, but kept nodding his head. He is evidently just as cruel as before. Since it is possible to “exchange sons to eat,” then anything can be exchanged, anyone can be eaten. In the past I simply listened to his explanations, and let it go at that; now I know that when he explained it to me, not only was there human fat at the corner of his lips, but his whole heart was set on eating men.
Pitch dark. I don’t know whether it is day or night. The Chao family dog has started barking again.
The fierceness of a lion, the timidity of a rabbit, the craftiness of a fox. . . .
I know their way; they are not willing to kill anyone outright, nor do they dare, for fear of the consequences. Instead they have banded together and set traps everywhere, to force me to kill myself. The behaviour of the men and women in the street a few days ago, and my elder brother’s attitude these last few days, make it quite obvious. What they like best is for a man to take off his belt, and hang himself from a beam; for then they can enjoy their heart’s desire without being blamed for murder. Naturally that sets them roaring with delighted laughter. On the other hand, if a man is frightened or worried to death, although that makes him rather thin, they still nod in approval.
They only eat dead flesh! I remember reading somewhere of a hideous beast, with an ugly look in its eye, called “hyena” which often eats dead flesh. Even the largest bones it grinds into fragments and swallows: the mere thought of this is enough to terrify one. Hyenas are related to wolves, and wolves belong to the canine species. The other day the dog in the Chao house looked at me several times; obviously it is in the plot too and has become their accomplice. The old man’s eyes were cast down, but that did not deceive me!
The most deplorable is my elder brother. He is also a man, so why is he not afraid, why is he plotting with others to eat me? Is it that when one is used to it he no longer thinks it a crime? Or is it that he has hardened his heart to do something he knows is wrong?
In cursing man-eaters, I shall start with my brother, and in dissuading man-eaters, I shall start with him too.
Actually, such arguments should have convinced them long ago. . . .
Suddenly someone came in. He was only about twenty years old and I did not see his features very clearly. His face was wreathed in smiles, but when he nodded to me his smile did not seem genuine. I asked him “Is it right to eat human beings?”
Still smiling, he replied, “When there is no famine how can one eat human beings?”
I realized at once, he was one of them; but still I summoned up courage to repeat my question:
“Is it right?”
“What makes you ask such a thing? You really are . . fond of a joke. . . . It is very fine today.”
“It is fine, and the moon is very bright. But I want to ask you: Is it right?”
He looked disconcerted, and muttered: “No….”
“No? Then why do they still do it?”
“What are you talking about?”
“What am I talking about? They are eating men now in Wolf Cub Village, and you can see it written all over the books, in fresh red ink.”
His expression changed, and he grew ghastly pale. “It may be so,” he said, staring at me. “It has always been like that. . . .”
“Is it right because it has always been like that?”
“I refuse to discuss these things with you. Anyway, you shouldn’t talk about it. Whoever talks about it is in the wrong!”
I leaped up and opened my eyes wide, but the man had vanished. I was soaked with perspiration. He was much younger than my elder brother, but even so he was in it. He must have been taught by his parents. And I am afraid he has already taught his son: that is why even the children look at me so fiercely.
Wanting to eat men, at the same time afraid of being eaten themselves, they all look at each other with the deepest suspicion. . . .
How comfortable life would be for them if they could rid themselves of such obsessions and go to work, walk, eat and sleep at ease. They have only this one step to take. Yet fathers and sons, husbands and wives, brothers, friends, teachers and students, sworn enemies and even strangers, have all joined in this conspiracy, discouraging and preventing each other from taking this step.
Early this morning I went to look for my elder brother. He was standing outside the hall door looking at the sky, when I walked up behind him, stood between him and the door, and with exceptional poise and politeness said to him:
“Brother, I have something to say to you.”
“Well, what is it?” he asked, quickly turning towards me and nodding.
“It is very little, but I find it difficult to say. Brother, probably all primitive people ate a little human flesh to begin with. Later, because their outlook changed, some of them stopped, and because they tried to be good they changed into men, changed into real men. But some are still eating—just like reptiles. Some have changed into fish, birds, monkeys and finally men; but some do not try to be good and remain reptiles still. When those who eat men compare themselves with those who do not, how ashamed they must be. Probably much more ashamed than the reptiles are before monkeys.
“In ancient times Yi Ya boiled his son for Chieh and Chou to eat; that is the old story.4 But actually since the creation of heaven and earth by Pan Ku men have been eating each other, from the time of Yi Ya’s son to the time of Hsu Hsi-lin,5 and from the time of Hsu Hsi-lin down to the man caught in Wolf Cub Village. Last year they executed a criminal in the city, and a consumptive soaked a piece of bread in his blood and sucked it.
“They want to eat me, and of course you can do nothing about it single-handed; but why should you join them? As man-eaters they are capable of anything. If they eat me, they can eat you as well; members of the same group can still eat each other. But if you will just change your ways immediately, then everyone will have peace. Although this has been going on since time immemorial, today we could make a special effort to be good, and say this is not to be done! I’m sure you can say so, brother. The other day when the tenant wanted the rent reduced, you said it couldn’t be done.”
At first he only smiled cynically, then a murderous gleam came into his eyes, and when I spoke of their secret his face turned pale. Outside the gate stood a group of people, including Mr. Chao and his dog, all craning their necks to peer in. I could not see all their faces, for they seemed to be masked in cloths; some of them looked pale and ghastly still, concealing their laughter. I knew they were one band, all eaters of human flesh. But I also knew that they did not all think alike by any means. Some of them thought that since it had always been so, men should be eaten. Some of them knew that they should not eat men, but still wanted to; and they were afraid people might discover their secret; thus when they heard me they became angry, but they still smiled their. cynical, tight-lipped smile.
Suddenly my brother looked furious, and shouted in a loud voice:
“Get out of here, all of you! What is the point of looking at a madman?”
Then I realized part of their cunning. They would never be willing to change their stand, and their plans were all laid; they had stigmatized me as a madman. In future when I was eaten, not only would there be no trouble, but people would probably be grateful to them. When our tenant spoke of the villagers eating a bad character, it was exactly the same device. This is their old trick.
Old Chen came in too, in a great temper, but they could not stop my mouth, I had to speak to those people:
“You should change, change from the bottom of your hearts!” I said. “You most know that in future there will be no place for man-eaters in the world.
“If you don’t change, you may all be eaten by each other. Although so many are born, they will be wiped out by the real men, just like wolves killed by hunters. Just like reptiles!”
Old Chen drove everybody away. My brother had disappeared. Old Chen advised me to go back to my room. The room was pitch dark. The beams and rafters shook above my head. After shaking for some time they grew larger. They piled on top of me.
The weight was so great, I could not move. They meant that I should die. I knew that the weight was false, so I struggled out, covered in perspiration. But I had to say:
“You should change at once, change from the bottom of your hearts! You must know that in future there will be no place for man-eaters in the world . . . .”
The sun does not shine, the door is not opened, every day two meals.
I took up my chopsticks, then thought of my elder brother; I know now how my little sister died: it was all through him. My sister was only five at the time. I can still remember how lovable and pathetic she looked. Mother cried and cried, but he begged her not to cry, probably because he had eaten her himself, and so her crying made him feel ashamed. If he had any sense of shame. . . .
My sister was eaten by my brother, but I don’t know whether mother realized it or not.
I think mother must have known, but when she cried she did not say so outright, probably because she thought it proper too. I remember when I was four or five years old, sitting in the cool of the hall, my brother told me that if a man’s parents were ill, he should cut off a piece of his flesh and boil it for them if he wanted to be considered a good son; and mother did not contradict him. If one piece could be eaten, obviously so could the whole. And yet just to think of the mourning then still makes my heart bleed; that is the extraordinary thing about it!
I can’t bear to think of it.
I have only just realized that I have been living all these years in a place where for four thousand years they have been eating human flesh. My brother had just taken over the charge of the house when our sister died, and he may well have used her flesh in our rice and dishes, making us eat it unwittingly.
It is possible that I ate several pieces of my sister’s flesh unwittingly, and now it is my turn, . . .
How can a man like myself, after four thousand years of man-caring history—even though I knew nothing about it at first—ever hope to face real men?
Perhaps there are still children who have not eaten men? Save the children. . . .
1. Ku Chiu means “Ancient Times.” Lu Hsun had in mind the long history of feudal oppression in China.
2. A famous pharmacologist (1518-1593), author of Ben-cao-gang-mu, the Materia Medica.
3. These are quotations from the old classic Zuo Zhuan.
4. According to ancient records, Yi Ya cooked his son and presented him to Duke Huan of Chi who reigned from 685 to 643 B.C. Chieh and Chou were tyrants of an earlier age. The madman has made a mistake here.
5. A revolutionary at the end of the Ching dynasty (1644-1911), Hsu Hsi-lin was executed in 1907 for assassinating a Ching official. His heart and liver were eaten.
Lu Xun Internet Archive
Back to Reference Archive
More sentences that did not make the cut (from chapter two of Panto Terror):
The insurrection in the suburbs is not directed against the theoretical posturing of the self-regarding masters, but where the street demands something more than theory, bad theory is tolerated only so long as it does not succeed. Unfulfilled as yet, there is a threatening promise here. A lumpen justice storms the stage. Critics superfluous, Adorno applauds.
These might be reflections and critiques of the more or less prejudicial ways codes are filtered and sequenced in the psychological structures of the authoritarian personality today There is always the possibility of extending the study to account for historical differences in the way authoritarianism takes differing forms in different periods. Exactly that missing theory of mediation for which Adorno berated Benjamin’s Arcades assemblage might also displace the tendency to think in terms of vision not sound, and to accept the old methods forever, the old masters, and new – as if the once radical theorists retain critical intensity for all times.
There is a battle for attention and the production of images on all sides is just a part of the workings of an ‘attention economy’ or an ‘attention theory of value’ (Beller 2006:201). I want this value to illustrate and be illustrated in the workings of this writing, the ways writing works…
This is an old story – music and politics back in the day: in the 1970s a band called ‘The Lumpen’ were a cultural offshoot from the Black Panthers: “comrades who liked to harmonize while working Distribution night in San Francisco to ‘help the work go easier’ (another tradition). We had all sung in groups in the past, Calhoun having performed professionally in Las Vegas, and it just came naturally. I don’t remember just how it came about, but Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture, suggested that this could be formed into a musical cadre. Elaine Brown had already recorded an album of revolutionary songs (‘Seize the Time’) in a folk singing style, and this quartet singing in an R&B or ‘Soul’ form could be a useful political tool. Some folks don’t read, but everybody listens to music”
More recent work on Chinese urban street culture continues in a similar manner. Michael Dutton’s great book Streetlife China applauds the organised creativity of lumpen criminal subcultures struggling to survive in the informal and black economy as China advances its new capitalist regime, with deformed Deng-ist characteristics (Dutton 1999).
Back to Paris in 1848 then. In his book on that city, economist geographer David Harvey spends very little time with Marx on the streets, and rarely mentions the Eighteenth Brumaire, perhaps reluctant to draw anything but the most general macro conclusions. Conversely, but similar, his critique of readings of Benjamin cannot relate fragments of the Arcades project to the whole – echoes of Adorno but without the close comradely involvement or ‘Arcades orthodoxy’ (Adorno to Benjamin 10 November 1938, Benjamin/Adorno 1994/1999: 284). Nevertheless, Harvey shows that after the revolutionary disturbances of 1848 came Baron Haussmann and his wider streets project, which has to be understood as the policy response of the ruling class (Harvey 2003:3). Of course this was not simply straightforward – even if the roads, the new boulevards cutting through working class areas, were. In a somewhat hyperbolic mode, Harvey writes of 1848: ‘Before, there was an urban vision that at best could only tinker with the problems of a medieval urban infrastructure; then came Haussmann, who bludgeoned the city into modernity’ (Harvey 2003:3). This for Harvey: ‘Tradition has to be overthrown, violence is necessary, in order to grapple with the present and create the future’ (Harvey 2003:15).
Harvey points to a ‘greater degree of spatial segregation, much of it based on class distinctions’ in the wake of Haussman’s remodelling of the city (Harvey 2003:239).
The point is not to perfect a history of 1848 or 1871, but to explore ways in which the events of that time might help us think differently about our own. I am thinking then of the boulevard as ramparts, and the way this offers a perspective marked by class and militarism. What is it to look along the vista of the new Paris in the 1860s? Just as today the view of New York has been remodelled in significant ways, as Joel McKim argues in his studies of memorial and architectural competition over the Twin Towers site (McKim 2008:83). Indeed, what was it to look up at the planes as they hurtled into the twin towers, or, equally, as they fly far above, the planes that drop what Habermas calls ‘electronically controlled clusters of elegant and versatile missiles’ (in Borradori 2008:28). To get New Yorkers to stop and stare was significant, but it is also a privilege compared to those who do not have the time to do anything but run for cover.
The intellectuals, sociologists and commentators want a more inclusive France. The meaning of the former is secured by the latter – the secret dependence of democratic politics upon nationalist enjoyment takes varied forms, whether it be the novelty of the ‘third way’ politics, the love-thy-neighbour posturing of multicultural tolerance, or ‘radical’ reforms – drop the debt campaigns perhaps – even ‘Struggles for cultural recognition … [are] secretly supported … by compliance in deed, if not in words, with nationalistic rituals’ (Boucher 2004:160). The best these modes of ‘politics’ can claim is to be the human face of the obscene enjoyment generated by the capitalism-nationalism nexus. Žižek points to the need to break from these supplements to destroy the logic of their excessive unconscious attachments – discursive unity is secretly supported by venal enjoyment (Žižek 2004b:164) and he would have done with this kind of ‘rainbow coalition’ against populist fundamentalism in order rather to ‘aggravate’ class difference into class antagonism (Žižek 2004b:186).
In 1972 Eldrige Cleaver wrote:
“The real revolutionary element of our era is the Lumpen, understood in its broader sense. What is lacking is a Lumpen consciousness, consciousness of the basic condition of oppression being the Lumpen condition and not the proletarian condition. In order for the revolutionary movement to progress, the Lumpen must become conscious of themselves as the vast majority, and the false proletarian, working class consciousness must be negated.” (Cleaver 1972)
theme – trinket – introduction
repetition of theme – short version, long version, large and small
relation to whole
development – fate – of theme as it changes
repetitions – in different registers
rhythm, tempo, volume, intensity
reversal, dynamic, relation of components, inversion of same
further development of the whole, structure as anagram of specificity
differential overall structures and framing
being able to locate each element in the overall context
asymmetry, exceptions, incommensurables
Rustom Bharucha reports that the Progressive Writers Association has its origins, according to ‘its most distinguished founder- member Mulk Ray Anand’ in ‘the expatriate community of India students in London, who had charted their first manifesto as “progressive” writers in 1935 in a Chinese restaurant’ (Bharucha 1998:29)
Bharucha, Rustom 1998 In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activision in Inidia Delhi: Oxford UP
For the record… A drab day, in which I have been consigned to routine tasks, like updating my publications list. Gets a little sketchy towards the end because I cannot be listing all the small mags stuff (some of this can be downloaded link to the left, others I’d have to send you, still others need to be scanned by the oompa-loompas one day soon)…
Books (single authored)
1996 The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation. Zed Books, London. ISBN 18649408X
2000 Critique of Exotica: Music, Politics and the Culture Industry London: Pluto Press ISBN 0 7453 1597 6
2004 Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies London: Pluto Press, ISBN0-7453-2266-2
2005 Hybridity and Diaspora, (With Raminder Kaur and Virinder Kalra) London: Sage. ISBN 0-7619-7397-4
1996 Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music (co-edited with Sanjay Sharma and Ashwani Sharma). Zed Books, London. ISBN 1856494705
1999 Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemporary Cultural Politics London, (co-edited with Raminder Kaur) Zed books. ISBN 1856495620
2006 Celebrating Transgression: Method and Politics in Anthropology (with Ursula Rao) Oxford: Berghahn. ISBN 1-84545-025-6
2012 Beyond Borders London: Pavement Books ISBN: 978-0-9571470-0-3
1987 Melbourne Journal of Politics (with Nick Lane), Department of Political Science, University of Melbourne
1987-1988 Criticism, Heresy and Interpretation – Journal of the Department of Anthropology, University of Melbourne – 3 volumes as editor in chief.
1991 The Consuming Subjects of Education. La Trobe University Education Research Journal
1998 special issue – Postcolonial Studies Vol 1 No 3 – ‘Diasporic Music and politics’. ISSN No. 1368-8790
2000 special issue – Theory, Culture and Society vol 17 (3) – ‘Music and Politics’ ISSN 0263-2763
2005 special section PubliCity in the journal Left Curve USA – a samizdat style insert in this journal containing 30 articles from 19 different countries.
2006 ‘Problematising Global Knowledge, special issue (2 volumes) Theory Culture and Society Vol 23 (2-3) ISSN 0263-2764
2007 the second special section PubliCity in the journal Left Curve USA – a samizdat style insert in this journal containing 12 articles from 9 different countries.
1991 ‘Strategy, Identity, Writing: An interview with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’, in Sarah Harasym (ed), The Post-Colonial Critic, (USA) Routledge, New York, pp 35-49. ISBN 0415901707
1996 ‘Introduction’ (with Sanjay Sharma and Ashwani Sharma) in Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (eds) Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music Zed Books, London, pp 1-14. ISBN 1856494705
1996 ‘Re-Sounding (Anti)Racism, or Concordant Politics? Revolutionary Antecedents’ (with Virinder Kalra and Sanjay Sharma) in Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (eds) Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music Zed Books, London. pp 127-155. ISBN 1856494705
1996 ‘Repetitive Beatings or Criminal Justice?’ in Sanjay Sharma, John Hutnyk and Ashwani Sharma (eds) Dis-orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music Zed Books, London, pp 156-189. ISBN 1856494705
1997 ‘Adorno at Womad: South Asian Crossovers and the Limits of Hybridity-talk’ forthcoming in Werbner, P and Modood, T. (eds.) Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-Cultural Identities and the Politics of Anti-Racism, London, Zed books, pp 106-136. ISBN 1856494241.
1999 ‘Argonauts of Western Pessimism: Clifford’s Malinowski’ in Steve Clarke (ed) Travel Writing and Empire: Postcolonial Theory in Transit, London: Zed books pp 45-62. ISBN 1856496287
1999 ‘Introduction’ (with Raminder Kaur) in Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk (eds) Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemorary Cultural Politics London, Zed books pp 1-13. ISBN 1856495620
1999 ‘Magical Mystical Tourism’ in Raminder Kaur and John Hutnyk (eds) Travel Worlds: Journeys in Contemorary Cultural Politics London, Zed books pp 94-119. ISBN 1856495620
1999 ‘Semifeudal Cybercolonialism: Technocratic Dreamtime in Malaysia’ in Bosma, J et al (eds.) Readme! Filtered by Nettime: Ascii Culture and the Revenge of Knowledge New York: Autonomedia,. pp 315-321
2000 ‘Capital Calcutta: Coins, Maps, Monuments, Souvenirs and Tourism’ in Bell, D and Haddour, A (eds) City Visions Longman ISBN: 0582327415
2003 ‘Musik für Euro-Maoisten: Über die richtige Behandlung der Widersprüche bei Pop-stars’ in Kunstwerk und Kritik, Jour Fixe Initiative Berling (hg), Munster: Unrast-Verlag pp 111-143
2006 ‘The Dialectics of Here and There: British Asian Communism’ in Ali, Kalra and Sayyid (Eds) A Postcolonial People, Hurst, ISBN: 1850657963
2006 ‘Deathening Silence: The Terms of (Non) Political Commentary’ Basu, D and Lamelle S Eds The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip-hop and the Globalisation of Black Popular Culture London: Pluto Press ISBN 978-0745319407
2008 ‘Martin Heidegger Goes to the Movies’ in David Held and Henrietta Moore eds., Culturl Politics in a Global Age: Uncertainty, Solidarity and Innovation, Oxford: One World 112-120 ISBN: 978-1-85168-550-9
2008 ‘Tourism and the Selling of Cultures’ in Robin Anderson and Jonathan Gray eds., Battleground: the Media (2 Vold) vol 2 Westport: Greenwood Press: 513-519 ISBN 978-0-313-34169-4
2009 ‘Translating Appearance: On the First Sentence of Das Kapital’ in Tom Bunyard ed., The Devils Party London CCS pp50-54 ISBN 978-1-4452-1822-9
2010 ‘Hybridity’ in Kim Knott and Sean McLaughlin Diasporas: Concepts, Intersections, Identities London Zed books pp59-62 ISBN 978-1-84277-948-4
2010 (with Laura King) ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Gaius Baltar: Colonialism Reimagined in Battlestar Gallactica’ in Arlo Kemp fed., Breaching the Colonial Contract Springer pp237-250 ISBN978-90-481-3888-3
2011 ‘Pantomime paranoia in London or, ‘lookout he’s behind you!’’ in Peddie (ed) Popular Music and Human Rights, Volume I: British and American Music, London: Ashgate
2011 ‘Undercover Transports’ in Menrath and Schwinghammer eds What Does a Chameleon Look Like? Topographies of Immersion, Cologne: Herbert Von Halem Verlag.
2011 ‘NDTV 24X7, the Hanging Channel: News Media or Horror Show’ in Batabyal, Chowdhry, Gaur et al Indian Mass Media and the Politics of Change, London: Routledge.
2011 ‘Critica de tudo’ in Tatiana Amendola Sanches ed., Estudos Culturais uma abordagem pratica Sao Paulo: Editora Senac pp99-209 ISBN 978-85-396-0141-7
1987 ’The Authority of Style’, Social Analysis, 21:59-79. ISBN 0133977X
1988 ‘Castaway Anthropology: Malinowski’s Tropical Writings’ Antithesis, 2(1):43-56. ISSN 10303839.
1989 ‘Customs Review of Public Culture; The U.S. and Africa in Melbourne’ Public Culture 2(1)Fall: 130-136. ISSN 08992363
1989 ‘Clifford Geertz as a Cultural System’ Social Analysis 25:91-119. ISBN 0133977X
1990 ‘Comparative Anthropology and Evans-Pritchard’s African Photography’ Critique of Anthropology 10(1):81-102
1992 ‘Cinematic Calcutta: Camera Angles on the City’ Agenda Special issue, Dec:68-72 ISSN 10331115
1992 ‘Articulation and Marginalia: Making Spaces for Other Voices in Our Institutions’ New Literatures Review Winter-South:104-116. ISSN 03147495
1993 ‘Calcutta Cipher: travellers and the city’ Social Analysis 32:53-65. ISBN 0133977X
1993 ‘Noir Sociology: Can Academics Map Los Angeles’ Left Curve 17:26-33. ISSN 01601857
1994 ‘Thinking With Berger: Local/Global and Dialogue in Modernity As Exile by Nikos Papastergiadis’, New Literatures Review, 27: 91-103. ISSN 03147495
1996 ‘Media, Research, Politics, Culture’ Critique of Anthropology 16(4):417-428. ISSN 0308275X
1997 (with Virinder Kalra and Sanjay Sharma) ‘Fun^Da^Mental Politics: the New Asian Dance Music and its Revolutionary Antecedents’ Left Curve 21:54-64. ISSN 01601857
1997 ‘email@example.com’ Space and Culture 2:95-122. ISSN 12063312
1998 (with Virinder Kalra) ‘Music and Politics – introduction to the special section’ Postcolonial Studies, 1(3):335-37. ISSN No. 1368-8790
1998 (with Virinder Kalra) ‘Brimful of Agitation, Appropriation and Authenticity: Madonna’s “Asian Kool”‘ in Postcolonial Studies, 1(3):339-355. ISSN 1368-8790
1998 ‘Clifford’s Ethnographica’ Critique of Anthropology 18(4):339-378. ISSN 0308-275X
1998 ‘Adorno at Womad: South Asian Crossovers and the Limits of Hybridity-talk’ Postcolonial Studies, 1(3):401-426. ISSN 1368-8790
1999 ‘Resettling Bakun: Consultancy, Anthropologists and Development’ Left Curve 23:82-90. ISSN 0160-1857
2000 ‘Hybridity Saves: Authenticity and/or the Critique of Appropriation’ in Amer-Asia 25(3):39-58 ISSN 0044-7471
2000 (with Sanjay Sharma) ‘Music and Politics: Introduction to the Special Section’ in Theory Culture and Society 17(3):57-65 ISSN 0263-2763
2000 ‘Music for Euro-Maoists: On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among Popstars’ in Theory Culture and Society 17(3):141-163 ISSN 0263-2763
2002 ‘Jungle Studies – the State of Anthropology’ in Futures 34(1):15-31 ISSN 0016-3287/01
2002 Tales from the Raj’ in Rethinking Marxism, vol. 13(3-4):119-136, ISSN 0893-5696.
2003 ‘Bataille’s Wars: Surrealism, Marxism, Fascism’ Critique of Anthropology, 23(3):264-288 ISSN 0308-275X
2004 ‘The Chapati Story: How Hybridity as Theory displaced Maoism as Politics in Subaltern Studies’ Contemporary South Asia 12(4)481-491 ISSN 0958-4935
2004 ‘Photogenic Poverty: Souvenirs and Infantilism’ Journal of Visual Culture, 3(1):77-94 ISSN 1470-4129
2005 ‘The Dialectics of European Hip-Hop: Fun^da^mental and the Deathening Silence’ South Asian Popular Culture 3(1):17-32 ISSN 1474-6689
2005 ‘Hybridity’ Ethnic and Racial Studies 28(1):79-102, ISSN 0141-9870
2005 ‘Panoramas of Asia and the Electronic Hearth: Michael Palin’s Connection’ Journal of the Moving Image 4(Nov):32-62
2006 ‘The Dialectic of Here and There: Anthropology ‘At Home’ and British Asian Communism’ Social Identities 11(4):345-361 ISSN 1350-4630
2006 ‘Culture’ main entry for culture section in Theory Culture and Society Vol. 23(2–3): 351–375 23 ISSN 0263-2764
2007. Pantomime Terror Diasporic Music in a Time of War. Journal of Creative Communications, 2(1-2), pp. 123-141.
2011 ‘Critique of Everything’ in Soumen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society 36(3)71-75
2012 ‘Beyond Television Studies’ Rountable essay in South Asian History and Culture 3(4):583-590
2012 ‘Sexy Sammie and Red Rosie’? From Burning Books to the War on Terror’, Space and Culture 15.2, pp164-176
2012 ‘Poetry After Guantanamo: M.I.A.’ Social Identities 18.5, pp. 555-572
2012 ‘Contexts for Distraction’ Journal For Cultural Research (Special issue on the August 2011 uprisings in London). DOI:10.1080/14797585.2012.756248
2013 ‘Proletarianization’ in New Formations (special issue on Bernard Stiegler)
other publications, review essays and conference proceedings, magazines etc.
1986 (journal article) ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain: Politics and Knowledge in Ethnography’, Melbourne Journal of Politics, 18:126-141.
1988 (journal article) ‘Lévi-Strauss as a Cultural System: Geertz’s Chapter on Tristes Tropiques’ Criticism, Heresy and Interpretation, vol. 1, No. 1.
1989 (journal article) ‘The Third Body: Black Art on (Re)View in London’ Criticism, Heresy and Interpretation vol. 3
1990 (conference papers) ‘Introductory Essay’ The Consuming Subjects of Education La Trobe.
1992 (journal article) ‘Photogenic Calcutta- Instamatic Anthropology’ In Media (India) July.
1992 (journal article) ‘Writing for the Space Cadets: reviewing the urban west’ Melbourne Journal of Politics 21:151-167
1992 (conference publication) ‘Value for Money: Giving the $ign to the Bourgeoisie’ IIR Higher Education Summit, Sydney, Australia.
1993 (conference publication) ‘Photogenic Calcutta’ in Postmodern Cities, University of Sydney Department of Architecture and Urban Design.
1993 (conference publication) ‘Technological Dreamtime: the advanced technology park for Redfern’ in Postmodern Cities University of Sydney Department of Architecture and Urban Design.
1994 (conference review) ‘African Research Futures: Post-Colonialism and Identity’ Anthropology Today 10(4):24-25.
1995 (journal article) ‘Writing Calcutta: Travelling with Lévi-Strauss and Gunter Grass’ Kolkata 2000, (India) June pp 31-47.
1996 (Web E-Journal) Review of Bill Martin Humanism and its Aftermath: The Shared Fate of Deconstruction and Politics New Jersey, Humanities Press 1995 in Sociological Research Online 1(4) <www.socresonline.org.uk/1/4/hutnyk.html>
1996 (book review) Martin Stokes (ed) 1994 Ethnicity, Identity and Music: The Musical Construction of Place, Anthropological Notebooks: (Društvo Anthropologov Slovenije) 11(1)146-148.
1997 (occasional paper) ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ Manchester Papers in Social Anthropology No 6, 49pages
1997 (book review) Les Back 1996 New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: racisms and multiculture in young lives, Sociological Review, 45(1)
1997 (book review) Cohen, 1996 Cambridge Survey of World Migration in Race and Class, Vol 38, N0 3
1997 (book review) Spivak 1996 The Spivak Reader in Self, Agency and Society 1(2):178-180.
1998 (book review) Ang 1996 Living Room Wars: Rethinking Media Audiences for a Postmodern World in Sociological Review 46(3):594-598.
1999 (web E-journal article, with Anna Har) ‘Languid, tropical, monsoonal time?: net-activism and hype in the context of South East Asian politics’ in SASKI No. 6. http://www.saksi.com/jul99/huynyk.htm
2000 (web E-Journal article) ‘Culture Move: On Asian Dub Foundation’ in Ghadar: the Forum of Indian Leftists 4(1), May 1 2000 www.proxsa.org/resources/ghadar/v4n1/edit.html
2000 ‘Complicity’ catalogue essay for ‘Assembly’ RCA/Goldsmiths
2000 (debate publication) ‘The Right to Difference is a Fundamental Human Right: Against the Motion’ contribution to GDAT debate No 10, with Corry, S, Jean-Klein, I, Wilson, R, ed Wade, P. The Right to Difference is a Fundamental Human Right University of Manchester, pp40-52 ISBN 0-9527837-3-8. Reprinted in Left Curve No 23, 2001
2001 (journal article in translation) ‘Dog-Tribe’ – Swedish translation of a chapter from Critique of Exotica in Glanta 3. 2001.
2001 (Magazine article, with Virinder Kalra), ‘Postcolonial London’ Seminar, (India).
2005 (journal report) ‘Show Neon Fashion’ – Left Curve ‘Publicity’ section article. Volume 29: 106-107. (California)
2005 (Encyclopaedia entry) ‘Calcutta’ in Vinay Lal and Ashis Nandy eds The Future of Knowledge and Culture New Delhi: Penguin pp 20-25 ISBN 0-67-005813-0
2007 (Magazine article) ‘The politics of Cats’ in Stimulus Respond – e-journal – http://www.stimulusrespond.com
2010 Catalogue essay for Steel Sculptures – Sokari Douglas Camp, London: Douglas Camp Pubs
2013 Pantomime Terror: Diasporic Music and the Politics of Fear. 60,000 monograph,with Zero
2013-14 Colour TV: B&W Life, 45,000 word monograph on culture and film.
2013 Communists Must Write 80,000 word book of essays with Minor Compositions
2013 (?) Trinketization
2014 (?) Capital and Film
a text from 25 years ago – my first published piece on anthropology, metaphor, writing, fakery, rhetoric and circularity, and a bit about Morocco, names, and Rabinow.
just out in South Asian History and Culture – Message me to get a pdf sent (first 50 will get one):
John Hutnyk (2012): ‘Beyond Television Studies‘, South Asian History and Culture, 3:4, 583-590
Just found this in the 2010/1 issue of Third Text on Cinema in the Muslim World. Worth a second look:
I believe the text is free to download/read online, via this link here. Thanks for the shout out credit Ali Nobil Ahmad, gonna read the rest of the issue asap.
a piece on MIA, now available as a pre-print citable version on email request (first 50 only). Shoot me a line to get the code.
a piece on MIA, now available as a pre-print citable version on email request (first 50 only). Shoot me a line to get the code.
Click here to see more:
Book Reviews from the Big Crabapple that is NX, London.
This is a haphazard collection of reviews old and new. Of course we are not competing with any of the other fine book review rags out there from other towns like New York or London, it’s just that…
We will accept contributions where they are by our friends and comrades, where they are really good and so long as they are approved by the unbiased (non parliamentary, ultra-leftist, no touching faith in reformism or the State) editors. We reserve the right to reject (and hunt down, huff and puff, and burn your house etc.) any sexist, racist or pro-capitalist comments or contributions. You know the drill.
We are for reading, for reading in context, for making reading a part of the struggle to transform lives and life – looking for ways to transmute the nasty slime of Capital into something else, something better, whatever it takes. If it takes book reviews too, then here we go. Culture Industry Reconsidered! Film reviews too people – high-brow elitist theory-heavy auto-reflexive hyper-critique inclusive.
Email the editor-ish (you will see, editorial here is a self-organising collective process) John.Hutnyk [at] gold.ac.uk
Three near overlapping events in thee next 10 days for Centre for Cultural Studies people at Goldsmiths:
Write Now! BER-CPH-LON PhD Symposium (Feb 9-11 2012)
You have to, you want to, you need to Write Now!
But how do you publish?
In an atmosphere of loneliness, alienation, rejection, competition, anxiety, hierarchy, nepotism and jealousy, how does the “early career scholar” (re)negotiate the imperative to produce? Given the increases demands of the academic publishing industry, how can we avoid labouring under illusions, false promises and unrealistic expectations?
And yet the pleasures of the text, new platforms and opportunities for publishing and sharing, are there before us.
Open to Goldsmiths PhD candidates of all departments.
Practical aspects of working towards a book publication will be a core part of the symposium.
Bring your ideas, texts, criticism.
no charge (supported by the Goldsmiths Annual Fund).
Deleuze, Philosophy, Transdisciplinarity
Goldsmiths, 10th-12th February
Plenary Speakers: Jean-Claude Dumoncel, Eric Alliez, John Mullarkey, Laura Cull, Anne Sauvagnargues
Invited Speakers: Giuseppe Bianco, Andrew Goffey, Marjorie Gracieuse, Tatsuya Higaki, Christian Kerslake, Iain MacKenzie, Stamatia Portanova, Nathan Widder
Organised by the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London (Masa Kosugi) and the Faculty of Humanities and School of European culture and Languages, the University of Kent (Guillaume Collett)
We are now entering a new phase of Deleuze studies which seeks to understand the specificity of Deleuze’s mode of philosophising. This is necessary, firstly in order to establish an account of his work’s developments and ruptures which is neither reductive nor partisan and secondly, to be able to better situate Deleuze within the context of contemporary thought. While the concept of immanence has recently been seized upon as the way of measuring Deleuze’s philosophical development (Kerslake, 2009; Beistegui, 2010), this conference would like to shift the focus to another yet closely interrelated problematic, which is the concept of philosophy and its essential relation to transdisciplinarity.
What precisely does Deleuze understand by the term ‘philosophy’? In The Logic of Sense, Deleuze states that ‘Philosophy merges with ontology, but ontology merges with the univocity of Being’ (p. 205, Continuum, 2004). Does philosophy have privileged access to a univocal Being that is itself non-philosophical, and which subsumes not only philosophy but also philosophy’s preconditions – what The Logic of Sense refers to as the ‘sciences’ of logic, phenomenology, and psychoanalysis, as well as art? Does Deleuze and Guattari’s re-formulation of this problematic in What is Philosophy? contradict the earlier Deleuze when it appears to posit a more extrinsic relation – or interference – between philosophy, science, and art, all three of which open up to Chaos, which they claim is equally distinct from the preconditions of philosophy, science and art (nonphilosophy, nonscience, nonart)? Are we to understand Deleuze’s concept of philosophy as essentially and inherently transdisciplinary, and if so, how? What is at stake here is the possibility of establishing a ‘common ethico-aesthetic discipline’ (Guattari, Continuum, 2000) and the role of philosophy in such a project.
We aim to have a wide range of papers converging on the concept of philosophy found in Deleuze’s work and dialoguing with the problems we have alluded to. Suggested paper topics include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Deleuze and the history of philosophy: his methodology, his conception of the history of philosophy, his readings of specific philosophers and thinkers
- The place of science and logic in Deleuze’s philosophy
- The place of art in Deleuze’s philosophy
- Deleuze and non-philosophy, and the role of the pre/post-philosophical in his philosophy
- Shifts in Deleuze’s readings of particular philosophers, and more generally in Deleuze’s own concept of philosophy, throughout his career
- The critical assessment of Guattari’s influence on Deleuze’s philosophy
Registration is free but please contact us (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) early if you would like to attend the conference.
**The event is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the School of European Culture and Languages and Faculty of Humanities, the University of Kent, the Centre for Cultural Studies Goldsmiths, and the Graduate School, Goldsmiths, University of London **
Anthropologist Michael Taussig talks about the relationship between writing, culture and time.
“I began began doing fieldwork in 1969. I have returned every year” says Mick Taussig. His writing has spanned a wide range of issues ranging from the commercialization of peasant agriculture to a study of exciting substance loaded with seduction and evil, gold and cocaine, in a montage-ethnography of the Pacific Coast of Colombia. His most recent book ‘I Swear I Saw This’ (University of Chicago Press, 2011) records reflections on the fieldwork notebooks he kept through forty years of travels in Colombia. Taussig considers the fieldwork notebook as a type of modernist literature and the place where writers and other creators first work out the imaginative logic of discovery.
Two quotes from Theories of Surplus Value Vol 1.
‘a writer is a productive laborer not insofar as he produces ideas, but insofar as he enriches the book-seller who publishes his work, or insofar as he is a wage-labourer of a capitalist entrepreneur’
This article is one in an issue becoming quite the popular. Having published a commissioned (unpaid) article with Elsevier – it was called ‘Jungle Studies’, and after proofreading they replaced the phrase ‘For fuck’s sake’ with ‘For God’s sake’ – I know, there are several levels of gah! – I am keen to point out that many publishers are not scum and open access is making some headway, but…
Good material for our forthcoming workshop on publishing and alternative formats for ‘Early Career Researchers’, and I’ve something else coming out on the topic soon.
Read the comments on this piece too – here.
January 13, 2012
In an article that many of you will now have seen, Heather Morrison demonstrated the enormous profits of STM (Scientific, Technical and Medical) scholarly publishers. The figures are taken from her in-progress dissertation which in turn cites an article in The Economist. It all checks out. I emphasise this because I found the figures so hard to believe. Here they are again: profits as a percentage of revenue for commercial STM publishers in 2010 or early 2011:
- Elsevier: £724m on revenue of £2b — 36%
- Springer‘s Science+Business Media: £294m on revenue of £866m — 33.9%
- John Wiley & Sons: $106m on revenue of $253m — 42%
- Academic division of Informa plc: £47m on revenue of £145m — 32.4%
So it’s evident that profits on the order of 35% are pretty typical for commercial STM publishers, and that Elsevier’s figures are not an aberration. Not only that, but all four of these companies’ profits as a proportion of revenue are still increasing — by 2.4%, 4%, 13% and 3.3% respectively. The U.K. Office of Fair Trading noted back in 2002 that “the overall profitability of commercial STM publishing is high, not only by comparison to ‘non-profit’ journals (which is not surprising), but also by comparison to other commercial journal publishing”.
I wanted to be sure that I was assessing this fairly, so I looked through Elsevier’s annual reports for the last nine years — happily, they make them available, if not particularly easy to find. What I found is that they have been consistently bringing in profits in the region of 33% throughout the last decade. Specifically:
- 2002: £429m profit on £1295m revenue – 33.18%
- 2003: £467m profit on £1381m revenue – 33.82%
- 2004: £460m profit on £1363m revenue – 33.75%
- 2005: £449m profit on £1436m revenue – 31.25%
- 2006: £465m profit on £1521m revenue – 30.57%
- 2007: £477m profit on £1507m revenue – 31.65%
- 2008: £568m profit on £1700m revenue – 33.41%
- 2009: £693m profit on £1985m revenue – 34.91%
- 2010: £724m profit on £2026m revenue – 35.74%
(I have not been through the same exercise for Springer, Wiley or Informa, but there is no reason to expect that the results would be any different.)
What does it all mean?
Yes, publishers have a right to make a living. Not only that, but they have a right to make as big a profit as the market can bear (though of course when they form a cartel that distorts the market monopolistically, that changes things).
But here’s what it means to scientists that Elsevier’s profit is 35.74% of revenue:
- When you pay $37.95 to download a PDF from an Elsevier journal, $13.56 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
- When you pay $3000 to have your submission to an Elsevier journal appear as open access, $1072.20 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
- When your library pays $1.7m for a bundle of Elsevier-journal subscriptions, $607,580 of that goes straight into the pockets of Elsevier shareholders.
- When you or your library pays Elsevier $23783 for any reason, that is enough for them fund Representative Caroline Maloney’s $8500 bribe to co-sponsor the evil Research Works Act, out of their profits alone.
You just have to ask yourself whether that’s where you want your money going.
And though this workshop is open only to Goldsmiths Berlin FU and Copenhagen Doctoral School PhDs (its a training workshop) we’d not be adverse to hearing from interested persons. So here is the cfp:
Turning our lives into sausage factory grunt work and mere value extraction. This is all too common. Before electronic rights became a standard in publishing contracts I used to scratch out that part (eg for my Calcutta book, and for ‘Dis-Orienting Rhythms’ – only the latter is online for free – see sidebar to download – since scanning the typeset pages of ‘Rumour of Calcutta’ is so far beyond me. Later books other people have made available, and I point to them where I can – also sidebar). Increasingly the clumsy copyright assignment thing seems an issue to fight since there is something truly obscene about making people who work for free for large journals, where those journals are owned and run as sausage factory style conglomerates. Having to sign away ‘rights’ – as if that really was the key concern (not all journals are like this and open access is a real boon) is something tenured profs can take or leave, but anyone else in need of a publication for validation and employment prospects, ever diminishing, has to swallow it whole. Or do they? Sometimes I’ve just forgotten on purpose to send in the rights form – but then some poorly paid staffer, or even unpaid intern, has to chase it up. So I am watching this little episode, described by Steve Shaviro below, since it is a further fold on the sorry tale. Follow the post to the original at the Pinocchio Theory site and watch the comments to see if there is a resolution. Good luck Steve.
Here we go again. I was asked to sign a contract for an essay I have written, which is scheduled to appear in an edited collection. Let’s leave aside the fact that I wrote the essay — it was solicited for this collection — in summer 2010, and yet it will not appear in print until 2013. I think that the glacial pace of academic publishing is a real problem. But that is not what is bothering me at the moment. The contract that I was asked to sign, so that my essay could appear in an edited volume published by Oxford University Press, contained the following clause:
WORK-FOR-HIRE. The Contributor acknowledges that the Publisher has commissioned the Contribution as a work-for-hire, that the Publisher will be deemed the author of the Contributior as employer-for-hire, and that the copyright in the Contribution will belong to the Publisher during the initial and any renewal or extended period(s) of copyright. To the extent, for any reason, that the Contribution or any portion thereof does not qualify or otherwise fails to be a work-for-hire, theContributor hereby assigns to the Publisher whatever right, title and interest the Contributor would otherwise have in the Contribution throughout the world.I found this entirely unbelievable, and unacceptable. Since when has original academic writing been classified as “work-for-hire”? It is possible, I suppose, that things like writing encyclopedia essays might be so categorized; but I have never, in my 30 years in academa, encountered a case in which primary scholarship or criticism was so classified. Is this something widespread, but which I simply haven’t heard about? I’d welcome information on this score from people who know more about the academic publishing situation than I do. But it seems to me, at first glance, that the Press is upping the ante in terms of trying to monopolize “intellectual property,” by setting up an arrangement that both cuts off the public from access and denies any rights to the henceforth-proletarianized “knowledge worker” or producer. I am unwilling to countenance such an abridgement of my ability to make the words that I have written more freely available.In any case, I wrote back to the Press as follows:
I am unwilling to sign the Contributor’s Agreement for my submission to the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics as it is currently worded. In particular, I find section 2, defining my contribution as work-for-hire, completely objectionable. I entirely reject the notion that original academic work of this sort can be defined as work-for-hire. I think that this is demeaning to academic scholarship and disrespectful of intellectual labor.
Section 2 of the contract further stipulates that even if “the Contribution or any portion thereof does not qualify or otherwise fails to be a work-for-hire, the Contributor hereby assigns to the Publisher whatever right, title and interest the Contributor would otherwise have in the Contribution throughout the world.” I find this objectionable as well. Even if my contribution to the volume is exempted from being considered work-for-hire, I am unwilling to sign over my own rights to the publisher in this unlimited way. In particular, I insist upon retaining, among other rights, the right to make my contribution available for download on my own website and the right to include this contribution at some later date as part of a self-authored publication.I guess we will see what happens. I hope the Press backs down and offers more reasonable terms. If that doesn’t happen, I will simply have to withdraw my contribution from the edited volume. At some point, the essay will appear on my website for free download — whether because the publisher backs down and permits me to do this, or whether I give up on print publication.Not getting the essay into print will mean that I won’t get the credit (or a line in my Vita) for the publication of an article that I am, in fact, rather proud of. This kind of credit matters in academia — salaries, among other things, are based on it. But as a full Professor with tenure I am in a rather privileged position: I can afford to lose the credit. The same is not the case for academics in more precarious positions — who might well be forced to sign away their rights in cases like this, because their jobs heavily depend upon their publication record, and one additional line on their Vita might make a major difference.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 at 11:37 am and is filed underPersonal, Politics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
The fine folk at the Finnish Anthropology Society asked me to respond to Jason Toynbee’s piece ‘The Critical Accomplice’ (issue 3/2011) where he started out by saying: ‘In this piece I focus upon anthropology’s close ally in the contemporary social sciences, cultural studies. I argue that its core concepts and drives – some increasingly shared by anthropologists are in need of serious critique’ (p60). Jason’s text is well worth a read, but I suspect it would be a copyright violation to repost it here. I will write him to see. In the meantime, you can read my response, which is an oblique one – a re-versioning of a piece written for Tarcisco and previously only available in Portuguese.
A text on NDTV 24×7.
NDTC x 24 Hanging Channel - click for pdf scan.
* A study of 24 hour Delhi based news channel NDTV’s reporting of the case of Mohammed Afzal Guru, framed for the Dec 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament and sentenced to hang. This chapter is 9000 words and was published at the start of 2011. Based on substantial television research, viewing and reading or reports, screen analysis of station idents etc. Was originally a conference keynote at a Asian Media conference at SOAS and given once as a talk at the prestigious National Indian Research Institute Shimla.
click on the page to download a pdf of this text (now with all the images).
Here, from the cobweb-covered vault,
a discussion document from 1992, on writing:
Communists Must Write, and how!
There are various ways in which the political vacuum which we have so sorely felt in recent years can be countered. The need for a party, its support and discipline, its organisational strengths and sense of purpose has the potential to turn rhetoric into activity. Without doubt we are all well sick of people saying what must be done and having the words carried away in the wind. There has been much conversation among friends, in pubs and elsewhere, in the meetings of our various organisations, at demonstrations and amongst the collectivities of social movements and NIMBY protests, etc., etc., but there is not enough, as yet, to show.
It has also been admitted that among our urgent tasks are the self-educational work of reading groups, writing papers, and the development of a left culture which includes a practical-theoretical analysis of the conditions in which we work. As much has often been stated. Rhetorically!
There are those who may say that communism is verbose, and any set of collected and/or selected works of Marx, Lenin, Mao, Luxemburg, Dunayevskaya, Leon, Joseph, Mazumdar, etc., will show that these communists wrote all the time — letters, tracts, pamphlets, monographs and more. Yes, we may now live in the era of late-night-television capitalism, yes the written word is a privileged form and draws accusations of stylised alienation, rhetorical authority, intellectualism, elitism, theory and that bitter term of abuse, journalism, but, I think, we are still obliged to write. The question I want to pose is how.
As a preliminary step, which we must repeat over and over, we might read some of the many and various communist texts which refer to writing. It is not possible to mention them all, nor desirable — since I think this issue must be kept under discussion all the time, continually renewed. Nevertheless, a few scattered points might offer us something to go on with now. It is important to take these older texts seriously even while agreeing with Guattari and Negri on “the reopening of a revolutionary cycle” which shall proceed “Not by the repetition of old slogans, but through the intervention of new perspectives on action, and by a redefinition of communism as enrichment, diversification of community and consciousness” (Guattari and Negri 1990:28) What follows is a proposal which, while looking to past work, sets out towards writing now.
[Keep reading – the entire paper is COMMSMUS2]
 Much more work must be done on this paper. I’m sorry that these are very rough notes for a discussion paper — and so for several reasons I don’t want them to be copied or circulated further than this meeting. The reasons include my embarrassment at how obvious much of this is, the fact that it is a rushed job, and that any serious treatment of the topic of writing would be best pursued in a more collaborative manner than this first draft can reflect. I have also not made use, in the paper, of section five of Lenin’s What is to be done? (1902) which bears directly on this topic and which would be an unavoidable reference point for our discussion.
 Marx wrote for many newspapers; Lenin wrote endless numbers of letters; the texts of Mao’s speeches were widely distributed within and beyond the party; Raya Dunayevskaya was an assistant to Trotsky for a while, but left for ‘ideological reasons’ to write a great fat book called Philosophy and Revolution 1973, Columbia University Press, and another called Rosa Luxemberg, Women’s Liberation and Marx’s Philosophy of Revolution, 1981, Uni of Illinois Press; Charu Mazumdar was a leader of the Maoist Naxalite uprising in India which formed the basis of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), he wrote many pithy and sharp pamphlets against the Landlords in India under the slogan “Annihilate the class enemy!”. The pen can be brutal when necessary.
[Keep reading – the entire paper is COMMSMUS2]
‘Culture Move‘ on ADF: in Ghadar May 2000
early version of the Pantomime Terror article
an article on Asian Communists in the UK from Social Identities ;
a piece on Fun*Da*Mental from South Asian Popular Culture;
Adorno at Womad from Postcolonial Studies.
The Chapatti Story from Contemporary South Asia;
Michael Palin’s Himalaya in in Journal of the Moving Image
The Politics of Cats from Stimulus Respond;
Culture from Theory Culture Society New Encyclopedia Project
Bataille’s Wars from Critique of Anthropology;
Jungle Studies from Futures;
Photogenic Poverty: Souvenirs and Infancy from the Journal of Visual Culture;
Hybridity from Ethnic and Racial Studies;
also Hybridity as ‘Contact Zones’ in shorter form at Transversal here.
and with Laura King, ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Gaius Baltar’ from Breaching the Colonial Contract: Anti-Colonialism in the US and Canada, ’Chapter Twelve – King and Hutnyk‘ [spoilers to end of BSG S03E20)
FULL TEXT OF Bad Marxism: Capitalism and Cultural Studies, from Scribed.
Thursday 07 April 2011, 6 – 9pm,
V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA
THE PAPERED PARLOUR GOES EAST!
Time Out First Thursdays at V&A Museum of Childhood
It’s Your Write: A Celebration of the Self-Published!
Artists, Musicians, Performers and Writers get political this April
Thursday 07 April 2011, 6–9pm
FREE TO ATTEND
This March witnessed record-breaking numbers attend The Papered Parlour’s ethical fashion evening at the V&A Museum of Childhood, now the Parlour girls return to the East London venue to host ‘It’s Your Write’, a mini festival celebrating a new wave of DIY counter-culture and craftivism. Sing, stitch and scribble your way into the political arena with the help of London’s creative elite!
Engage in workshops, join in panel discussions, watch performances, and browse over 20 stalls from independent creators to the beat of a live music backdrop from Noah and The Whale’s Indie label ‘The Young and Lost Club’, who will bring new bands Planet Earth, Hot Feet and Florian Lunaire. Nick Hornby’s Ministry of Stories will kick off the night with a collaborative writing workshop, and you can make badges and banners thanks to The Craftivist Collective and Craft Guerrilla’s Zeena Shah. Be inspired by folk champion Sam Lee as he sheds light on the rich political history of Romany Gypsy and Traveller music, write that letter you haven’t had time for at the aptly named Letter Lounge, or find out how to make a ‘zine’ worth reading thanks to self-publishing collective, The Alternative Press.
The Papered Parlour will be running a live blogging station on the night and Guardian investigative journalist of the moment Shiv Malik will be discussing the changing nature of protests with founding member ofStop the War Coalition Chris Nineham, environmental activist and Climate Rush founder Tamsin Omond, and the most talked-about activist group of the past year, UK Uncut.
Discover the ‘do it yourself’ movement by joining in a creative night led by singers, songwriters, authors and digital artists as they take over the museum and present an alternative perspective on global city living free of the big corporations.
More About the Evening
- Lindsey German will be talking about her career as the UK’s most prominent female activist.
- Cool indie band Planet Earth will lead a workshop on protest song writing.
- The Women’s Library and The Institute for International Arts (Iniva) will share highlights on collecting
women’s zines, dating back to Riot Grrrl.
- Illustrator and designer David Janes will discuss his political portrait series, 650 Gargoyles.
- Typewriter artist Keira Rathbone will be in residence with her vintage typewriter.
- AND Publishing discuss the wave of book piracy hitting emerging countries and explore text
- Interventions from The University for Strategic Optimism and Climate Rush.
- Plus the It’s Your Write Book Swap and The World’s Largest Knitted Poem courtesy of The Poetry Society.
Notes to Editor
It’s Your Write: A Celebration of The Self-Published is a mini-festival that brings together artists, activists and the general public to discuss self-publishing and activism through the frame of art and design. Organized by The Papered Parlour, the event aims to engage audiences with lively cross-disciplinary discussions and hands-on workshops that promote an active and imaginative approach to art and activism. It’s Your Write: A celebration of the self-published takes place at:
V&A Museum of Childhood, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA / www.museumofchildhood.org.uk
Talks & Panel Discussion
Chris Nineham (@chrisnine) – One of the UK’s most established and high-profile political activists. He is national organiser of the Stop the War Coalition (‘Britatin’s Biggest Mass Movement’) and was a founding member of the Stop the War Coalition and Counterfire.
Shiv Malik (@shivmalik1) – Investigative journalist of the moment, Shiv Malik has a column in the Guardian, and regularly contributes to New Statesman. Shiv recently co-wrote the book, The Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth.
Lindsey German (@lindseygerman) – One of the most prominent female socialists in the UK, Lindsey German was editor of the Socialist Review for twenty years. She has twice stood as the Left Wing candidate for Mayor of London.
Aaron Peters of UK Uncut (UKUncut) – The most talked-about UK activist group of the past year. The use of social media is central to UK Uncut’s communication with its audiences and supporters.
Tamsin Omond (@tamsinomond) - Environmental activist, author of Rush: The Making of a Climate Activist, and Climate Rush founder.
Chaired by Academic Director and Convenor of PhD Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, John Hutynk.
David Janes (@davidsjanes) – Illustrator and designer, discussing his political portraits and self-publishing.
Sam Lee (http://www.samleesong.co.uk/) – Exploring the use of folk music in the Romany Gypsy and Traveller as a means of political protest, and performing a sampling of songs from the genre.
The London Women’s Library (@WomensLibrary) and Iniva (@StuartHallLib) – Discussing their extensive collection of feminist zines with samples of the zines to consult.
FineCell Work (@finecellwork) – Find out more from this charity using embroidery and cross stitch in prisons through London.
Keira Rathbone (@KRTypewriterArt) - Will be in residence with her vintage typewriter.
The Ministry of Stories (@Mini_Stories) – Learn more about the secret Ministry through this collaborative writing workshop.
Craft Guerrilla’s Zeena Shah (@heartzeena) – Stitch Your Message onto a badge with Zeena.
The Craftivist Collective (@craftivists) and Climate Rush (@ClimateRush) – Make patchwork train carriages for the Rushette’s Railway Adventures project campaigning against escalating rail prices.
AND publishing (http://www.andpublishing.org/) – Interactive workshop and talk on book piracy.
Alternative Press (www.alternativepress.org.uk) – ‘Make a zine in a night’ with Jimi Gherkin, including spontaneous contributions from workshop leaders, speakers and stallholders for the official It’s Your Write zine to be assembled and distributed at the end of the night.
Letter Lounge (@letterlounge) – When was the last time you wrote a good old fashioned letter?
Planet Earth – Write a new protest song that will be performed at the end of the evening by Planet Earth.
The Young and Lost Club DJ set (@YALCRecords)
Plus 20 specially selected self-publishers and DIY artists, campaign stalls including
The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies pop-up shop
Economic Thought Project
Neil McNally, Ouse Records
The Women’s Library and Iniva
EDITION ONE IS COMING SOON (ISH).
WRITE FOR US!
In this issue:
- The Shoplifter’s Conundrum: Musings on a (non) scandal
- Post-fordist protest
- A retreat to be sure, but a retreat to the only possible victory
- Loveable and Capable
- We are political
- Dangerous Alliances: Class and the Student Movement
- Demonstrations and Diversions
- Libya’s Lost Promise
- Precariousness and the university
- DIY Guide No. 2: Police Guide To Facilitating Peaceful Protest
We have printed 2000 copies of Edition Zero – copies will be available in all good occupations, social centers, bookstores and a few universities too!
If you can help us distribute it please let us know
If you want to contribute to the next edition (with writing, editing or printing) send us an email on emailthepaper[at]gmail.com – deadline for content is 16 March.
If you want a copy of The Paper sent to you and your friends for free - then please send us your address and how many copies you’d like.
[please forward this message to interested folks and networks]
The Paper editorial collective
Download a copy of The Paper Edition Zero
Sokari Douglas Camp
I am honoured to introduce this collection by Sokari Douglas Camp.
Sokari’s sculptural works – made in metal but moving fabric – are like an analytical textbook that deals with contemporary issues while also offering a passionate call to arms. The pieces that you can see in this brochure, but which must really be met in the flesh, question and comment on topics of importance and controversy, demanding answers from us all. Confronted with these weighty statements, I feel that, as with the best books and most challenging writers, I am being asked to think differently than I do – perhaps this is the whole point of art, and of reading, and of thinking. Sokari’s works do it over and over – there is much to them and they start a conversation. They ask us all to think why injustice prevails, why (all) people matter, why we have this world and not another?
Anger transmuted into a provocation that stands in the way – on the corner of a patch of grass or on a pedestal in a square, both ornamental and demanding – and more and more she comes with the questions: Why is this happening? Where are the people? Who will care? Do you not recognize yourself here?
These works are not simple reactions to the particular controversies they depict. Their meanings are not contained in terms of ‘straight’ representation of oil spills or racist attacks or similar. They elevate a political diagnostic to the monumental, but also exist very much at a human level. Life-size moulded bronze or beaten steel statues that also celebrate the everyday in a context where global forces – colonialism, oil imperialism, migration and genocide – buffet and wear away at our puny corporeal selves.
This work is an affirmative critique, celebrated in bodies and dress and performance. The huge metal pieces have the power to move.
There is a deep timeliness in Sokari’s art, a relevance and urgency that offers a longer and wider reach into significance than much that is indulgent or, dare I suggest this, complicit and wilfully obscurantist in art today. These issues, read here in metal, are more urgent and the responses more durable than most commentary would allow. We know we need these provocations, and we need them because of and despite the fleeting treatment of ‘issues’ by television news and broadsheet press. Sokari’s work is current affairs in concrete, manifold machine music, solid social science – each work drops to the pavement as perpetual presence and everyday enthusiasm. Her works are joyous, angry, complicated simple conversations with the world now. Planetary interpretation. Asking us to change. Alchemy.
I am against non-partisan writing, and, not altogether randomly, want to refer to Lenin to support this, where he writes:
“Down with non-partisan writers. Down with literary supermen. Literature must become part of the common cause of the proletariat” (Lenin 1905 Party Organisation and Party Literature).
In a way that long anticipates the post-structuralist interest in the political importance of the structures of information dissemination, Lenin wrote in 1905 that:
literature must by all means necessary become an element of … party work … Newspapers must become the organs of the various party organisations, and their writers must by all means become members of these organisations. Publishing and distributing centres, bookshops and reading rooms, libraries and similar establishments — must all come under party control (Lenin 1905 Party Organisation and Party Literature – emphasis added)
Still earlier Lenin had placed the founding of the party newspaper at the beginning of the project of founding a party:
“We can and must immediately set about founding the party organ — and, it follows, the Party itself — and putting them on a sound footing” (Lenin 1899 An Urgent Question).
In this text Lenin says that discussion and haphazard or eclectic communist work is ‘amateurish’ when it is not all organised in “such a way that it is reflected in its entirety in one common organ” (Lenin 1899). The whole of What is to be done? takes this up in detail. Lenin offers a deconstruction, or rather demolition, of the arguments of the ‘opportunists’ who opposed the founding of Iskra. The need for such a ‘common’ forum, of course in no way implies the homogenisation of all communist work into the one mold (as if this would be desirable, possible or meaningful at all). But it does demand organisation and discipline.
Marx, writing on the Paris Commune, singled out the writings of academic ‘gentlemen’:
the working class can afford to smile at the course invective of the gentlemen’s gentlemen with the pen and inkhorn, and at the didactic patronage of well-wishing bourgeois-doctrinaires, pouring forth their ignorant platitudes and sectarian crotchets in the oracular tone of scientific infallibility (Marx 1871 The Civil War in France)
This is much more than just a critique of the the ‘science’ of the institutions, and everyone is well aware that all writing is marked with the circumstances in which it is situated. Writing and reading are co-constituted together in a variety of highly charged political contexts and along with paying attention to the institutionalised ‘politics’ of academic writing and of the mainstream media, we are also obliged to look at the ways these contexts bare upon all writing. The trace of ‘objectivity’ is still apparent in so much work from the left, especially academic and journalistic work — as if by some agreement with the higher privilege of serious writing we have forgotten the invective and politics of leaflet and pamphlet styles.
In 1942 Mao Tse Tung addressed a Yenan meeting on the topic of ‘Stereotyped Party Writing’ and the role of writing within revolutionary activity. Developing an earlier essay on the Party’s style of work, he presented eight points of criticism against the boring eight part essays of ‘stereotyped party writers’ — using “poison as the antidote to poison” (Mao Selected Works, Vol 3 p.56). His indictments are as follows:
• against the filling of endless pages with verbiage, against the writing of long and empty articles that few if any will read. “We are in the midst of a war, and we should learn how to write shorter and pithier articles” (Mao SW3:56).
• against writing that strikes a pose in order to intimidate people. “Some stereotyped party writing is not only long and empty, but also pretentious” (Mao SW3:57). It is important to explain concepts, and to avoid the patronising attitude that privileges intellectual work over other activities. The difficulty entailed in this at the same time at which educational work is considered of utmost importance must be kept in constant tension.
• against writing that “shoots at random, without considering the audience” (Mao SW3:58). “Some comrades, however, are shooting without a target, shooting at random, and such people are liable to harm our work” (Mao SW3:42). “We must propagate materialism and dialectics” (Mao SW3:49)
• against “drab language … [against writing that is] wizened and ugly … without a shred of vigour or spirit” (Mao SW3:59).
• against complicated sets of headings that do nothing to attend to the problems under discussion,that name rather than analyse. Mao says: “In order to solve a problem it is necessary to make a systematic and thorough investigation and study. This is the process of analysis … and it is needed; otherwise, faced with a chaotic and bewildering mass of phenomena, you will not be able to discern where the problem or contradiction lies” (Mao SW3:61).
• against irresponsible writing which harms people wherever it appears.
• against writing which jeopardizes the revolution. If you have observed little, do not write. If you have nothing useful to say, do not write. Similarly, if there is something to be said, something you have observed, you must write.
• against the poisons of subjectivism and sectarianism, which harms the organisation and the work of people sympathetic to communism. Subjectivism, as described by Mao in a 1942 essay Rectify the Party’s Style of Work, includes a muddled separation of ‘theory and practice’ in which those who constantly talk about this link are the very ones guilty of maintaining the separation. “How is Marxist-Leninist theory to be linked with the practice of the revolution?” Mao asks. If the Marxist-Leninist method of dialectical materialism is “an arrow” to be shot at the target of the revolution, then those people who “stroke the arrow fondly, exclaiming, ‘What a fine arrow! What a fine arrow!’ bet never want to shot it” are the most harmful. “These people are merely connoisseurs of curios and have virtually nothing to do with the revolution” (Mao SW3:42). Sectarianism within the oganisation and against cadres of other like-minded organisations is “usually wedded to the doctrine of ‘me first’” (Mao SW3:44) and indicates an individualist pride that does not always help — “After reading a few Marxist books, such comrades become more arrogant instead of more modest, and invariably dismiss others as no good without realizing that in fact their own knowledge is only half-baked” (Mao SW3:48).
[From an internal communist party discussion paper written in 1992 - only recently decoded by the compatibility services of Mac OSX!]
Topical this week, but its always been true that the way the pages crumple one by one as they burn is strangely fascinating….
Via the link is a chapter length text I wrote some time ago (currently under consideration for Space and Culture). Given a certain newsworthiness in relation to the eye-popping-mad pastor Terry Jones, some people might like to read the preview version:
Sexy Sammy and Red Rosie? From Burning Books to the War on Terror.
Abstract: Writing within the sonic register of a soundtrack that plundered the diasporic mindset of a certain ‘London’ massive, Hanif Kureishi was widely criticised for his contribution as writer to two films in the 1980s: My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). Less lyrically perhaps – and less filmic – Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses was famously set on fire in Bradford in 1989. There is a soundtrack here that can map the anti-racist sexualities, street riots and book-burnings that are taken to mark the mobilization of a diverse and complicated British-Asian presence on the streets of the UK. The point that interests me here is the reconfiguration of the streetscape of diaspora and terror in the years since these films and the burning of the book. The figure of Rosie is interesting because her cultural politics helps occlude an older engagement that was first displaced by identity concerns and is now overwritten with sinister consequences. The street musicians that accompany her urban meanderings embroider affect in a way that segues easily into a culture industry resignation. Burning streets and books (not particularly good in themselves) are replaced with a more virulent racial profiling in contemporary times – a constant anxiety about and accusations against Muslims, and by extension all British-Asians, made uncomfortable (at best, bombed into democracy elsewhere). Sammy forlorn.
Key words: street, queer, riot, British-Asian, book-burning, Kureishi, Rushdie
Continue reading the full chapter here .
8. The cartoon is contained in the frame, and can safely say so much more because of that protection. Oftentimes what is illustrated in art and comedy can be far more critical than the editorials or headline ‘breaking news’. But as we also know, even in Denmark, politics can spill over the border of this containment. There are many such incidents – it seems no coincidence today that the 20 year old furore around Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses marks the beginning of a global ‘attention’ to a politics of Islam. Rushdie’s novel can be discussed in a wide variety of ways of course. Certain anthropologists identified the ‘Rushdie Affair’ as a moment of awakening for a diasporic identity formation in the UK (we can safely consign them to a sidebar, see Hutnyk 2006). Other writers, however, assimilate the event to new times. Recently Kenan Malik attempts a strange amalgam of anti-racist activist history and condemnation of ‘the multiculturalist’ tendency in the British context that owes much, but does not fully acknowledge, the work of Sivinandan and the Institute of Race Relations. What happened around Rushdie’s book? Banned first a few months earlier in India, there was then a celebrated, televised, burning of the book in Bradford by those who, according to Malik, acted in large part:
“because of disenchantment with the secular left, on the one hand, and the institutionalisation of multicultural policies, on the other. The disintegration of the left in the 1980s, the abandonment by leftwing organisations of the politics of universalism in favour of ethnic particularism, and the wider shift from the politics of ideology to the politics of identity, pushed many young, secular Asians towards Islamism as an alternative worldview” (http://www.kenanmalik.com/lectures/rushdie_boi.html accessed 6 June 2009)
The critique of ethnicity, identity and multiculturalism misfires, however, where Malik insists on universalism as if it were the only and antithetical inverse of identity and ethnicity. Caught in a complimentary logic, Malik repeats the obvious and automatic reaction – and endorses an integration model for Britain. The case can be, and has been, made that ‘ethnic funding’ elevated culturalist ‘community leaders’ as a ‘bulwark’ with which to undermine militant anti-racist alliances, but to then diagnose the problem as culture and insist on its overcoming in some naïve secular French Republic type model is a deeply conservative, even nationalist, error.
More interesting is Gayatri Spivak’s essay on The Satanic Verses, which uses the occasion of Rushdie to consider other cases written out of the record (Shahbano made a ‘figure’ in a contest over votes), to reflect on the position of Southall Black Sisters in relation to the ‘controversy’ as crisis, to then in this context think about ‘freedom of expression’-talk and the ‘uses to which the spectacular rational abstractions of democracy can sometimes be put’ (Spivak 1993: 241). Rushdie, accused of complicity with the West’s imperialist ‘crusade’ against Islam by Ayatollahs and others, surely did not know or intend the extent to which his little fiction would offend, even as he aimed to offend indeed (as he had oftentimes done – Midnights’ Children and Shame both also banned).
The Satanic Verses, as art, went unread. Instead something of a rumour (Spivak 1993:228) spread that Rushdie had engaged in ‘gossip’ about the prophet, that he had blasphemed against the Quran. Again politics, here on the part of postcolonial metropolitan activists (not subalterns) proceeds without full representation. Of course it is almost bad taste now to think of Rushdie’s book in terms of the theoretical interests or fashions of its time of writing. The controversy has a different context now, that cannot ignore the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, Iran was central in a different way, an the Ayatollah railed against America. Then also, the death of the author thematic, signed under the proper names of Barthes and Foucault, alongside celebrations of the schizoid self, did not make for easy jokes about he fatwah.
Spivak pointed out at the time that there might be critics of her reading of The Satanic Verses that might complain that she ‘gives resistance no speaking part’ in Rushdie’s text (Spivak 1993:226). But if the book does not enact resistance as a character, perhaps we can agree with Spivak that to ‘“state the problem” is not bad politics’. She continues: ‘In fact, it might be poor judgement to consider academy or novel as straight blueprint for action on the street’ (Spivak 1993:227). I do not find this far from Adorno’s critique of an introspective protest against order that is indifferent to, and so compatible with, that order. Rushdie’s book explores blasphemy and ambiguity within Islam – a complication neither trenchant defenders of the Holy Book, nor those who attack Islam, and desecrate the book in prisons like Bahgram or Guantanamo, can assimilate.
Any art as blueprint for action of course again invokes the metaphor of the architect, not the bees. A novel, or academic test, as blueprint for action condemns actors to repetition (18th Brumaire) and containment (its not the 1960s anymore). This is true if one is wanting postcolonial engagement around race and gender ambivalence, or if revolutionary change is a goal – in each case scripted responses invite containment.
9. Book burning has its own heritage – degenerate art, lost libraries, the exotic image of Alexandria and the horrors of National Socialism. Pornographic books destroyed, Andre Malraux’s manuscript burned on his capture in 1944, the Leuven University library in Belgium in WW1, the Jaffna, Sarevo and Abhazian libraries in recent civil wars. Kafka’s books, the Master’s manuscript in Bulgakov’ Margarita , the chivalry books of Don Quixote, the firemen destroying books in F˚451
On May 10, 1933 the Deutsche Studentenschaft (German Student Association) burned a great many books in Berlin’s Opernplatz after proclaiming them degenerate and un-German.
In 1953 Senator McCarthy and Eisenhower ordered overseas US libraries to remove from their shelves books by communists and fellow-travellers (they burned them).
Rushdie’s book burned in Bradford, insults the Quran. The Quran itself associates the word of god with the honey of bees (‘Honey is a remedy for every illness and the Qur’an is a remedy for all illness of the mind, therefore I recommend to you both remedies, the Qur’an and honey’ (Bukhari) http://www.islamicresearch.org/bees%20hidden%20miracle.htm accessed June 5 2009). Beekeepers know that smoke is a tool of control. Rushdie’s insult is to make pornography of the revelation, the sacred origin of this text. He inserts new verses into the revelation, and authorship of them is given to a doubly mischevious archangel. As they appear in the drama of the book, those verses were of course already something to be interpreted politically, in terms of blueprint and control. They are a script the book excised in exactly the most insulting passage that offended those in Bradford. Rushdie has the ‘businessman’, a false but read as if the, prophet, tussle with the angel in a way that makes the revelation of the book pornographic or at least obscene. The prophet wrestles with the archangel in a cave 500 feet below the summit of Mount Cone with tongues in mouths and fists round balls only to end up with ‘Mahound’ pinned to the ground and the archangel’s mouth ‘open and making the voice, the Voice, pour out … [and] pour all over him, like sick’ (Rushdie 1988:123). That Mahound awakes later in the cave and realizes a previous visitation had been Shaitan’ ‘that he had been tricked, so that the devil came to him in the guise of the archangel, so that the verses he memorized, the ones he recited in the poetry tent, were not the real thing but its diabolical opposite, not godly, but satanic’. Mahound rushes back to the city to expunge a previous false revelation – ‘to expunge the foul verses that reek of brimstone and sulphur, to strike them for the record for ever and ever, so that they will survive in just one or two unreliable collections’ (Rushdie 1988:123).
Of course this is an insult to Islam, and in some ways indeed worse, more mischievous, than the insults so well known in Bahgram. Have you ever burnt a book? Golden Bough…
Next in the series – 10 and 11 is here: http://wp.me/pcKI3-zG
Previous posts in this list:
[Spoiler alert: the comments are closed on this particular post because the twisted madness of the first ten or so responses - which I have happily left up as forensic evidence - included various ultra dubious film clips that somehow attract a mad number of useless pingbacks if comments are open. If you are not a robot, and I know many of you are struggling with that ontological head-frak, it is still possible to comment elsewhere. cheers.]
pdfs of articles by John Hutnyk here:
- an article on Asian Communists in the UK from Social Identities ;
a piece on Fun*Da*Mental from South Asian Popular Culture;
The Chapatti Story from Contemporary South Asia;
The Politics of Cats from Stimulus Respond;
Culture from Theory Culture Society New Encyclopedia Project
Bataille’s Wars from Critique of Anthropology;
Jungle Studies from Futures;
Photogenic Poverty: Souvenirs and Infancy from the Journal of Visual Culture;
Hybridity from Ethnic and Racial Studies;
also Hybridity as ‘Contact Zones’ in shorter form at Transversal here.
For Kiwi and Alexander’s book, I’ve started (very late, overdue) to reconstruct my talk from the Berlin Chameleons conference in Feb last year. Its a draft as yet. Here is the first stab at an intro….
I have that sinking feeling again: I don’t trust the chameleon. I don’t like the guise. The chameleon is embedded, goes undercover, incognito, prefers covert operations, stealth, intrigues, performs with a secret agency, organizes an underground resistance, clandestine ops, a conspirator of deception. The associative range of ‘camouflage’ and ‘immersion’, when thought of as something that might pass as a strategy for understanding work in the arts, humanities or social sciences, immediately invokes a range of military and official connotations that do not bode well for a progressive politics of knowledge. Journalists as well as academics have been exposed in various local dress, false stories have been planted in the press, dossier’s collected that masquerade as truth, propaganda lies. There are a great many examples of dishonesty, feint and deceit that pass as truth amongst the casualty machine that is war. Increasingly war is fought in the media theatre as well as in blood – with murderous weapons on the ground, and equally brutal machines of war on screen.
The military have always liked to dress up, often in burlesque manner, and it was only with modern warfare that flamboyance was not always a dress code. All those red tunics of Empire of yore… Contemporary wars now sport desert patters or jungle greens, and contemporary war reporters increasingly opt for battle field chic in their to-camera reports. Television news and documentary series thrive on the new aesthetic of the embedded, combat boot wearing, hot spot on the spot presenter, mimicking military campaigns to stream live from Baghdad, Kabul, or the border of Gaza (as I write few journalists can enter Gaza as Israel relentlessly shells a trapped population of millions). The theatre of war has its own costume department.
This is, of course, also true of the opposition. In this chapter I will have something to say of the Palestinian scarf, the Kufiya, in relation to solidarity and resistance, and fashion, just as I think its important to acknowledge the symbolism of media use on both sides. In news and commentary, there are critics of war who stage their interventions with a certain style just as much as do the public relations and publicity-conscious Generals. I think not only of the Japanese news presenter that wore such a Kufiya every night as he reported the attacks on Baghdad in 2003, but also the role of such a scarf in the iconography of Aki Nawaz from Fun^da^mental, a long-time severe critique of anti-Muslim aggression. This chapter wishes to chart a politics of representation and fashion, recognising perhaps that all camouflage is war; that all fashion shoots are hostile; that all journalism happens by way of conflict. Today, whether safe at home before the screen, or on the streets of <insert battle-zone name here>. all our reports are war stories.
The chapter will go on to discuss Aki Nawaz’s recent adventures in media and on the Free Gaza boat, Ted Swedenburg’s excellent Hawgblawg, and research strategies under conditions of total war….
It is probably important not to allow the vignette to replace analysis, the two are tied together, but we don’t want the story to provide an alibi for those who would avoid the implications of the theory. Here, elegance of prose can camouflage politics. This is particularly the case amongst those who would emphasize the post in post-colonialism, and use this as an opportunity to pretend colonialism has past, and in effect to write as if it never happened. This does happen, and is the modern equivalent of those anthropologists who benefited from the infrastructural facts of colonial power but claimed to have no part in the project. Staging opposition. The founding myth of fieldwork – of Malinowski almost accidentally ‘shipwrecked’ in the South Seas – rehearses this deceit.
There are several versions. The idea that missionaries – or anthropologists – were not also participating in the colonial order, however much some revisionist apologist (anthr-apologists) might want to complicate the position, cannot be ignored. Definitely, looking at the ways the ‘West’ travelled and was transformed in travel, is something that deserves more attention, but should not be taken as some sort of alibi for the violences of that travel (as sometimes happens with such work – I consider Dick Werbner’s various citations of the ‘anthropologists were not always complicit in colonialism’ routine to be in very poor taste/bad faith). The descendants of Gluckman may revere his little run-ins with the colonial authorities in Africa as ‘proof’ that he was not part of colonialism, when of course he was etc.
Why does it matter that telling stories clarifies the colour of politics? – perhaps because the slippage is the hinge of reaction. At the pomo workbench the maintenance of ongoing colonialisms slips past on the palanquin of narrative – even where the analysis oscillates between anecdotal evidence and the illustration of capitalist violence, the too-easy take up of only the storybook gems from the colonial scene rehearses again the Raj extraction process. Violence of partial explanations that serve the conquest (which of course does not mean we dream of a ‘full’ explanation, but that there are some less credible than others and we know which ones serve masters and which lead elsewhere).
Think for a moment of the way selective listening forges the subjectivity of oppression (perhaps in this telling the Emperor’s new clothes is not so much a story of the sycophantic courtiers as an exposure of the necessary blindness of naked power). As ever, the complexities of the circumstance can be recruited to tell another tale, more amenable to capital. The Emperor’s new clothes also tells of transition to the social relations of contemporary production – the young boy who exposes it all is nothing if not a culture hero of a brutal reality we face and embrace for good and bad.
Anthropologists who were recalcitrant and troublesome for colonialism may still unwittingly (or not – so often wittingly) be those best placed to extend colonial hegemony and power. This can be seen to happen through several modes; through the promotion of culture, through the mechanisms of inscription (cf. copies of the book of Nuer prophets in the hands of contemporary Nuer – Johnson), through focus on identity, and identifications, through reification and so on. It is important not only to see this in anecdotal terms, even where the anecdotes are so compelling, but rather to recognize the vignettes as examples of a web of institutionalized power (persuasive AND coercive force) deployed systematically across the globe. That the term post-colonialism has one part of its heritage in literature has enabled some to make the anecdotal narration of post-modern anthropology into a methodological doxa, and along the way renounced any theoretical specificity and ushered in a still more reactionary politics than ever before. The other more explicitly political sources for the term post-colonial require a more nuanced comprehension of the ironic and restricted way in which the term was used to refer to a certain betrayal of anti-colonial struggle on the part of national elites and the comprador classes after the so-called fact of decolonisation (Spivak). Within the horizon of this conception of the post-colony anecdotal post-modernisms appear as spurious frivolity.
Finance sector alpha drone
Service sector beta drone
Decline of manufacturing/
Export of manufacturing
The finance and creative sector is not neutral/
…middle class and liberal-academic chatter provides an alibi/
… for a war on terror which is also global finance and race/class privilege/
- – asylum ‘fears’
– eastern Europe
- – Muslim profiling
- – racism’s histories
+++Class as articulated through above
++Gender an extension of the above
Campaigns for tolerance or hospitality not nearly enough
- acceptable face of racism used to prepare ground for:
- – greater than ever use of the ‘war of terror’ and ‘clash of cultures to police
- ingrained racism that leaves Africa in ‘darkness’
… and the poor in Asian and the Americas (Mexicans, Blacks [not Condoleezza])
… … and globalized women’s labour, unemployment, lumpenization
on the wrong side of the international division of privilege
Despite well-meaning middle-class liberal urban campaigns ‘for Africa, against racism, against trafficking, for a free Tibet … for democracy…
Popular classes – workers and communities unite, against the comprador clergy – for new alliances against capitalism and its liberal apologists, nationalism and its nimby enablers and the clergy and its mealy mouthed tolerance.
gotta buy a notebook or pda so as to organize something better.
The beautiful arabesques of the writing of Raymond Roussel, still evident in translation, are most interesting as discipline (contrivance, organisation, code, device), and made all the more alluring by the discovery, in 1989, of a trunk full of manuscripts. I have always been interested in the manufacture of text, and the versionings required. First draft, second draft, the processes of revision… The mechanizations we invent in attempting to get around the ways words are always already prefigured, so as to say the same thing anew.
Writing as a craft is not besmirched by a patent ‘method’. Roussel wrote according to a calculus, as has often been remarked (Ford 2000, Foucault 1963). There are sentences with parentheses inside parentheses that multiply into entire books. Meanings are deferred and referred back to each other, and the first word is both clue and angular destination. Sure, there are cryptograms in Jules Verne – and these fascinated Roussel so much he went to meet that author in 1898 (Ford 2000:17) – but experimental writing was never more elaborate before Roussel, or so it seems from the cache found in the attic in 89.
Unleash the word hoard. Cubist, Dada, Oulipo, Lettriste. Experimental writing, even where obscure, retains a special critical potential; perhaps best outlined in English by Burroughs as a work against control. The word cut-ups were something he considered a useful way to expose control orders. Burroughs as political oracle may seem reckless – an extravagant, untamed, rampant, enthusiasm – and a writing greedy for meaning (thanks Tinzar) – but isn’t this just what might sidestep control?
The orders of language certainly have us in a tight squeeze – grammar, spelling, typography, layout, html, the aesthetic use of empty space (black here, white there). What do we need to do so as to sidestep this pious complex? Nietzsche proud as punch to write such good books? Ginsberg running hysterical naked in the negro streets at dawn [Moloch still being dragged to heaven]? Kathy Acker attacks on high school and on Don Quixote? Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave harmonic mumbling even? Amidst the welter of words there is precious little time to stop and consider our faith – an experimental church, with a god-botherin clergy raging at our misdemeanours, and demanding sacrifice on altars. With Roussel as the fallen high priest become demonic victim, and hero.
Ford, Mark 2000 Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams, London: Faber and Faber
Foucault 1963/1989 Death and the Labyrinth, Editions Surkamp
The pics are of a Japanese Communist Party rally in Tokyo. Pink t-shirts! Talked with the comrades about war, and housing. Still translating their policy document.
Once more in Shimokitazawa, where there is a small 5th floor club called Heaven & Earth, and where, after dancing sweaty hot electro and hip hop all night (and gospel for Charlie K), you can sit on the balcony as the typhoon rolls in over Tokyo and then you can get noddles on the way home with the salary men on their way to work. Its my favourite hedoistic hideaway adn always a lot lot lot of fun. Feel lucky to land there (another planet).
But it was not all play – I did at least do a little bit of a presentation for Tech/Animation (and sang) before the all night mad dancing come split level mutli-sited chaos-relief from the rigours of the TCS conference and reception (after Kittler’s talk) and much jet lag come self-induced sleeplessness took over. Walking home an epiphany about the styles of writing, and pleasure at meeting new comrades, getting gift books (“Culture on Drugs” looks good [Dave Boothroyd, MUP 2006] – and I was only just before taking notes on Freud’s guilt about the fate of Max von Flieschl-Marxow…).
Hence the rather subdued interventions at the conference today, but probably that’s probably good thing eh. Probably it was raucous enough as it was, this ubiquitous media routine. Jeremy Gilbert on Steigler tomorrow, in the presence of the man hisself, should be better.
Many thanks to Toshiya for organising (pic 1) and to the enthusiasts who turned up for the second year in a row (i am overwhelmed – pic 2) and to Midnight Snacks (here somewhat obscured, except for t-shirt slogan, in pic number 3).
And it was a fine thing that there were a good number of Goldsmiths CCS and associates in the crowd, and various other digniied (and as the night wore on elegantly un-dignified) peoples, and lots of very fine sounds, people willing to talk endlessly about interesting projects (Tokyo pirate radio post soon; anmation special; and perhaps reviews of Ian Condry and Dave B’s books – though probably just shout outs as they look quite good and don’t need to be trashed by me: “shortcircuiting the exasperating detourof communication” [Boothroyd 2006:47]). On the whole a fun nght had by all. But as a consequence, I’m skipping tonight’s visit with SL to La Jetee’ cafe-bar (sumimasen Chris Marker).
Some of this may seem a tad cryptic. When the jet lag subsides I may turn this diary entry into more proper commentary.