Secret weapons sales (not so secret) and fancy dress panto season – really beyond the pale (white supremacy evil tricksters all). Justification here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/09760911221086355
I wrote my first book as a critique of charity work in Kolkata, India. I attempted a critique of western ‘charity’ workers helping those they saw as the ‘unfortunates’ in classic development colonial style – of the many ‘volunteers’ in Kolkata at the time, the majority worked for Mother Theresa but the ones I hung out with were at a clinic run by a long time medico Jack Praeger. Mostly I was attracted to this lot because they were not as pious as those who came for Missionary work, they drank and drugged their way around the banana pancake trail (backpacker tourism circuit) and ended up in Kolkata as a kind of default. Yet, it was an international charity, and about 95%, of them were from outside India, though with a few Indian doctors doing part time work. The organisation did help people, mostly street dwellers with injuries or leprosy sufferers who were not treated by hospitals because of poverty and stigma, and the limited capacity of the medical system in communist but undeveloped Bengal (undeveloped because the pro-capitalist national govt moved industry away from the then communist state). Ideally, the state would provide all social care, including organising social service programmes (that I would distinguish from charity). Westerners took pictures of themselves doing this charity work, and sent them home as postcards and so on, and increasingly the international support came and funded more westerners to come and do ‘the work’ of volunteering (it had become a stop on the tourist trail, even mentioned in travel guides). But this work was still what the state should do and increasingly it became clear that street people were in a way just a photogenic backdrop for the westerners self-promotion. Here, media imagery, including films, sold the exotic image of the poor of Kolkata to the West. Even feature films were made – for example City of Joy with Patrick Swayze – and endless documentaries about the anti-contraception, love them till it hurts, ‘wizened old saint’ Mother Theresa, who got high profile donations from famous westerners who made a show of being photographed with the poor of Kolkata. Ma T, as Christopher Hitchens put it, was interested in helping the poor die as Christians (in a majority Hindu state) while people like Ronald Reagan, and the Savings and Loans scandal millionaire who shall not be named, had their photos taken with the poor and promoted their ‘good deeds’. So, the issue of representation was huge, but even more, the reasons why these people did ‘charity’ work had to be discussed – in a larger frame, pictures of their giving was more of a gift for themselves, self-promotion of their goodness. Gift and counter-gift – cf Mauss, The Gift; Derrida, Given Time etc. They could just as easily have donated to the medical facilities of Bengal, or quietly worked for industrial contracts to promote the economy and medical facilities, hospital development and inclusive policies, but no, the communist state was not their cup of char. I would think we need a very strict distinction to be made between charity and social service work. I think the issue of representation of children and the poor is always political, that exoticism and exploitation in imagery is real, and that integrating support for the blind, the poor, children etc must be organised through structures like local govt, community and institutions etc. What is most questionable here is what happens when ‘foreigners’ take over and think they can ‘help’ but really they are promoting their own self-image and unexamined values. Only some of this will be relevant now, for sure, but I wanted to rethink my experience and confirm the need to not call everything charity – better organised forms social service work (red summer) seem radically different to what international charity often becomes. And yes, in media studies, the issue of how we represent ourselves and ‘the poor’ (photogenic poverty) is without doubt still a significant concern.
Oct 22 1965 Sydney arrests
The report on this 1965 anti-war protest is marginally better than most current press release churnalism, of course it favours the Police and the future PM McMahon (who eventually presides over troop withdrawal), but its easy enough to read between the lines and see this was the start. So, a welcome find. At this time a Gallop Survey showed more than 50% of Australians supported the Menzies Govt’s decision to send troops to Vietnam (in April 1965 – before that only military advisors [and probably special ops had been there – see ‘The Sullivans’]). The first anti-War teach-ins were held in July that year.
“60 arrested in Vietnam war protest (Canberra Times, 22 October 1965)
SYDNEY, Friday. — About 60 people were arrested tonight during a demonstration against the Vietnam war in which more than 400 people threw Sydney’s peak hour traffic into chaos with a sit-down across Pitt and King Streets.
At one stage, some people feared that the demonstration would develop into a riot. Scores of uniformed and special police were rushed to the area at the height of the demonstration. Police cordoned off one-way streets as 15 radio cars and five police vans surrounded the demonstrators. Earlier, police and demonstrators ex-changed blows in the streets while others were dragged to police vehicles. Some people, caught in the melee, rushed at demonstrators and wrenched their banners from them, tearing them to shreds. The New South Wales Police Commissioner, Mr Allan, called for an immediate report on the incident. It probably will be ready for him late tomorrow. Police said late tonight that most of those arrested had been released on bail. They would appear in Central Court on Monday.
Peak hour traffic. The few who had not been bailed out would spend the night in police cells at Central, Darlinghurst and Regent Street police stations and would appear in court tomorrow. The demonstration began about 5pm as hundreds of workers left their offices. Many had trouble getting through the placard-waving, chanting crowd, and some were still caught there as police reinforcements arrived. The Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr McMahon, was leaving the Commonwealth Bank Building on Martin Place, where parliamentary offices are located, as the demonstration began. The demonstration began peacefully, but soon home-going city traffic was banked up to Circular Quay in the north and the Central Railway Station in the southern end of the main city area. Demonstrators paraded along the footpaths. They carried posters, on which were written anti-American slogans, and photographs of Vietnamese civilian casualties. They marched into Pitt Street during the peak hour and were blocked by police. … Some demonstrators sat and lay across the roadways. They still held aloft their banners, and chanted slogans protesting the Vietnam war. Fights broke out, and extra police moved in. Many people were arrested by police and loaded into vans. They were taken to Central, Darlinghurst and Regent Street stations. Mr McMahon was reported to have spoken to a demonstrator who carried a banner which read: “How can the Vietnamese be aggressive in their own country?” There was a brief exchange and Mr McMahon appeared to offer to shake hands. The demonstrator walked away. Scores of leaflets were handed out by those taking part in the protest, but most were thrown away. After the area had been cleared the leaflets littered the ground. Demonstrators included members of the Waterside Workers’ Federation, the Communist Party, the ALP youth body, women’s organisations including the “Save Our Sons” Movement and university students. Militant members of trade unions, including some officials, were reported to be among those who chanted, “One, two, three, four, We don’t want war . . . Five, six, seven, eight, End the war, negotiate.” Some chanted, “American casualties, one in 20, Australian casualties, one in 10.”
Militant action. Most placards were directed against American policy in Vietnam, although some attacked the Australian Government’s policy on conscription. A spokesman for the demonstrators said tonight that the demonstration was the forerunner of more militant action by the group. Until now they had been prepared to hold peaceful demonstrations in the Sydney Domain and other areas, but in future similar demonstrations were likely, he said. While demonstrators paraded, about a dozen sup- porters of the Australian- Vietnamese policy waved American and Australian flags as a counter protest.”
Fighting the lurgie seemed the right time to read Tim Page’s book on train trips in Vietnam 20 years after his war photo stint – the Dennis Hopper character in the Coppola film “Apocalypse Now” was based on him – at the Directors Cut Premier I had a freebie ticket* and sat with Tim and his assistant, who woke him up for ‘his’ scenes. Page died in August this year. The book is a travelogue by someone who knew their way around and/or was really just out and about to have a look for himself. There’s a link to a Tiếng Việt article here and one to an article by Sarah McLean who, until it closed approx 2010, ran the Indochina memorial media foundation Page helped set up here.
* I’d got in late I think as a wait list ‘return’ ticket, which I now imagine might have been his ‘plus one’ that he was not bothered to fill as its, frankly, a shoddy film whose only redeeming feature is that it exposes the insanity of US revisionist film history, and he’d have known that before I had.
Global South Asia on Screen
Did I mention the yellow cover version out with Aakar books in India?
of course the red cover one is still also in Vilayeti: https://www.waterstones.com/author/john-hutnyk/485336
Global South Asia on Screen
The full wraparound cover:
A scrap from a 1996 notebook, it was sent to the aut-op-sy listserve:
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels formulated a paragraph that can be read in many contexts, but deserves certain emphasis here immensely facilitated means of communications:
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all the instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communications, draws all, even the most barbarian nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of its commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In a word, it creates a world after its own image (Marx and Engels 1847/1952: 47)
Interestingly, the ‘immensely facilitated’ means of communications of the English translation might also be rendered with a stronger affirmation when translated as ‘infinite release’ – the ‘unendlich erleichterten’ (Marx and Engels 1847/1970: 47) suggests also the release of a never-ending opening of communications that already anticipates the continually developing communications environment character of the information order today 
Assange and how truth does not set you free
On thursday 9th Dec 2021 the first 15 minutes of my lecture on Media outlined the reasons why the extradition of Julian Assange should be opposed and he should not have been locked up in 2017. Today. 10th December, the news comes that the British Court has caved to US pressure and ruled he can be extradited, though he can appeal – it drags on and on.
The rest of the lecture is about Police Killings – the film Injustice by Ken Fero and Tariq Mehmood and then the Working Day and factory inspections. The course is Mass Media and all the lectures can be seen here.
And here is a recent comment, and the crucial linked video, from just one of those who can see (I do not know who this is, but they seem correct to me – he was ShadyChancer in the Corbyn group and was dismissed by Sir Kareer Starwarmer):
Richard Burgon MP
4ftt611S24pfanlaume1ui78 · X “Julian Assange is being targeted for exposing US war crimes – in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.Extradition to the US is not only an attempt to silence him – but to stop all journalists from speaking truth to power.We must continue to oppose his extradition to the US. This shocking video from Iraq, revealed by WikiLeaks, shows the killing of civilians and Reuters journalists. It’s just one example of the journalism that has led to the USA demanding the extradition of Julian Assange”.
Pantomime Terror and Global South Asia on Screen
Cheap paperback stocking stuffers… – though I wonder if 1 left in stock contradicts that whole value-scarcity thing. Pretty sure there is more than one.
30 Minute Methods in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, TDTU.
The most useful thing I heard anyone say (it was Olivia Harris) about a methods course is that it should never be a discussion of how to, but rather a debate about what and why. Methods in this sense is something we wrangle with – a philosophical, contemplative, political, convivial, agitator-practitioner, collective, considerate set of choices of how to talk with people. If methods were simply to be applied, the study will be too rigid for the varieties and surprises of social life.
In these three “30 Minute Methods” discussions, the sense of debate comes through in short significant sensibilities concerned with process and outcome in a moving, meaningful world. The social sciences, and media anthropology in particular, need to look outside media and anthropology for methodological inspiration, and to be thereby inspired to risk something on method. These talks given to the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at Ton Duc Thang University in November 2021 do just that:
16 November 2021. Prof Paolo Favero, University of Antwerp, Belgium:
‘Expanded Ethnography: technologies and the senses’
23 November 2021. Dr Ken Fero, Regents University, London:
‘Documentary as memory when dealing with national trauma through state violence‘
November 30 2021. Dr Jack Boulton, Leuven University, Belgium: ‘
TV, film and literature sci-fi as part of the new literary turn in anthropology’
Thanks to all involved.
visit https://issh2021.tdtu.edu.vn/ for details.
Register here: https://issh2021.tdtu.edu.vn/conference-fees
Though the music from the film Sholay won’t be part of this week’s lecture on music and allegory (Adorno and Jazz), it probably should be. If you watched the film around mid term (as advised), you might now be interested in this pretty comprehensive Sholay wiki
30 Minute Methods – TDTU, Vietnam – Professor Paolo Favero
Prof Paolo Favero, Uni Antwerp, Belgium:
‘Expanded Ethnography: technologies and the senses’
and coming up next: at TDTU:
2. Tues November 23, 2021, at 4pm HCMC.
Dr Ken Fero, Regents University, London:
‘Documentary as memory when dealing with national trauma through state violence‘
3. Tues November 30, 2021, at 4pm HCMC.
Dr Jack Boulton, Leuven Uni, Belgium:
‘TV, film and literature sci-fi as part of the new literary turn in anthropology’
Seminars via Zoom (email Johnhutnyk@tdtu.edu.vn for the link) all held at 4pm Ho Chi Minh City time – that’s 2.30pm in Kolkata, 9pm in Melbourne, 10am in Western Europe, 9am on Airstrip one, 4am in NYC (sozz).
Double Injustice: Media Racism
Back in 2003 Imogen Bunting, whose birthday it would have been today, wrote this on the film INJUSTICE by Tariq and Ken. To date the film still has not been shown on UK television, despite all the awards and media acclaim and THE RELEVANCE OF IT STILL TODAY.
Originally posted 2006
This piece was written by Imogen for a possible book on the film Injustice. We approached 19 publishers for the book, but while screenings do occur now, because the film was banned/threatened for so long by the court injunctions of the Police Federation, no publisher seemed able to risk a publication. As you can see from below, the failure of the publishers (some respected left wing houses) was not because of the quality of the writing – here as ever Imogen was on the case.
Reporting black deaths in the British press: Injustice and the right to reply.
‘Black deaths do not have a good press, especially when they occur in the custody of our custodians…the media leads the public to believe that our guardians can do no wrong. Racism leads them to believe that blacks can do no right. The silence of the custodial system is compounded by the silences of racism’ (Sivanandan).
It is from within these silences that Injustice speaks. As Sivanadan’s resolute remark suggests, the film was, in part, a necessary response to the media’s selective and often dubiously scarce reportage. Why is it that the one thousand deaths in custody that have occurred since 1969 can largely have slipped through the pages of our national press whilst at the same time the deaths of Stephen Lawrence, Victoria Climbe and Damilola Taylor have, for instance, frequently made the front covers of both broadsheets and tabloids? When the key suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence were charged with committing a racist attack on an off duty black police officer the Daily Mirror’s front page announced ‘GOTCHA! Two down, three to go, as justice finally catches up with racist Lawrence thugs’. And yet, in the post-Macpherson world it is all too easy perhaps to be seduced by such jubilance. After all, justice for the death of Stephen Lawrence never did catch up with his killers. The justice just delivered was for a racial attack on a police officer. And, if we are to be cynical, it mostly provided a perfect space for the press to celebrate an apparently reformed Metropolitan police.
The same week however, on page eight of the Guardian we are told that when Christopher Alder died face down in a police station in Hull in 1998, he was surrounded by police making monkey noises. In a letter to his sister, the CPS reported that ‘it is not possible to infer that there was a racist motivation here’. This, less impressive judicial decision is far from the front page – ‘black deaths do not have a good press’. Injustice was a way of exposing the long and continuing history of (black) deaths in custody where a politically correct rather than a politically [engaged?] press had not been adequate. Exploring the press’ handling of the cases featured in the Injustice provides a way of understanding the sticky politics of reporting deaths in custody and may open up a space in which to re-view the cases.
Whilst it is probably a truism for those involved in the campaigns for justice of people who have died in police custody, it is worth noting at the outset a point all too often forgotten when Britain celebrates the freedom of its press and the quality of its news, that is:
‘The media do not simply and transparently report events which are ‘naturally’ newsworthy in themselves. ‘News’ is the end product of a complex process which begins with a systematic sorting of events and topics according to a socially constructed set of categories’ (Hall et al 1978:53).
Deaths in custody are reported within a wider media context of black deaths, which more often than not, are associated with crime, gangs and drugs. The furore over guns from the ghettos at the concerts of the So Solid Crew was synchronous with the trial of the killers of schoolboy Damilola Taylor. And, whilst providing stark contrast to one another, together portrayed a kind of black underworld where, as the Guardian noted, ‘Gun crime in London is at an all-time high, and black violence against black people of particular concern, with 21 deaths last year’. A few months later, rising crime rates were the front cover of all the national press, and the shadow home secretary announced that ‘everyone on the estates in our inner cities knows…it is gangs and drug dealers rather than the forces of law and order that are in charge’ (Guardian 12/7/2002).
When gangs and drug dealers have been repeatedly inferred as being black, the violence of the police force towards to black people, or the disproportionate figures of black deaths in custody can be seen not as racism but rather as the inevitable result of black criminality. This might be one of the ‘socially constructed set of categories’ within which black deaths in police custody are reported, or not. And what it effectively creates is the idea that the force of the police is ‘reasonable’. However, when the controversial stop and search laws make it five times more likely to be stopped if you are black, then already there is a disproportionate chance that in being stopped, the police feel that a certain degree of force is reasonable. Indeed race and crime are so closely associated by the media that the Guardian chose to quote the Voice editor calling for more stop and search in the face of rising street crime and gun related offences,
‘Most people would prefer not to be stopped and searched, but increasing crime is warranting that and the majority of people who have nothing to hide won’t mind very much’ (Guardian 5/3/2002).
So, Mike Best, portrayed as a spokesperson for black people, has reiterated the most cunning of media tricks, creating the functional equivalent of the deserving and undeserving poor. The emphasis is shifted from the fact that stop and search, undertaken by a self confessed ‘institutionally racist’ police force is a dubious and dangerous tactic. And again, it obfuscates the fact that people stopped and searched, such as Brian Douglas, or arrested on suspicion of robbery such as Wayne Douglas, are dead. It is not even that the people who ‘have nothing to hide’ always get off lightly. Moreover, following the theme of the deserving and undeserving, a great deal of post-Macpherson media spin has played on the idea that the police are now too afraid of being accused of being racist that they won’t stop black people. The delight with which the nation mimicked Ali G’s ‘Is it cos I is black?’ was a serious indicator of how little the term ‘institutionally racist’ had been taken seriously and, like Mike Best, black M.P Paul Boateng was showcased demanding that:
‘The power [of stop and search] cannot be removed – it is a vital tool in the armoury of the police. We must never lose sight in our response to the Lawrence report what brought it about – a gang of thugs on the street obsessed by knives. The police must have the power to stop and search for knives’ (Observer 28/2/1999).
In fact this ‘gang of thugs’ were a white racist fraternity and yet stop and search renders black people five times more likely to be stopped. Indeed this kind of neutralisation of the police in the press is common. A crucial aspect of deaths in custody is that, by their very nature they might provoke terror and anger in the public eye as we are forced to ask who can protect us from those who are there to protect us? And yet, deaths in custody have repeatedly been portrayed as almost an inevitability, or the just deserves of a minority of people on the wrong side of the law. An example might be a report of the death of Shiji Lapite that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph which ran:
‘Mr Lapite was arrested outside a nightclub in Stoke Newington, north-east London. During a struggle he was pinned down and his larynx partially crushed. He died of asphyxia and cocaine intoxication.’
In the same way, the Times made sure to note that Brian Douglas was, at the time of his arrest, thought to be ‘under the influence of either drugs or drink’. Whilst the Sunday Telegraph described how, when Joy Gardner’s mouth was gagged with 13 feet of surgical tape, the police had arrived at her home,
‘with an arrest warrant, restraining equipment…and the information that she tried to evade deportation before and had a record of violence’.
This is perhaps the most telling account in that it shows how a criminalised history or an inference of involvement with drugs is a resource that can be used by the police in the same way as an arrest warrant might be. Similarly, both Joy Gardner and Shiji Lapite were described first and foremost as asylum seekers. Read within the context of a media who infamously echoed Enoch Powell’s speech of Britain being ‘flooded’ by immigrants, it is easy to see how these deaths might have been construed.
A demand for information, accountability, and justice that might arise through reporting a death in custody is augmented by an inference of criminality. In these instances, police action no longer, it seems, is under such scrutiny. Middle England, reading the paper over their breakfast can rest assured that it won’t be them on the floor of Stoke Newington police station. Whilst, bombarded with spectacular reports of rising crime, drugs and guns, the police must be justified in their actions.
Looking at the press reports of all of the cases featured in the film exposes a pattern in the press’ handling of both deaths in police custody, and the relationship between black people and (usually violent) crime. When these issues converge, deaths in custody, rather than being an outrageous – and in this sense – morbidly newsworthy issue, become part of publicising the police in favour of ‘mentally unstable’ (Press release from Stoke Newington police the night of Colin Roach’s death in the foyer of the police station) ‘immensely strong’ (Daily Telegraph quoting P.C Wright’s description of Ibrahim Sey 26/1/1996) ‘violent’ (Sunday Telegraph quoting P.C Brian Adam’s description of Joy Gardner 30/11/1997) victims. Such dramatic adjectives are an example of how
‘media forms produce the urban (ghetto) as lawless, anarchic and violent…[and] from pop videos, Hollywood cinema, American police series and surveillance videos, the black male body has been an object of scrutiny’(Sharma and Sharma 2000:109).
Victims who have died in custody are somehow posed as Goliaths to the Metropolitan’s Davids whose political and technological strength is creatively overlooked. The figure of the big, black dangerous criminal becomes mythical and the police can be posed as heroes, risking their own safety to keep the streets safe.
An example of this use, by the police, of the media might be found in a report such as that in the Daily Telgraph whose headline was ‘Met officers to be given body armour and C.S gas’. Here, the death of Brian Douglas, following his arrest is noted within the context of police deaths. The article reads:
‘all members of the metropolitan police are to be issued with body armour in the wake of gun attacks that have left seven officers dead in the past five years’.
The implosion of Brian’s death with the death of police officers seems to suggest three key themes. Firstly that death is inevitable within police work. Secondly, that the death of a police officer on duty might be equivalent to the death of a citizen who is, for any reason, stopped by the police. And, thirdly, that the death of an officer is enough to warrant the introduction of more repressive measures [technologies?]. It is the press who have juxtaposed the stories of Brian Douglas death and the police death and, in doing so, have occluded the seriousness of both the frequency and similarity in the death in custody cases. The 1000 deaths since 1969 are not of course, juxtaposed with the 7 police deaths in 5 years, a statistic that might put the police death rate into some kind of perspective.
Breaking up the continuity of black deaths in police custody through intermittent reporting distracts the public from the chilling similarities in the cases. Beyond that however, for those families, friends and allies involved in campaigning for justice, the press’ spectacularisation of particular cases is extremely damaging. It sets up a dis-jointed politics where alliance must be traded for sympathy. Whilst the Guardian headline of a report into the death of Roger Sylvester was ‘Another death in custody, another family mourns’ (24/1/1999), what the article actually stressed was to not see the death as another of the same. Yet again, another family mourns, and yet ‘they are wary…of Roger Sylvester’s death becoming another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case’. The fact is that in many respects, the death is already another Stephen Lawrence or Michael Menson case. The depoliticising of yet ‘another death in custody’ happens through the emotiveness of a family, in obvious disbelief, who, it was reported, in response to questions over a demonstration held outside the High Court said, ‘it had nothing to do with us’.
Along similar divisive lines, a large part of a BBC Newsnight report after the death of Michael Menson in Stoke Newington police station in 1983 was given over to P.C Paul Pacey, who demanded that:
‘you go out and talk to those people on the streets, just in the normal course of your duty and they’ll…talk to you about the police and about what happens to you back at Stoke Newington station…and they’ll say, “things happen to you back there” and you’ll say “well what?”, “well, I’ve heard stories…”, “Well, who off?”, “Well, people”, “ Has it happened to you?” “Well, no…” And its very hard to find. In fact I can’t find these people its happening to’.
Death in custody becomes the urban myth of a paranoid black community rather than a serious and discrediting narrative in the history of Stoke Newington police station. Injustice found the families and friends of ‘these people its happening to’ and in calibrating the deaths that have occurred over the last thirty years fill in the gaps left by the media.
These gaps are, it seems, so easily maintained because the usual model of reporting is impossible. When death occurs in the ‘custody of our custodians’ what ‘actually happened’ is only known by the police involved. The ‘news’ of a death in custody is framed by information given by a whole brigade of officials from the police, to the police coroners, to the Crown Prosecution Service, to the Police Complaints Authority into the nature of the death. Stuart Hall (et al) has noted that,
‘what is most striking about crime news is that it very rarely involves a first-hand account of the crime itself…Crime stories are almost wholly produced from the definitions and perspectives of the institutional primary definers’ (1978:68).
Within this are assumptions about the relationship between race and crime, crime and violence and violence and state-protection. So, from a pre-established context, it is really only the police who have a voice on a particular case. This process may be highlighted by the extent to which the press uses direct quotes from the police officers involved in the deaths. Cloaked in the officialdom of their speaking position, deeply subjective descriptions are used:
‘P.C Wright : “He [Shiji Lapite] was immensely strong. I was in fear for my life and P.C Macullum’s life”…P.C Wright believed the suspect’s “tremendous strength” might have been the effect of crack cocaine’ (Daily Telegraph 26/1/1996).
‘“She [Joy Gardner] was the most violent woman I have ever encountered”, said P.C Brian Adam’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997).
There is no space for counter comment – for an opposing claim. Both the ‘facts’ of the death and opinion or comment are given by the state. Disentangling this tightly woven knot of (mis) information becomes the private struggle of each family rather than a public and publicised campaign. The silencing of Injustice is another thread in this cloth, where each time a screening was due to take place, the cinema was threatened by the Metropolitan police lawyers. In privileging the voice of the state over and above the voice of those harmed by the state, the media reaffirms the position of an institutionally racist police.
‘we are now at the very heart of the inter-relationships between the control culture and the ‘signification culture’…In this moment, the media – albeit unwittingly, and through their own ‘autonomous’ routes – have become effectively an apparatus of the control process itself – an ‘ideological state apparatus’(Hall et al 1978:76).
Indeed there is a curious levelling mechanism that needs to go on with cases of death in custody. The Metropolitan police, especially after the Stephen Lawrence case, has worked incredibly hard on its image. It is almost as if the sympathy of the press is needed in direct proportion with the violence of the police. As Cohen has noted,
‘The more resources allocated to increasing the efficiency of repressive policing, the more manpower has to be poured [in]…to restabilize the public image of the force’ (quoted in Jefferson 1991:171).
A thousand deaths in police custody since 1969 is not a statistic that might enhance the image of the police. The double movement of repression and promotion is mediated by the press who, for example, in reporting the death of Joy Gardner at the hands of police and immigration officers explain how ‘sticky tape was wrapped around her head to stop her biting more officers’ (Sunday Telegraph 30/11/1997). The police restraining technologies are laconically justified despite the fact that they were fatal for Joy Gardner. The press have maintained the police framing of the event to such an extent that the possibility of alternative opinions, transgressive questions and redressive actions are edited out. ‘In this lost world of politics without conflict, division or debate, the spin doctors are always right’ (Gilroy 1999:12) and the only sniff of disagreement reported surrounds the suitability of particular technologies in particular cases. The fundamental questions of race, class and institutionalised violence are obscured by the histrionics of endless police reviews.
Relying on a benevolent media however, also has its dangers and limitations, precluding the politics and economics of why there are deaths in custody and of why black people are five times more likely to die in custody. A sympathetic press may have its own agenda within the status quo. In a global and historical level, the story of Stephen Biko, the anti-apartheid activist killed in police custody in South Africa in 1977 is best known perhaps by the film Cry Freedom, which, instead of telling the story of Biko, actually tells the story of Donald Woods, a sympathetic white journalist who tried to expose the killing of Biko in police custody. We can see that the story becomes one of a sympathetic white media rather than of the political economy of black death within the apartheid regime. The connections between the media as an apparatus of the state are eroded in portraying a laudable exception to the rule. Similarly, the problem of the media’s treatment of death in custody can not possibly be solved by having more black journalists, just as the police won’t stop being racist if there are more black officers. As Hall has pointed out,
‘The media do not only possess a near monopoly over ‘social knowledge’, as the primary source of information about what is happening; they also command the passage between those who are ‘in the know’ and the structured ignorance of the general public’ (1978:64).
Alternative media such as Injustice, made in collaboration with the families of those killed and screened in cinemas, social centres, political meetings and festivals reconstitute the desiccated narratives of deaths in custody. Marxists are not imagining things when they note that the ideological state apparatus of the mainstream media will always voice the opinions of the ruling classes. Hoping for a sympathetic report is, it seems, both naïve and insubstantial. However, it is crucial that the press are interrogated, challenged and disturbed by other voices, voices normally excluded from the debates. For deaths in police custody, the problem will always be that the victim is criminalized, and, ‘the criminal by his actions, is assumed to have forfeited, along with other citizenship rights, his ‘right of reply’ (Hall 1978:69). Restoring this right of reply has been, in a sense the project of Injustice. As it traces the struggles of the families of those who died, it recreates the space of comment – it re-collects the testimonies, it redefines the parameters of the debate.
The times are those of distraction. Intensive scrutiny of slights and perceived hurts, while the libidinously ironic engage in rampant expressive display of mildly unacceptable comic-cum-outrageous transgressive provocation. At the same time substantial, world destroying, crimes of armaments, pollution, resource obsession, privatised prisons and obscene wealth carry on regardless.
While we should no doubt be interested in efforts to extend a ‘theoretical framework for how appropriations contribute to both the construction and reception of visual icons and how personification constitutes the main link between icons and their appropriations’ (Mortensen 2017: 1143) maybe we want to stress context as key to what is called personification. The personification is, we might contend, of a moment, a period, a, tragically, zeitgeist, that would identify as emergent, even established, cynicism on the run. Never wants to be tied down, and never thinks of its own identification as such, but fascism might be another name for it. Sure, we can recognise the difficulties of this as context – it looks back too far and the danger of any interest in Adorno is that some people think a postcolonial Adorno is not plausible. The contexts of appropriations that took place then, already dated in WW2, are also now, and the now is a time when the critical power of irony has been stolen. The memes and edgelord culture of the far-right thrives on a cynicism that is hardly worth the name, it is ironically cynical and all the worse. There is no telling some people. Yet, conversely, on the other side, an eroded ‘left’ politics is often where irony and perspective have been eviscerated by an unexamined warrior earnestness, exaggerated and solemn intensity, unable to recognise self-inflicted, humourless, damage and futility. The ancient idea of humour being about having a laugh has long, long gone, if from Freud and others, as we note, it never was without power plays. For the caustic circulation of name-calling and regimented thinking that refuses to laugh, even sometimes inappropriately, is what Adorno had already diagnosed as a taboo. An injunction that ‘nothing should be moist’ (Adorno), and even if this has still has not taken hold absolutely everywhere, sometimes even the moisture just tastes like what Michel Leiris called a ‘sexual lozenge’ (Leiris), an approved limit to desire imposed with a sales pitch effectively keeps us quiet, keeps us from getting at them with a bat as the bombing continues.
Centrifugal Citation Conformity Machine
I was recently in an information briefing (which was very useful) about Web of Science and citations/searches. Here are some thoughts on how the system at present breeds conformity. Or at least, this is what I said, pretty much. very slightly odified to remove some names:
On Metrics as Tools
My concern – something I have discussed with a few others – is how there are some serious gaps in the Web of Science coverage for some areas of the social sciences and humanities. I wonder if you are interested in this discussion as well. I think there are a few important things to consider, or if they have been considered, make the thinking clear as to how they have been handled.
I work (and think) in a variety of different ways that sometimes seem to me to be specifically designed to fall between the cracks of the indexes. This started with noting that the journals I really admire, were not making it from ESCI to SSCI, or rather, some were even choosing not to. I don’t think I should say which ones, but a few I have had some reviewing or editorial exchange with have said they are pulling out of the indexing ‘game’ as metrics was both too blunt and too normative. There are also a few things, discussed especially, that were not being indexed. Smaller magazines for example, museum catalogues and artist books, visual research (I had taught ethnographic film for many years) and political pamphlets are falling by the way in the face of a normative centrifugal force.
The blunt version of the argument here is that the new Incites tools do not ‘incite’ enough – but rather encourage heading in the same direction that everyone else is heading in – collaborate with those who are most likely to collaborate with you, cite those who cite you, read those who read you etc. Sure, that perhaps has its merits in terms of group cohesion, but academic work should surely be, at one level at least, not about that at all. It is disagreement and difference we should seek, not everyone heading towards the same spiral of universal chanting “ISI ISI” as if a group of characters from a Thomas Pynchon novel had spring off the page in full riot gear. Doesn’t the tendency to seek out the most popular make it harder for new and novel ideas to get a hearing? At what point do the top citations, top metrics, top index procedures need to be disrupted by ideas might not even be recognised by ‘metrics’? Ideas that disrupt the play of uniformity, conformity, safety and repetition? Obviously, I am setting this out starkly to make the point clear, but I think there is a fundamental problem when we have 50 million papers that are there because, as you said, ‘we want to make the world a better place’ but some could argue that the world is demonstrably becoming less better, or at least a significant set of indicators would suggest that. maybe the 50 million need to not refer more and more to the centre, but seek more and more the alternative, angular, oblique and even opposite/oppositional ideas. Ahh, we are communist after all (though in communism there is also a tendency to centralisation, of course – as I said, overstating to make the point).
What mechanisms can be demonstrated within your presentation, or within the tools, that cater for the need to engage in a ‘ruthless criticism of everything’ as old beardo would have us do. The old man with a beard also saw himself as on the road to science, but that it was no easy path, there was work to be done. What could be entered into the search algorithms to ensure the critiques of normative and even hegemonic ideas in each area are challenged? What mechanisms in the search can be dysfunctional for the ongoing business model that is, frankly, no longer really fit for purpose in a degraded and entropic world…
I would love (ironic and hysterical laughter – cackle cackle hee hee hee) to see some explicit attention to how critical disruptive thinking could be built in as potions for the indexing process. I know indexing cannot be neutral, but can the biases run the other way sometimes? can you say how these questions might be addressed? And what great possibilities would be there if 100 flowers contended with 100 schools of thought in bloom…
Just to confirm that referentiality takes all kinds, my most often cited ISI works (ISI articles cited by ISI journals) show interesting trends. (All available on the download texts link in the sidebar).
Published:Jan 2005 in ETHNIC AND RACIAL STUDIES DOI: 10.1080/0141987042000280021
Authors: John Hutnyk Published:Jan 1999 in AMERASIA JOURNAL DOI: 10.17953/AMER.25.3.6W854588562P6575
Authors: John Hutnyk; Sanjay Sharma Published:Jun 2016 in THEORY, CULTURE AND SOCIETY DOI: 10.1177/02632760022051211
Authors: John Hutnyk Published:Jun 2016 in THEORY, CULTURE AND SOCIETY DOI: 10.1177/0263276406062700
Global Digital Cultures
Very keen to read this:
Digital media histories are part of a global network, and South Asia is a key nexus in shaping the trajectory of digital media in the twenty-first century. Digital platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and others are deeply embedded in the daily lives of millions of people around the world, shaping how people engage with others as kin, as citizens, and as consumers. Moving away from Anglo-American and strictly national frameworks, the essays in this book explore the intersections of local, national, regional, and global forces that shape contemporary digital culture(s) in regions like South Asia: the rise of digital and mobile media technologies, the ongoing transformation of established media industries, and emergent forms of digital media practice and use that are reconfiguring sociocultural, political, and economic terrains across the Indian subcontinent. From massive state-driven digital identity projects and YouTube censorship to Tinder and dating culture, from Twitter and primetime television to Facebook and political rumors, Global Digital Cultures focuses on enduring concerns of representation, identity, and power while grappling with algorithmic curation and data-driven processes of production, circulation, and consumption.
Rumours! (my emphasis).
and page 208 discussed Afzal Guru:
This book is about storytelling and music video – well, also politics and terror, performance and television.
The book tunes into music in three acts. I have written on these performers before, and so thank them again for the opportunity to return to their stories. The approach is a continuation of a research project and collective political effort that I joined when I first came to Britain in 1994. This iteration rehearses this work for London and in relation to twenty first-century terrors, as well as returning to a long beloved articulation of divergent interpretations of critical theory, especially the work of Theodor Adorno. In the introduction, there is a first rendition of the theme of pantomime, which will resonate throughout, and perhaps perversely, the end of the intro starts in on the end of the video Cookbook DIY, examined more fully in the next chapter. I advance this end because the point of this book is to record how peripheral ‘messages’ are too often ignored. In this sense, the project of ‘pantomime terror’ as distraction will be affirmed. I thank Aki Nawaz and Dave Watts for what is now a long collaboration.
The chapters are:
1. Introduction: London Bus :: Pantomime :: War Diary :: Mediation :: The Orange Jumpsuit :: Alerts.
2. DIY Cookbook: Visiting the Kumars :: A Suicide Rapper :: 1001 Nights :: Cookbook DIY :: Pantomime Video :: The RampArts Interlude (notes from a screening) :: All is War :: Back to the Kumars.
3. Dub at the Movies: Representing La Haine :: Žižek-degree-zero :: Derrida Writes the Way :: The Eiffel Tower :: Ruffians, Rabble, Rogues and Repetition :: Musical Interlude :: Riff-raff :: Reserve Army :: Coda: The Battle of Algiers :: Molotov.
4. Scheherazade‘s Sister, M.I.A.: Cultural Projects :: Storyteller Nights :: M.I.A. :: Born Free :: Sell Out, or Tiocfaidh ár lá :: Witticisms and Wagner :: Despot Culture :: Scheherazade in Guantánamo.
‘Citizen Marx/Kane’ in “Marx at the Movies”, 2014
This chapter addresses the question of how, today, to start reading that rich book that is Marx’s Capital — of which an immense, even monstrous, accumulation of commentary on the Marxist mode of literary production appears to have already shaped its elementary forms. In reading Capital, if anything about beginnings should be considered necessary, it is usual to say it is good to start at the beginning — not always of course, but usually to start with what is immediately at hand. Commentaries, primers, prefaces, intros, first sentences and first chapters start at the beginning and continue on from there. This is itself debated, but my argument is that we can only approach Capital through the already existing commentary, even as we would like to start as if the book were new. And the commentary that exists is not only that which is explicitly marked as such, but also includes all the ideas we have already received about so many things — about Marx, capitalism, communism, exchange, commodities and so much more. A vast accumulation of things filter reading, so it would be naive to simply say that materialism might start with things themselves, even if it makes sense to start with commodities, the objects that are the souvenirs or detritus of our lives.
Capitalist Class Capitalist Mode Moral Testimony Commodity System Film Poster
Innovations… Conference 4-5 October 2019, TDTU, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities
4th and 5th of October 2019.
Ho Chi Minh City, Socialist republic of Vietnam
Welcome to the website for the conference Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities, jointly organised by The University of Trieste, Italy; the Universität Leipzig, Germany; National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan; University of Warwick, UK; College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (CHESS) at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), USA; and Ton Duc Thang University, Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Conference Venue – Ton Duc Thang University
Address: 19 Nguyen Huu Tho Street, Tan Phong Ward, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
Invitation and Call for papers:
For the International Conference 4-5 October 2019 at Ton Duc Thang University, HCMC, Vietnam, we would like to hear from those working on innovative approaches to public engagement in the social sciences and humanities. Methodological, empirical, archival or conceptual-theoretical work is encouraged, especially where a keen interest in application, consequence, practice or outcome is involved. Sometimes this is called impact on the one side, or intervention on the other, but we are nevertheless interested in all inquiries and investigations which advance the emancipatory possibilities of scholarship in a radically changed global context.
Social and cultural practices in both modern life and in the preservation of historical memory, could suitably connect sociology, social work, history, ethno-anthropology (museums, exhibitions, fairs, monuments, collective ceremonies), cultural tourism, eco-preservation policies, and other urgent contemporary social issues. Comparative studies are welcome, but not the only focus. We are especially interested in deep and detailed studies which have wider significance and suggestions for ‘best practice’. After many years of ‘interdisciplinarity’, or at least talk about this, we are interested to see examples where this works well in practice. We can assume all studies are comparative and interdisciplinary in a way, and all certainly have consequences, implications…
We are especially keen to hear from those working in three overlapping areas of engaged activity: these may be people working as anthropologists, historians, museum and preservation/heritage studies; cultural geographers, sociologists and in cultural studies; or on border studies, migrant labor and workplace and institutional inquiries. Our themes will interact within the structure of the conference, but we are keen in particular to go deeply into each area.
With Innovations in Public Engagement we anticipate discussions of the ways scholarship might best go about communicating in public the experience of the past and of human, cultural and environmental diversity, including technological and bio-political innovations and their contemporary reshaping of pasts and presents. Challenges to questions of who produces scholarship and why, for whom and by whom, can apply to past and present uses of knowledge, where the models of research and inquiry are actively reworked in the face of new public demands.
With Historical/contemporary practices and policies we seek to address issues related to contemporary forms of social conflict, including unequal citizenship and new racisms, the rise of right-wing populist movements and infiltration of religious power in secular governmentality, migrant workers as neoliberal slavery, questions of human trafficking and refugees, developmentalism and environmental pollution, crony capitalism and geo-economic zoning politics.
With Innovations of methodology, training and new skills for the future it seems to us crucial that our work respond to rapid reconfigurations of the very possibility and consequences of engaged social sciences and humanities scholarship. Whether the changing context is imposed by governments by industry or by civil society, when we deal with institutional change and competitive and imperative demands, we do need to develop new tools for knowledge(s) and new sensibilities/sensitivities. Education, reform and responsiveness, new skills and objectives, new modes of investigation and teaching in general. An urgent and targeted focus on how scholarship might remain relevant and critical in the face of global trends – funding cuts, social constraints, new demands, new conservatism, and crises of certitude.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be our venue, but it need not necessarily be the context or focus of all papers, nor are comparative, or East-West or ‘post’ or neo-colonial framings always to be foregrounded in the papers. We are interested however in papers that encourage us to think anew about the implications of where we are and about how to re-orient humanities and social sciences scholarship in contexts where rising tensions in East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia call on us to innovate and apply once more.
On acceptance of your paper, we will provide you a letter of acceptance or an invitation letter for your visa application to Vietnam or financial sponsorship from your institution. Therefore, you are encouraged to submit your paper at the earliest time possible.
The conference proceedings and papers will be in English.
- Abstract Submission: By February 28th, 2019
- Notification of Paper Acceptance: Before March 30th, 2019
- Full Paper Submission: By May 30th, 2019
- Registration and Payment by: August 20th, 2019 (early bird discounts apply)
- Conference Dates: October 4th– 5th, 2019
We look forward to receiving your contributions and kindly ask you to disseminate the call to your colleagues who may be interested in participating the conference.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at email@example.com if you need any further information.
Assoc. Prof. Le Thi Mai, Ph.D
Head of Sociology Department
Kiwi, the imaginary ethnographer
this is, you know, pretty great.
Please visit the show on the theme of Imaginary Ethnography in Experimental Music and Sound on the web space of Jeu de Paume: Fourth WorldsAnd don´t miss to check the interactive work Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas by Andrew Pekler commissioned by Jeu de Paume.
Fourth Worlds – Imaginary Ethnography in Experimental Music and SoundCommissioner: Stefanie Kiwi Menrath
While cultural mixing has been a reality of all societies since time immemorial, there also exists a long history of circumscribing cultures as separate and geographically localized entities. Ethnographic field recording functions as part of this history of positioning and differentiating music cultures in the way that it links sounds to localities and positions them within a cultural cartography. In recent decades, a number of artists have countered static notions of culture and ideas of a territorialisation of music and sound with critical strategies of imagination and the imaginary. Through their work they ask: What are the imaginations inherent in the documentary technique of ethnography? How does the modern technology of field recording perpetuate a Eurocentric perspective of culture? Can sonic speculation destabilize cultural essentialisms or stimulate critical counter-memories?
Composer and trumpeter Jon Hassell set the stage with his eponymous 1980 album Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics (reissued in 2014): « I wanted the mental and geographical landscapes to be more indeterminate – not Indonesia, not Africa, not this or that »… « Something that could have existed if things were in an imaginary culture, growing up in an imaginary place with this imaginary music”. In Hassell’s music the notion of “Fourth World” creates an imaginary place for musical and cultural exchange: beyond the utopia of a conflict-free cultural melange or the dystopian clash of cultural forms, it offers to transcend merely additive notions of contact. Hassell’s “Fourth World” draws on the “otherworldly” quality of music as such: not as an extension of the literal, developmental three-world-model, but as an experimental exploration of the spatial and temporal references of music and sound.
Taking Hassell’s notion of Fourth World as a conceptual formation (not as a musical genre), « Fourth Worlds » (note the plural) turns its focus to a series of artistic approaches that navigate the history and present tense of violently colonial, playfully postmodern or brashly contemporary cultural differentiations. « Fourth Worlds » aims to resonate with transcultural sonic thinking that, as in Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic, elucidates the performative and mobilizing dimension of sound and the restless, recombinant qualities of diasporic cultures criss-crossing oceans and resisting monolithic notions of “roots”. In this context, imagination has also been rightly critiqued at length as an instrument of domination and “othering”: imagination plays its part in the spatiotemporal distancing from “other”, “traditional” or “ethnic” cultures – for example in the cartography of former “colonies” and “nation states” and in narratives of the “other”.
Imagination is central not only to this history but also plays a crucial role in contemporary practices of ethnography – be they applied to the field of art or in cultural studies. Strategies of imaginary ethnography think these fields together and methodically reassess imagination. Imaginary ethnography alludes to both the productive capacity of imagination and its reproductive elements: it relates to the “cultural imaginary “ as a negotiation of a vast archive of images and socially shared imaginations about “others”, but it also activates imagination as a creative capacity of making appear a new image of something that neither is nor was.
Taking this as its starting point, « Fourth Worlds » brings together a selection of musical and sound artists and theorists who question the discourse of “otherness” through speculation. Dubious origin myths, mock music archives and phantom atlases, counter-memories and digital diasporic nations as well as islands empathically tied by pacifism, imaginative travel journals, future archaeologies or reconstructions of soon to be lost worlds – the pieces selected for this exhibition project musical and artistic counterstrategies to the ethnographic urge of fixing cultures to places.
Great interview with Jay Murphy on Artaud’s Metamorphosis and more.
Read this super informative interview by clicking on the image below (but be sure to still buy the book as there is much more good stuff there) or here for the pdf = JAY MURPHY with Joseph Nechvatal | The Brooklyn Rail
This phrase was used on the BBC world service a few times yesterday in reference to the ban on laptops and other devices from some airports on some carriers, for reasons to do with airline competition, deflection of other news stories, or plain incoherence. I did not note who said it, but a quick search shows the phrase pop up a few times in the last 6 months, from for example, Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at a security think-tank: the Royal United Services Institute. The phrase has some affinity with pantomime terror, but I am more interested in how opportunist news stories can be used to run cover over less savoury announcements. The famous good day to bury a news story Sept 11 incident from Stephen Byers adviser Jo Moore.
This somehow got me to wondering about other ways news which must be gotten out is nevertheless buried in plain sight. I wondered if there were any dissertations written on The Chilcot Inquiry, because when that report finally came, after 7 years, on 6 July, 2016, it was released just one day before the ten year anniversary of the London 7/7 bombing. Was this an attempt that also benefitted from the plain sight effect of their simply being an avalanche of volumes, too expensive for popular reading, too thick for journalists to summarise, and too dull, making it the greatest unread tome since Quixote, so very uninspiring for public commentary, buried in plain sight without any action on the calls to put Blair in front of a war crimes tribunal.
Critics rating: 4 stars.
New Book by Jay Murphy on Antonin Artaud
This is it – Jay Murphy’s book is out.
Use the pavement site because postage is included…
Artaud’s Metamorphosis: From Hieroglyphs to Bodies without Organs
by Jay Murphy
The first book on the transformation from Artaud’s ‘early’ to ‘late’ work, showing how the ‘final’ Artaud leads straight into our digital present.
£18.99 (inc. free postage)
Artaud’s Metamorphosis: From Hieroglyphs to Bodies without Organs
A great new book from Pavement Books:
by Jay Murphy
£18.99 (inc. postage)
Despite being one of the most influential artists and writers of the mid-20th Century, Antonin Artaud’s voice remains inadequately deciphered. Artaud’s Metamorphosis is the first book on the transformation from his ‘early’ to ‘late’ work, and it shows how the ‘final’ Artaud leads straight into our digital present. This Artaud will alter how you think of media, the virtual, the political, and thought itself.
‘Only after reading Jay Murphy’s beautifully crafted, thought-provoking, scholarly yet light fingered, account did I become aware of the crucial role the benighted Artaud plays in capitalism-and-schizophrenia. Murphy is a most wonderful guide to the madness that is our voyage through reality as a body without organs.’
Michael Taussig, Columbia University
‘Jay Murphy’s book excels as a forensic investigation of the continuing explosion that was Artaud. It collects the traces left by his devastating passage through poetry, art, politics, philosophy, film and theatre and shows how Artaud’s “war unto eternity” pushed him beyonds the limits of the hieroglyph towards the “body without organs”. Lucid without compromising the darkness of Artaud’s suffering, it is essential reading for anyone interested in the madness of the 20th and 21st centuries.’
Howard Caygill, Kingston University
‘There is in Artaud a high velocity veering composed of lucidity and imaginative derangement. To figure out what he is really about is an extraordinary challenge. The most important aspect of Murphy’s contribution is his awareness that Artaud’s bizarre images and propositions carry visionary components relative to virtuality and digitality and may also address new relations of time, space, body and awareness. Such work indicates sophistication in reading Artaud that is far from the American 1960s attitude toward him.’
Clayton Eshleman, Eastern Michigan University
Table of Contents
Introduction: Metabolism and Immortality
I. A PROJECT FOR UNDERSTANDING ARTAUD
The matter of theory: updating ‘cosmos=chaos’
Artaud’s difference: sense and signification
Artaud’s glossolalia: a user’s guide
The yoga of the scream
The ‘figural’ and the language of the body
The revelation of how the ‘hieroglyph’ works in Artaud’s film scenarios
The persistence of myth: Artaud the mystic without mysticism, the shaman without community
II. IN THE LAND OF THE TARAHUMARAS
Artaud on ancient Mayan hieroglyphs: the ‘Space where Life dies’
Explaining ‘occult geometry’: Artaud’s art criticism
The visit to the Tarahumaras
Interpreting the Tarahumara rites
‘Stopping the world’: Artaud’s double, triple worlds
Touching the outside
III. RITUAL ACTS
Maps of the ‘unconscious’
Putting ‘time back on track’
The body is the operator
The conflict of the faculties
The case of Artaud’s ‘Tutuguri’ (1948)
The space of Artaud’s apocalypse
IV. TRANSFORMING RITUAL ACTS
Artaud’s apocalypse as initiation, or ‘complete voyage’
The world of sorcery as ‘permanent liminality’
Artaud and Jesus Christ
The cross and the crossroads, redux
The ‘universal’ cross: enter Guénon
Artaud’s The New Revelations of Being (1937)
The cross as a test of rhythm
V. HIEROGLYPHICS AS PASSAGE
Artaud’s becoming versus being
The fulcrum of the Cross: Artaud’s ‘Gnostic’ delirium
Artaud begins his re-formation: the cross and the sexuality of the ‘true body’
The ‘search for fecality’ in the creation of the new body
The cross is the pivot in this creation of the ‘true body’
The full ‘body without organs’ emerges
VI. THE FRACTURING OF THE VOID
AND THE EXPLODING HIEROGYLPH
The spherical body
Artaud’s 1947-8 notebooks: the combustion of hieroglyphics
The opening to animism: the ‘body without organs’ as mythic autoreference
Artaud on Van Gogh: the totem and the implosion of the
Derrida’s Artaud: the vicissitudes of the ‘subjectile’
Artaud’s ‘graphic cruelties’: the face of the void
The voice at the end of the world: the final sound works
Conclusion: ERASING THE LINE
Artaud’s subversion of hieroglyphics
Artaud in the 21st century: the ‘present body’
Yale radio project latest
“This week Ellen Carey talks about her beautiful and ground breaking work, and Rob Green articulates the downfall of the art economy and closing of his gallery while Jessica Backus from Artsy sees a global upswing in art sales and Zlatko Kopljar compares the artist relationship to the capitalist system as similiar to the Stockholm syndrome – where long term hostages start bonding with their captors and acting like them.
More artists and theorists are here talking about what they love, which is why I love doing this.
As always, the archive can be seen here and to hear it on itunes and download to your phone, click here,”
– the new additions are these on the list below.
Lockjaw from Telephone Publishing. Book launch.
National Gallery of Victoria
Book Launch: Lockjaw
Surpllus/Telephone Publishing co-production
Sat 30 Apr, 1.30pm
Part of Melbourne Art Book Fair 2016
Zerox Dreamflesh (1979–1984) worked in the underground and around the edges – but mostly against the grain of – Sydney’s early-1980s postmodern philosophy and art scenes.
Dreamflesh was a loose group of writers, graphic artists and musicians who would have rejected the term “collective” in favour of something more like, say, “gang”. They produced a series of ’zine-ish print objects, music cassettes, colour Xerox postcards and a Super 8 film (The Black Cat, a riff on an Edgar Allen Poe story), working loosely – sometimes all together, sometimes not.
Their work was oppositional, not very accessible (though when you got it, you really got it), and always inspired and inspiring. Lockjaw (1983) – their fourth print object – was probably the most fully realised Dreamflesh project: A5, perfect-bound, part book, part magazine, part cultural terror manual.
Lockjaw was produced in a small run of a few hundred copies using a mix of two-colour xerography, offset and screen printing, and was collated and bound by hand. It was sold in independent bookshops, galleries, music stores and through the mail-art network.
Lockjaw is a multi-layered mix of photocopy, cut-and-paste graphics and text – a mashup of the intellectual and cultural world of 1982. The dense layering of words and images reflects an equally dense intellectual and emotional layering. It’s difficult to read, but rewarding, the writing a mix of metafiction, reflection, edgy philosophy, cultural journalism and existential comedy splashed across the page.
Dreamflesh’s work was produced in the spirit of Situationism and punk rock – it was ephemeral, not meant to last. Their physical traces today are scant: leftover copies of Lockjaw and their other publications (Zerox #1, Zerox #2, La La Sequence Bruit and Cargo, some colour Xerox postcards, and several music cassettes, including Wampum, a companion to Cargo) stashed on bookshelves and in boxes under people’s beds.
This reissue of Lockjaw is a co-publication of Telephone Publishing and Surpllus. The book has been scanned from an original copy and been reproduced by risograph – a 21st century analog to early-1980s photocopy art.
This new edition includes a separate section with essays by George Alexander and Professor Ross Gibson, an introduction by Sonya Jeffery, and a reflection on Lockjaw’s impact on one reader by Matt Holden.
Special events NGV International
Add to calendar
National Gallery of Victoria.
Booking is not required.
notes for a hebdo talk (more links, questions, angles welcome)
- What is it to give offence? To insult with intent? To use insults as a mode of revenge? Are these only insults or always also weapons of mass destruction?
- What is humour in a time of war? Humour and culture – from the Keep Calm slogans to the Je Suis Charlie and ‘pardon’ image. The aesthetics and context of cartoons, and what can be said inside a box and not elsewhere.
- On cartoonists, translators, books, mosques, persons, countries, faith.
- Irony and contradiction. Freedom fighters opposing freedom of speech, and vice versa. The recoding of events as freedom of speech versus terror (Spivak 2002). Binary thinking that opposes civilisation and barbarism, liberalism and fundamentalism, occident and orient (Kay 2015) or medieval and modern, uneducated or sophisticated, religious and secular (Miller 2015).
- What is revenge? Militarily and culturally? Can anyone win in this sphere? Or are we dealing with perpetual war? – as distraction for other more fundamentally economic interests? Taking sides (Kumar 2015) and anti-racism, anti-imperialism, justice and the creation of Death Squads as traps for alienated youth (Chandan 2015).
[pic is of the collaborationist newspaper of the French Nazi’s edited for several years ’43-44 by Antoine Cousteau (yep, Jacques’ brother)]
BBC Magazine trinketizing
A bit of pointless commentary that would have had more impact had it come out at the time:
What would you take from your desk?
Leaving with just a box
By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine
If you were told to clear your desk of personal belongings and leave the building, like staff at the UK headquarters of Lehman Brothers, what would you take?
Photos of the kids, spare ties, trainers, mugs – a cuddly toy? What was in the cardboard boxes being clutched by stunned staff as they left the London offices of the bankrupt US investment bank Lehman Brothers?.
SEND PICS OF YOUR DESK
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, subject DESK
MMS from UK: 61124
Int MMS: +44 7725 100100
Terms and conditions
The bank’s 5,000-strong workforce turned up on Monday only to be told they were to clear their desks of personal items and go home. Images of the newly out-of-work carrying their possessions were beamed around the world
But if you got the same instructions from an employer, what would go into your box?
“I’d take a piece of card with my name written in Arabic on it, a 30-year-old photo of my school football team, a Barcelona football club mug, a copy of my friend’s novel, a two-year-old thank you card from a student, some spare contact lenses, an iPod charger and two pairs of shoes,” says teacher Chris Baxter.
“Mainly they’re little things, but most of them are very personal. A lot of the time I don’t really focus on them, but other times they trigger good memories. I wouldn’t want to leave them behind.”
For some it’s a case of accumulation by stealth, rather than a conscious decision to personalise a drab little corner of corporate space.
Cats pics go in Mag reader Siria’s box
“Generally, I have a problem with what I call the ‘trinketisation’ of one’s workstation, so I don’t have things like pictures or figurines to take away with me,” says fellow teacher Sian Allen.
“But I would take my draw full of shoes for various social occasions after work, including one pair of Manolos.
“Also a broken iPod, six Tupperware pots in various sizes, a M&S bra with broken under wiring, a selection of unread classics, half-used packets of Ibuprofen and a small selection of thank you cards with obsequious messages from students, to remind me that I am loved and appreciated.”
When people personalise their desk they are marking their territory, says workplace behavioural expert Judi James.
“It’s something humans are hardwired to do. We’re basically animals and need to mark out what is our space. We’re also nesting and making ourselves comfortable.”
But it’s also about opening ourselves up to others and that can be very good for business.
“Personalising your work space is also about giving other people the opportunity to ask questions, it’s about socialising,” says workplace psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon.
A few little friend would go with reader Thomas Cogley
“If someone sees a photo on your desk, or picture, it is easier for them to strike up a conversation and for communication to flow. Generally, if someone shows an interest in you, then you are more likely to help them when they ask.”
But the evolution of the modern office environment, with its hot desking, can make stamping some personality on your workspace a bit harder. Modern technology has also had an impact.
“There probably wasn’t many family pictures in those boxes being carried out from Lehman Brothers because the screensaver has replaced them,” says Ms James.
“Nowadays, personal possessions at work quite often come down to a pair of trainers and tracksuit for the gym.”
Here is a selection of items that you would take from your desks.
I think I’d be content with my Alfa Romeo mouse mat and the rather dog-eared pictures of Joyce Grenfell and Margaret Rutherford that are currently adorning the casing of my monitor.
If only Faust had heard of hot desking.
John, Tower Hamlets, London, England
In front of me I have a model house, a toy TARDIS, two sea shells, a model of a 17th Century English pikeman and a picture of Kate Blanchett. Me, a geek? How very dare you sir …
Mike Molcher, Leeds
On my desk I have: A jar of honey (for my morning porridge); the Statue of Liberty (obviously a copy – a souvenir of a trip to NY); hand cream; tea bags; a stapler (a battery-operated one I brought with me); my mug, bowl, plate, spoon, knife and fork; a container full of porridge oats; a packet of dried apricots; a packet of chopped nuts; several notebooks full of information; vitamin C tablets; and a packet of instant pasta – red wine and mushroom flavour! Also a few other bits and pieces scattered on the shelved behind me, including a coat, pair of shoes, items to do with my motorcycle club (newsletters etc.) and my hole punch.
Anne Boyce, Halifax, England
I have a longboard, rock from mountain, pic of my two-year-old old daughter, pic of Johnny Cash, rear view glasses.
Ste Mc, Leeds, UK
I have a picture of my dog to remind me of her, pencil with funny tops on them from places I’ve been around the world, a little cartoon character figurine (Chucky from The Rugrats) a stone that’s supposed to be good luck.. bright coloured tabs on each side of my monitor with phone extensions just to brighten my desk area up. My drawers are filled with food for breakfast and lunch!
Emma Hamilton, Lisburn, NI
What would I take? Everything that wasn’t nailed down!
Paul, Stoke, UK
10 weeks ago on my redundancy I took: 1. All my personal bits & pieces. 2. As much of the stationary cupboard as I could pour into my large cardboard box. 3. Several DVD’s of data & client info. 4. As many of the data wall-charts (£1200 each) as I could fold up and put in my cardboard box. 5. My company laptop that I just happened to have left at home the previous week. 5. Anything else that wasn’t bolted down in my office. 6. Oh, and a smug smile on my face.
My text on reading Capital in the cinema- with Orson Welles (forthcoming in ‘Marx at the Movies’ – edited collection [email me for details if needed]).
The cinema hall as a place to sell Eskimo Pie.
‘No matter how many customers there are, it’s still an empty building’ (Orson Welles in Welles and Bogdanovich 1998: 8)
This chapter addresses the question of how, today, to start reading that rich book that is Marx’s Capital:– of which an immense, even monstrous, accumulation of commentary on the Marxist mode of literary production appears to have already shaped its elementary forms. In reading Capital, if anything about beginnings should be considered necessary, it is usual to say it is good to start at the beginning – not always of course, but usually to start with what is immediately at hand. Commentaries, primers, prefaces, intros, first sentences, first chapters: start at the beginning and continue on from there. This is itself debated, but my argument is that we can only approach Capital through the already existing commentary, even as we would like to start as if the book were new. And the commentary that exists is not only that which is explicitly marked as such, but also includes all the ideas we have already received about so many things – about Marx, capitalism, communism, exchange, commodities, and so much more. A vast accumulation of things that filter reading, so that it would be naïve to simply say that materialism might start with things themselves, even if it makes sense to start with commodities, the objects that are the souvenirs or detritus of our lives.
The key to the beginning of volume one is where Marx starts with ‘a monstrous accumulation of commodities’ [‘ungeheure Waarensammlung’ – translation modified by author], but there are many possible starts and many people don’t get much further than chapter one, or they take chapter one as the ‘proper’ beginning. I want to suggest that there is something more here and so want to begin with something else, or even someone else, who might seem the total antithesis of the celebrated critic of the commodity system. A monstrous figure to expose the workings of monstrosity all the more (the monstrous will be explained). My reading is angular, so I choose a character from a parallel history of commerce, although glossed through a film. I have in mind William Randolph Hearst – moneybags – portrayed by Orson Welles in the classic film Citizen Kane. In this chapter, I want to develop this as an introduction to Capital, through its incarnation in the figure of moneybags Kane, and to begin to get at commodities through a focus on the kind of obscure, miniature, almost irrelevant and insignificant of objects to hand – those baubles and trinkets that mesmerise Kane, and us all.
Read the whole thing here: Citizen Marx-kane.
Suicide Without Fame, without Responsibility
I have mentioned before the Joy Devotion picture book out by Jennifer Otter (launched last week) – It is a study of the things left by Joy Division/Ian Curtis fans at Curtis’s graveside in Macclesfield. A year of trinkets:
Makes me think of the media frenzy over a the Batman deaths in Texas, and about having watched footage on Syria and Libya back to back with documentaries on Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain recently… What would the various Death devotions around Curtis and Cobain be if not the industrial remnants – turned trinket commodity detritus – of people spat out by the individualization machine, in which there are no longer actual individuals, only icon figurines of abjection that come to stand in their place – ie, stand in for actual expressive individuality. All the while mass death at the hands of the weapon system barely raises a murmur. This is trinketization, expressive if dysfunctional personality and creativity is turned into a mass produced semblance of a false individuality – and it must be embodied in a fallen idol who is then unable to remain alive inside this brutalizing system. The myopic fans (we?) cling on to this brutal departure because as fans/we are unable to find a way out ourselves – somehow both caught wanting to leave, but with no-where to actually go, because suicide without fame is nothing. This, sadly, also gives a hint as to why someone might style themselves the Joker and shoot a dozen people at a movie screening. Think Brievik in Norway too – these are also the people that the Curtis and Cobain cults create. Along the way distracting from NATO’s more gruesome wars, which are barely opposed by STW or anyone.