Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A brief pause for a fleeting fit of angst

[Please, as always, just keep scrolling down for all the latest EZLN translations, as well as for assorted diversions]

I have decided to stay as far away as possible from that El Universal forum I mentioned last evening. I don’t consider myself even slightly naïve, but the sheer quantity of rabid dementia being spewed there is actually frightening.

There were a few more articles today on the weekend encuentro in the Selva, but I’ve decided to wait for the communiqués we’ve been promised. We should be getting some sort of summaries - much better, I believe, than more third-hand reports.

So what might be found the furthest possible distance from the madhouse at El Universal?

Even Herrick won’t suffice tonight, I’m afraid.

When did it all change? It really has, and I know I’m going to sound terribly recherché du temps perdu here, not to mention deeply uncool, but I don’t give much of a damn. There must have been a turning point, a marker, something we might have noticed at the moment if we’d been more attentive.

Jerry Springer, perhaps? Or when the first postal worker turned postal? When did it become not only socially acceptable, but mandatory, to be loud and loutish and hideously rude?

It’s everywhere, now, at least in North America [and I include all signatories to NAFTA]. Talking heads model the WWF, shopkeepers seethe, reality shows up the ante and reality won’t fold.

And the rancor spreads eastward. Every time I move back to Dublin, I see the change. Easier there, perhaps to fathom, given the rubble left in the wake of the Celtic tiger. Nowhere is the chasm more glaring. Stroll into Brown Thomas and watch the ladies and gentlemen who shop. Then, just round the corner, and see what you see.

But it’s so much more than that. It’s something else entirely.

All manner of people seem to have embraced their fury, freed it, finding outlet everywhere. Fits of lunatic paranoia on the Universal forum, old friends snapping into new and virulent obsession at the drop of a pin.

It’s as if the line between spectator and spectacle has blurred, and the audience has jumped into the Coliseum. As if, yes, the consummate counterrevolutionary coup, we ourselves have become the circus, and to hell with the bread.

I do, absolutely, promise to lighten up tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

When did it change ("it" being the tone of public discourse)?

Good question.

Answer: while we all slept enamoured with our "new technologies," the TV, the radio with live call-ins, the Internet... We ("we" being the once human species that evolved - or devolved - around these technologies to constitute a kind of post-human species, Pavlovian in response, the ring of any bell is a pretext to salivate our road rage) have been in a trance, some of us, for all our lives, growing up around these wires and microphones.

I'm not sure there ever was an Eden of civil discourse, though, except among the elites (which has never had civil motives: the King's English has always been a way of keeping down the proles).

And I'm not sure that this is, as you aver, a "NAFTA signatory" phenomenon. (I mean, the Canadians still seem to be somewhat Euro in their tone, but aside from that precision, I'd like to ask a few historical questions about the Old World...)

Was, for example, the Spanish Civil War "civil"? The French Revolution? The Inquisition? That rather damaging tantrum that emanated out of Germany in the last century? The fall of Rome (them Visigoths and Other-goths and "barbarians" did sort of call the bluff on Roman "civility," no?) Did Catholics and Protestants in your own Dublin politely discuss their differences during the heat of the conflicts some decades ago?

(On a related note, I did find interesting, at the El Universal forum, how much of the anti-Marcos discourse seemed to be generated from the point of view of Evangelical Protestants who feel "persecuted" by the Catholics (or by those who want them to feel that way)... Compounded by the word on the street that AMLO comes from a Protestant family, an interesting undercurrent to say the least. So perhaps all this noise didn't begin with Jerry Springer but, rather, with the first cult of monotheism (as the uncannily civil Gore Vidal hath noted).

Another factor, I think, in all the incivility on Internet message boards, live TV and radio, etcetera, is that the word of people has been supressed for so long that when it finally finds an outlet it blasts out in a long primal scream before things level out. Only I'm not sure this phenom levels out, because, as you noted, there is an illusion of participation (over spectator-ship) but in the end the frustration of still being spectators has got to sink in. (In this case, the neo-gladiators in the colliseum are merely volunteer laborers contributing free "product" to a media that can then boast the hit counts to sell more advertising, eh?)

Finally, isn't it the case that everybody loves to feel the "victim" and loves to declare they are "offended" by mere words? I don't see any higher discourse, say, on Indymedia (NAFTA-land or other... although you have created a space here where, so far, there is room to discuss, but how long can that last given the context, that is to say, given the societal "norms" of seeking to offend and seeking to be offended?)

I do salute you in creating a space to discuss the march of zapatismo in the context of the communiques. I've been struck many times over the years by how many kids with Marcos tee-shirts, or even solidarity observers in the communities themselves, don't seem to read the communiques, and seem even less ready to discuss them, to try to read, together, between the lines and delve into deeper or coded meanings. The FZLN.org.mx message board is not much higher in quality than Indymedia or El Universal, sadly.

How do we strike out against this darkness, against this technologically imposed inability to discuss? Well, I posit that we do that by not getting distracted by those ways of discussion, and by going back to the drawing board and simply constructing, from scratch, the way to do it right. You have that potential here on this forum. You're off to a great start. And "anonymous again" stands ready to participate and do (her? his? their?) part in that noble and overdue cause.

Finally - and on that note of discussing zapatismo - I do think that great communicators do have to provoke (whether its Marcos calling AMLO a serpent's egg or Marianne Faithful singing for one or another icon to get fucked, or Lenny Bruce shouting epithets) but I think when done strategically it is not merely a consequence of road rage but a way of telling who is on what side by their reactions. The first thing a warrior does before a great battle is take inventory of which troops are with him and which are against him. So, at times, there is a civil motive to "calculated incivility." It can call the grand bluffs and allow for a cleaner head-count, so to speak, and knock the adversary off his carefully cultivated sense of balance.

Comrada B said...

Agreed anonymous, wholeheartedly. And many thanks to you Irlendesa for bringing word first hand on the Zapa march. I find so many commentaries written everywhere weary ad hominem of narrow mind; but then the critical thinking is not a skill the many, embrace.

Comrada B

irlandesa said...

Querido anonymous,

Props, cheers & saludos for dashing in where Herrick failed...

I do agree with almost all your thoughts, save, unfortunately the NAFTA one. I lived in the Great North [yes, I know, as I always, say,... everywhere], and my brother has lived there for decades, holding citizenship and forth. I've seen the same sea change there as I have in Dub, despite the increasingly thin euro veneer.

As for indymedia and the children [bearing in mind that a large part of my social and dating circle encompasses same], a thousand times yes. I've tried, over the years, to seduce and lead to water [especially when I was writing those Chiapas Summaries - agitprop is so very much fun], but to little avail. I think one of the largest stumbling blocks to drinking more deeply is that, once seduced, there's nothing much to do. No structure, no tasks, no rewards [other than the obvious self-granted ones, but how many people have the patience to be sustained by that alone?] - I'm sure you remember how successful the Consulta was. Everyone had something to do, a literal sense of engagement.

And I'm also sure that no Eden of any sort has ever existed, but I also think that devouring one's young [whether it be Belfast or Palestine or the Basque Country or various and sundry indymedias] is a known, tired pattern with very certain outcome.

Always one's own place, yes, and I do know it can work, at least for one's own moment.

More tonight, I imagine.

Spark said...

i agree anon so sad about words like "civil" being twisted. abuse of words contributes to unfreedom thru the prevalence of untruth/spin/mass advertising/propaganda cultures.lies certainly do not set us free

[my favourite abused word = "Goods" , as in consumer ones]

but also, wanted to say: not sure about the anti-monotheism u touched upon ? please elaborate

and, for thse interested, while i'm here:

Report from Loopy London

7 August in Parl Square
while around 100 people broke the new law (protesting) while only 6 were meaninglessly and almost randomly -- you had to be carrying a placard2 be "protesting" - were arrested. (my placard "Evict Big Brother" but for some reason i was not arrested -maybe because i just draped it ?

anyway we were all of us there blatantly protesting/ breaking (by the very act of protesting it) the Serious and Organised Crimes Act

and though It turned out to be rather underattended, (around 100, to protest the restriction of democracy in front of the house of parliament)

.. of London)

t'was rather a delightful day

low numbers

how explicable?: in no particular order

(1)everyone is now rather protested out
(2)people like to avoid being arrested
(3)everyone in London is now scared witless
4) festival season
5)no-one in the movement has a clue what to do next
6)other reasons that i cannot think of
7) Brian Haw won his case and because of that people are not aware that he is the ONLY person in the country permitted to protest without permission in Parl Square and outlying area

but, hurrah, all is not lost, because

afternoon was of high quality

revolutionary panache appeared crowds were entertained a little

and songs

Clowns presented themselves admirably Flowers were given out, [ and the remainder i threw as a bouquet, onto the police van roof as it left-- with its innocent arrestee/detainees inside]

stetson was worn, bubbles were blown and we got some people to come down to the thames next to boadicca/ and from the middle of westminster bridge to shouts of "free the tea" [not my idea exactly but much more catchy than the one below that we had chanted just before hand] we threw tea into the thames for CTT/Tobin Tax "No Representation Without Taxation!" to great enjoyment of the 20 or so that took part(Action performed twice, by two splinter groups)

and as a result barefoot flower toting stetson got interviewed by cnn and london tonight and also spanish tv. [was unprepared for this part.savvy break down.shame because i could have really hammered it to them at this point.still kicking myself for this. oh well, other than that slight let down, all other revolutionary duties carries out to full symbolic effect, and so onwards to la victoria]

and maybe you will also be gladdened to know that sian the sufragette and i we planning for coming sundays more mad hatter tricks w/tea party rabbits and costume (sufragettes, superheroes, and whatever.. others

we want to see every good cause and every good kind represented

yes, a tea party is our next step. but i wonder, who on earth shall play alice ?

[fyi: once free of the bouquet, I kept one yellow rose. just in case you arrived. right until the very end. masque or no masque, i want to visit you in Dublin RSVP

In Solidarity

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