Sunday, February 05, 2006


Try as I might to avoid the Universe, sooner or later it grabs me by the throat.

Three in the morning, as it is every night, no books to be had and nothing on the telly. Until CNN International breaks in with coverage of Lebanese youths [always the “jovenes”, their patrons in hiding behind doorways or under grandstand cover] storming the Danish consulate. And then a Catholic church and any other threat that might appear to witless eye.

And so I was forced to confront the thought which has been everywhere of late, for me. Symbols, icons, and what lies behind, below them and, sometimes, to the left.

Two different thoughts, paths, for the moment. The first having to do with the fundamentalist laying claim to symbol, iconography. Hagiography, as it were. The American Christians who rage against a silly television show which dares to diminish Jesus by showing him in the flesh. The Lebanese youth who rage against a consulate because someone dared show their prophet in a sketch.

Someone else, once, who raged against someone who dared speak lightly of Mr. W, an idol held close by those of his chosen sect. Revealing a two-fold irony that leads to the second thought, because it is the nature of the sectarian to assume that only they know, can understand, hold an opinion on their favoured gods. The truth being that the very first time my words ever saw light of print – a lifetime or three ago – they were devoted to an exegesis on the subject of the very Mr. W.

Understandable folly to assume that I, given my gender and outsider status, would know nothing of their gods or should be allowed, regardless of knowledge, to venture an opinion.

Out loud.

But if it were to be true – that other way of looking at the iconic – then what?

What if, let’s pretend for a moment, a huge portrait of Stalin were to be hung in a room crowded with the newly faithful? Or again, along the way, a hammer and sickle were to hold pride of placement?

And what if this were to be done, not by those who quietly wear their chosen decade close to their hearts, but by those new to the fray? By the fretless, fevered young ones, seeking what all seek, whether in Belfast or Damascus or San Sebastian or LA?

That they would know nothing of the Doctors Plot or Treblinka, for example, would it matter? They are young, impassioned, resolute and, most of all, present. Would we, should we, care?

Some might smile, if smile they could, at unwitting homage to long sequestered gods.

Others, one at least, would think that those of us who do remember the gulag and the stone have a duty to impart the memories, to recommend knowledge as a necessary perquisite of engagement. To say out loud that it is good to learn the history of icon before embracing it.

Anyone who has been a parent or a teacher or an adolescent understands the heated, heedless rush to battle, and god knows anyone who has ever seen, for example, the posts to the yahoo zapatista mailing list knows that there cannot be THAT many counterintelligence ops out there.

But how can one tolerate the moral relativism that touts the self-preservative need to learn History on the one hand but then ignores it when presented with hordes of adorably naïve, untutored acolytes? I fear, much too often, that a rationale lies behind this dichotomy.

If we were to expect, request, demand, a bit of knowledge, provide even the most basic of primers, then the numbers might diminish. There would be books to be read, for one thing. And after that there would be questions to be posed, dilemmas to be discussed, goals to be weighed.

Not the grand stuff of post-mod theatre or op-ed duels from on high.

No more Gang of Five or Clash of the North of the Border NGO Titans.

No more cannon fodder, literally or figuratively.


Spark said...

to The Fiery La La G'Irl


feelings, and thankyou..

for some truly perfect words about which i cannot truly speak, but also about which i cannot, with good heart remain truly speechless

Helping to undo the spell and myth of post-modern moral relativism?!

er, it's the dodgy bombing tasteless [totally?] unecessary danish pastry show


the reactionary anti self-expressionists!

as played by the Moronic Media, the Stiff Old State and other assorted usual, suspect T'erroristas

lesson: even the secular west holds, sacred as a religious truth, certain freedoms, enshrined by icons like Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights

yet also knows the
value of restraint

and the concept of blasphemy is a direct attack on that holy cow

tortured by this, even the self-proclaimed "passionate rationalists" among us know not what to do or say [in print or otherwise]

and meanwhile the fires of over-zealous [extremist] resistance are lit: gutting embassonic torches, instead of building graceful, faithful, and yes, *fundamental* new porches

fundamental[i]s[m]. n. [eisegesical] the essence of a thing [possibly not to be found at one extreme end or another]

a revolutionary situation: not to get to get ideas above ironic, sub-zero, newly subversive iconic

[not a duel! more a non-dual, individual jewel, duendy eisegesis and exegesis combined: a dynamic duo]

from a Rose.
who really missed you!

Basta, de Silencia
y Vamos!

aketus said...

I have no idea what any of that means. I must not be on the level

Spark said...

er, in short - the shit appears to be hitting the fan ?

friend, there are lots of levels and they're all good, so it's all ok, even when it seems all messed up

Irl, will keep returning, always will hope to find more lovely warmth here in this special place

peace and love

Comrada B said...

....A teasing batting of the lashes, a roll of the eye's at the right, a deep sigh... then with the most mischievious of grins, whip's out the flirtatious turn-of-the-last-century fan handed lovingly down to her by her grandmother, (resistance fighter, revolutionary, suffragette, underground railroad, name a few)

...and fan's the flames of resistance.

So good to see you in the Parlour Irl

Fuertes Abrazos,


Anonymous said...

As seen through another set of eyes...

In the country of Mexico where so many basically decent younguns were processed through the public university system and its academic "leftists" (and still are being processed at this moment) there is a preponderance of "tendencies". When strangers from this strata meet the first question is not (as in NY) "how much do you pay in rent?" but, rather, "What is your tendency?" Or, "what is your history of militancy?" And the answer goes...

"Oh, I'm a (fill in the blank: Socialist, Communist, Anarchist, Marxist, Marxist-Leninist, Maoist, Anarcho-syndicalist, Trotskite, DiegoRiverist, SamuelRuizist, Altermundista, tercermundista, anti-globalization activist, medio alternativo, campamentista, ONGero, etcetera and bla bla bla)..."

And there comes a certain spokesman from the Mexican Southeast mopping up the margins where the marginalized and yes even lost ideologues are flailing about with a discourse that says to each of them, "thank you for revindicating socialism (or fill in the blank)" and they can hardly believe that someone is showing them respect and so they draw near and follow him from town to town with their red-and-yellow flags and posters of dead white men, in this space where many worlds, even theirs fit.

And we anarchos complain about a poster of Stalin but in the end it would be, um, Stalinist to censor speech, and a poster is just an act of expression. Nobody ever got jailed or gulaged by a poster.

This anarcho-syndicalist Stalin-hater of long militancy has a grudging respect for these nostalgic commies who drape that certain someone's caravan stops in red-and-yellow flags and posters and such. What beckons admiration is that these kids are organized. They move as a swarm, together. And one dreams of the day when we of what used to be called the "libertarian communist" now anarchist tendency decide to be organized in the same way. When that day comes there will also be red-and-black banners flanking the statue of the saint as he passes from town to town. There may even be anti-Stalin posters in the mix. And this space fits those worlds too.

But the Soviet is dead, what replaced it is no better, and Stalin ain't gonna hurt noone else from his tomb, and so what is really going on with all these hammers and sickles flying in front of windmills and pyramids along the path?

Ssshhhhh. Don't tell anyone. The guy has coopted all the sectarian leftists, even the Stalinists, and got them marching, thinking and acting behind an essentially anarcho-indigenist ideology... An ideology in which many ideologies fit. With any luck the M-L crowd will share its expertise in hard work and being self-organized with us anarcho-punks along the road. To this small observer, the sloth and incoherence of the libertarians who share my tendencies are more bothersome than a photo of some ugly bald guy that maybe one percent of the "simple and humble people who fight" along the road recognize anyway.

Spark said...

Thanks so much for these illuminating words

We are slowly getting organised here

And I hope that when he arrives we will be able to give him the all the honour he deserves

fauxtapatio said...

oh my - as if la Otra needed any more messiah imagery, thank you Spark for ensuring our surfeit.

and while at some level i want to agree with my anonymous amigo, in the spirit of anarchisms that sound and smell far more like the formal tendencies of which you speak than the eternally adolescent milieu that is our north american composition, i'm quite sure that forming central committees and selling newspapers is not in and of itself evidence of enviable organization. complexity, intuition, relevance - these things matter too.

Spark said...

Now there's a good topic for a primer: what it means to get organized

Right and Left - EZLN is/was a campaign for *national* liberation [Right] on a *below and from the left* self-governance agenda [Left]

Which means, from a Mexican perspective anyway: from and with [and towards?] the centre

But of course, when we include the global economic system, better to say from the Left, and from Below: all other descriptions may be unhelpful in the quest to right the system in favour of collectivity and co-operation

But also it must include celebration

Comrada B said...

All this rhetoric of flanking the statue of a saint is making me seasick...he's just a man.

Their ability and success at being highly oragnized is much more notable.



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