Nathalie Quintane; from ‘Tomates‘

Penchée sur mes plants de tomates, désherbant délicatement tout autour et sectionnant les feuilles basses pour ne garder que le tête, je me suis vue travaillant ce faisant comme à Tarnac, la culture de tomates dans une zone très limitée de mon jardin en étant l’une des plus visibles figures, un extrait ou un renvoi. Car je sais, par expérience, être un cobaye assez bon, et réagir, de près de loin, comme tout le monde, dans le milieu numériquement faible auquel j’appartiens.

Aussi ai-je vu (vision) des écrivains, des poètes, des professeurs, sinon maniant la binette, du moins pensant quitter la ville, ou profiter davantage de leur résidence secondaire, ou, pour les plus conséquents, reprendre enfin Blanqui là où ils l’avaient laissé en 75, ou prendre tout court Blanqui dont ils avaient oublié l’existence, ignoré l’existence, saboté par leur ignorance l’existence, puisque je venais moi-même cette année-là (2008) de lire Blanqui pour la première fois, et je m’y étais mise, le trouvant pratique et peu lyrique, plus pratique et moins lyrique en tout cas que ceux qui l’avaient lu et, couplant cette lecture aux arrestations opérées au village de Tarnac, en tiraient un effet décuplé, ou comptaient en tirer un effet décuplé, ou s’en servaient comme d’un trampoline pour reproduire ce qui venait brutalement de les saisir: non Tarnac non Blanqui, mais le décuplement, l’effet que ça leur avait fait par le passé – ou qu’ils n’avaient jamais connu, étant trop jeunes en 75 – et que ça pouvait potentiellement leur refaire (Sollers chantant L’Internationale dans le bus qui les emmène en Chine).

Ce n’est pas parce que nous avons quarante-cinq ans ou cinquante-cinq ans ou soixante-cinq ans que nous ne voulons plus vivre une vie intense ou que nous ne voulons plus écrire des textes intenses. Ou les lire; j’achetai, en 2008-2009 surtout, un nombre considérable de livres politiques historiques, tentant peut-être de compenser ma minorité numérique en la bardant de ces livres, les livres de littérature n’ayant pas suffi, Princesse de Clèves épiphénomène ne changeant rien à la nature spectrale, diminuante, disparaissante, de tous les romans et de l’efficace littéraire en général, minorité de tous les côtés, minorité parce que je lis des livres, minorité parce que c’est de la littérature, minorité parce que lisant des livres et en écrivant je suis tout de même née d’employés, eux-mêmes nés d’ouvriers, minorité parce que, bien que mesurant un mètre quatre-vingts, je suis une femme, et que j’ai de grands pieds,  minorité parce que j’habite à la campagne, et que la campagne est une chose bizarre, comme l’a bien suggéré Benjamin de Tarnac en décrivant les flics de la police scientifique s’égaillant tout heureux dans les champs et visitant le poulailler et disant que la campagne c’est pas mal et décidant peut-être au retour de planter des tomates.

Il faut savoir qu’à la fin des années 70, quand j’étais adolescente, aucune photographie de Lautréamont n’avait encore été publiée: le chapelet de photomatons qui ceinturait la collection de poche/poésie chez Gallimard était occupé par ceux qui en avaient imaginé, la tête. Lautréamont tint jusque dans les années 80, puis, las lâcha l’affaire et l’offrit, sa tête, une tête de frisé, très brun, avec deux billes noires à la place des yeux, une tête de Portugais, des Tos comme on disait à l’école, pour moi Lautréamont avait la tête d’un Tos, mais c’est pas comme ça qu’on disait au lycée où j’entrai par la suite, et encore moins dans les prépas d’après – mais là maintenant je peux le dire: un Tos.
Il y eut même phénomène pour Michaux, qui avait décidé tout seul de ne pas montrer sa tête. Les poches Gallimard s’en sortirent comme ils purent, en attendant que le vieux clamse ou cède; enfin nous l’obtînmes: un chauve, un peu plus rond que Max Schreck. Évidemment, depuis (depuis que Lautréamont et Michaux ont donné leur chef) on ne peut plus guère faire sa pimbêche quand on écrit et qu’on vous demande une photo.

Dès le mois d’avril, nous n’y tînmes plus, et nous ne sûmes que nous ne tenions plus non par nous-mêmes mais par le journal Libération, qui publia en une la première photo de Julien Coupat (il n’était auparavant qu’une couverture beige penchée sur une voiture et encadrée par deux flics, tel un elephant man embarqué pour deal de shit). Petite, en noir et blanc, mais avec un certain élan – photo vraisemblablement prise dans la rue, lors d’une manifestation? fournie par qui? Un homme jeune, à lunettes, aux sourcils bien dessinés et avec un peu de joues. Ni mieux ni moins bien que Lautréamont, Michaux et Maurice Blanchot (dont on avait depuis les années 70 de ma jeunesse abondamment répandu les photos, de celles en particulier où il est jeune et d’extrême droite). En mai, S. me montra sur l’ordinateur une autre photo, en couleur cette fois, assez pixélisée, un peu aplatie, qu’il me demanda de conparer avec un arrêt sur image du film de Pierre Carles et Georges Minangoy sur Action Directe, Ni vieux ni traîtres.
C’est la première parisienne du film, qui vient d’être projeté. Au pied de l’écran, la table rectangulaire des invités. Les réalisateurs, dont Carles, tassé. Des échanges, vifs, un homme debout dit que le sang a été versé, oui, le sang a été versé, se fait siffler, mouvements dans la salle, comble, plan sur deux hommes, jeunes debout contre un mur, lunettes, sourcils dessinés, implantation identique des cheveux, c’est lui, ça ne fait pas de doute, on sent qu’il dirait bien quelque chose mais il ne dit rien.

   

   Tarnac, commune française située dans le département de la Corrèze, 331 hab.: bon début, la définition que donne le dictionnaire d’une commune française. Conserver le début dans son bon le plus longtemps possible (un rêve français – villes fleuries, force tranquille), c’est chasser l’accident politique, i.e. définir le politique comme accident.
Maintenant, l’accident selon wikipedia: le 11 novembre 2008, plusieurs membres d’une communauté autonome basée à Tarnac, dont Julien Coupat, fondateur de la revue Tiqqun, ont été arrêtés dans le cadre d’une enquête sur des sabotages visant le réseau SNCF, puis mis en examen et placés en détention provisoire le 15 novembre 2008 sous des chefs d’inculpation relevant de la lègislation antiterroriste. En réaction, un Comité de soutien aux inculpés de Tarnac a été créé par des habitants de Tarnac et des environs, demandant leur libération immédiate. La défense pose également la question da la pertinence de l’application des lois antiterroristes et du montage médiatico-policier de ces inculpations.

   Blanqui (Louis Auguste), Puget – Téniers 1805 – Paris 1881, théoricien socialiste et homme politique français. Frère d’Adolphe Blanqui, affilié au carbonarisme (1824), chef de l’opposition républicaine puis socialiste après 1830, il fut un des dirigeants des manifestations ouvrières de fév. à mai 1848 et joua un rôle important lors de la Commune. Ses idées, qui lui valurent de passer 36 années en prison, inspirèrent le syndicalisme révolutionnaire de la fin du siècle (blanquisme) (Petit Larousse, 2003).
Auguste Blanqui, Maintenant, il faut des armes, textes choisis et présentés par Domique Le Nuz (La Fabrique éd., 2006)

   Blanchot (Maurice), Quain, Saône-et-Loire, 1907, écrivain français. Son oeuvre romanesque et critique (L’Espace littéraire, Le Livre à venir) relie la création littéraire à l’expérience de l’absence et de la mort (Petit Larousse, 2003).
C’est Jean-Jacques Lefrère qui aurait retrouvé, dans l’album de la famille de Georges Dazet, ami d’enfance d’Isidore Ducasse, la première photo connue de l’écrivain. Elle est publiée d’abord dans Visage de Lautréamont en 1977, puis sera reprise en couverture de l’édition poésie/poche chez Gallimard.
Pour en savoir plus sur la »disparition« du corps Lautréamont, voir le premier chapitre et l’iconographie de la présentation de Bernard Marcadé (Isidore Ducasse, »Poètes d’aujourd’hui«, Seghers, 2002).

   Max Schreck: le premier Nosferatu, dans le film de Murnau (1922).

   Libération du 16 avril 2009.

 

[…]

Le lendemain, j’ai repris Blanqui sa défense au procès des quinze en janvier 1832:
»Il faut que force reste à la loi! Une nation ne doit se passionner que pour la loi! Messieurs, suivant vous, toutes les lois sont-elles bonnes? N’y en a-t-il jamais eu qui vous fissent horreur? N’en connaissez-vous aucune de ridicule, d’odieuse ou d’immorale? Est-il possible de se retrancher ainsi derrière un mot abstrait, qui s’applique à un chaos de quarante mille lois, qui signifie également ce qu’il y a de meilleur et ce qu’il y a de pire? On répond: “S’il y a de mauvaises lois, demandez-en la réforme légale; en attendant, obéissez.“«

Obéissance à loi. C’est une formule qui se tient. Et qui a au moins autant d’efficacité pratique que Je est un autre (par exemple). Sans compter qu’elle est faite par tous, dans une démocratie, et non par un.

Que n’importe quelle formule peut se retourner, Ducasse l’avait montré, en 1870, et nommé Poésies.

Plus haut dans le texte, Blanqui dit le peuple muet: »Le peuple n’écrit pas dans les journaux; il n’envoie pas de pétition aux chambres: ce serait temps perdu. Bien plus, toutes les voix qui ont un retentissement dans la sphère politique, les voix des salons, celles des boutiques, des café, en un mot de tous les lieux où se forme ce qu’on appelle l’opinion publique, ce voix sont celles des privilégiés; pas une n’appartient au peuple; il est muet, il végète éloigné de ces hautes régions où se règlent ses destinées.«

Il est muet – à moins que les autres soient sourds.

»Le peuple n’existe plus, c’est l’individualité sérielle de masse qui l’a remplacé. […] Le peuple, ce n’est pas le peuple matérialisé par la masse humaine mais la possibilité toujours ouverte qu’un peuple “soit“ Or cette possibilité a disparu: le peuple – les peuples ont été dissous […]. Que tout se gouverne à la peur, que tout s’exprime dans le vocabulaire de la sécurisation et que tout soit aligné sur cet horizon ne fait plus guère de doute pour personne.«

Le peuple existe. L’individualité sérielle de masse ne l’a pas remplacé.
Le peuple, c’est le peuple matérialisé par la masse humaine. Le peuple n’est pas une possibilité; il est effectif dès qu’il agit. Cela n’a pas disparu: le peuple – les peuples n’ont pas été dissous.
Que tout se gouverne à la peur, que tout s’exprime dans le vocabulaire de la sécurisation et que soit aligné sur cet horizon fait douter quelqu’un.

 

 

  1. Si le peuple n’existe plus, alors il n’y a pas eu démeutes (révoltes) en banlieue.
    1.1 Ou alors, c’est que nous pensons que les émeutiers (révoltés) des banlieues n’appartiennent pas au peuple, ne manifestent pas un peuple.
  2. Si nous pensons que les émeutes des banlieues ne manifestent pas l’existence d’un peuple, c’est qu’elles sont le produit d’une série d’individus simplement énervés et qu’on calmera à l’eau froide.
  3. Si nous pensons que ces émeutes ne sont pas des mouvements populaires, alors ne les appelons pas émeutes, car l’émeute est un mouvment populaire.
  4. Nous regrettons que ces émeutes soient spontanées, non organisées. L’émeute, c’est une insurrection qui a échoué. Par conséquent, les émeutiers des banlieues ont échoué (selon nous). D’ailleurs, ils sont dans l’échec (scolaire d’abord,émeutier ensuite).
  5. Les émeutes ont eu lieu, pas l’insurrection – qui vient. Nous préférons l’insurrection qui va venir aux émeutes qui ont effectivement eu lieu – san nous.
  6. Les émeutes sont ponctuelles. Ces émeutes sont presque toutes consécutives à la mort d’un jeune homme ou de plusieurs, tué(s) par la police, ponctuellement. À partir de combien de points obtient-on une ligne?
    6.1 Si l’on obtient une ligne, ou si l’on n’est pas loin d’obtenir une ligne temporelle continue (émeutes en 81, émeutes en 84, 85, etc., etc.), c’est donc qu’il y a continuité de l’émeute. Comment nomme-t-on cette continuité, latente ou manifeste, de l’émeute?
  7. Les émeutiers des banlieues ne décollent pas de l’émeute. On ne peut que vouloir décoller de l’émeute. L’émeute n’est pas une ambition. On n’ambitionne pas de vivre en banlieue, d’être émeutier, bref, de faire partie d’un peuple.
    7.1 Ils font partie d’un peuple.
    7.2 Le peuple manque.
    7.3 Nous résolvons cette double contrainte par un futur simple de l’indicatif (l’insurrection viendra).
  8. In-su-rre-tion: 4 syllabes.
    Émeute: 2 syllabes.
    In-su-rrec-ti-on: 5 syllabes (avec la diérèse lyrique).
  9. L’émeute raffermit les gouvernements qu’elle ne renverse pas (Victor Hugo).
    Les émeutes des banlieues n’ont pas renversé le gouvernement.
    Les émeutes des banlieues ont raffermi le gouvernement.
    Non seulement les émeutiers des banlieues ont échoué, mais en plus ils ont largement contribué à la situation calamiteuse dans laquelle nous sommes.
    9.1 Qu’ils arrêtent, ou s’organisent.
    Une émeute n’est pas un mouvement organisé.
  10. Les banlieusards n’ont produit jusqu’à présent que des émeutes. Ils sont incapables d’autre chose que l’émeute.
    10.1 Ils ne retiennent du mot émeute que l’étymologie: émoi, émotion. Ils ne pensent pas (ils sont manuels).
    10.2 Nous ne retenons de l’émeute que l’effet qu’elle nous fait – peur et fascination (ou inquiétude et enthousiasme). L’émeute ne fait pas penser.
    10.3 Nous pensons qu’une pensée construite par une succession de propositions logiquement enchaînées fait penser. À voir.

 

from Nathalie Quintane; Tomates / @ P.O.L. éditeur, 2010

 

Audiatur 2016 Day 2 1: Nathalie Quintane in conversation with Thomas Lundbo + reading from Tomates from Audiatur on Vimeo.

 

 

 

Nathalie Quintane, from ‘Joan of Arc‘

Jeannette!

                                Joan!

I am the saint who transmits

Catherine speaks to you

                                                        Through Joan will others be conceived

 

 

 

 

 

               Joan, you are exceptional

               but you must remain humble.

When men of arms follow you

do not forget to speak of the Catholic faith


                                           your knees will guide horses

Catherine conceives Joan of Arc

                                                     you cannot last here

Joan, you must go to Vaucouleurs, meet

       Robert de Baudricourt, gain audience with

          Charles VII, convince him of your mission,

          be put at the head of a small army, compel

        the English to lift the siege of Orleans, and have

    the king crowned at Reims.

                                 Through your ears so goes your life

_________________________________________

Why do people give her, standing with arms dangling, a wide berth, whereas when she’s seated milking or sewing a button, they stop just far enough away to watch her : there’s only a bit of her own past caught working for someone else that matters at this point ?

Why, in what way, was a basic action (to rub down, to furbish) not enough?
Why, in what way, was a basic reflection (sound of rain, dust of dandelion) not enough either?
What could make the action be even more active, and reflection be even more reflective?

Of course, having reached this stage of the question of the reflection and the action, anyone would think, right away, of working flat out.

The militant of humility sips the soup someone spat in.

The young monk labors without stint.

Neither ready for this, nor for waiting anymore, she would hold in the balance the voice of angels in her ear and her charger between her thighs, copulative action and reflection, until the rout.

___________________________________________________
She thinks of new forms of assault.

— Unfortunately, the number of military ruses is limited; one gets, at best, only a new combination of old ruses, one ruse fitted into another, or an unexpected sequence.
— The way they are built, cities can only be approached, even captured, in 7 ways : by the gate, an open gate, by the closed but staved-in gate, by scaling the walls, by knocking the walls down, by making a breach, from the top by throwing weapons, objects, fire, from below by digging a tunnel.
— By brandishing above the crenels heads stuck on spears, 8 ways.

Pyramid of Burgundian arms piled at the gates of Orleans
Fashioning a sarcophagus to halt the stench

— I do not despair of adding to the repertory of ruses one that will bear my name
Because the preparation for war gives me a taste for invention.

It’s a matter of making things concrete through action.

The more the battles mount, the more my virginity expands.

 

— For the moment, I’m pretty radical and spontaneous :
if you don’t like war, change wars.

_________________________________________

To go from the uncertain names of Tarc, Dare, Daire, of a girl who could have been unnamed — who would have been the shepherdess, her father’s daughter, a Domremian, a partisan —, to the immunized Joan of Arc, whom one learns to recognize from A.R.C. and

Arc

Arc

Arc

Arc

Arc to duplicate, finally as moniker, that which one dreams oneself : Angel Benefactor, Exterminator, Guardian Blonde, Gay and Patient Provider, Aide to Salvation, Soldier Lily, Faithful Standard, Unfailing Adjuvant, Linear and Wise Flower, Eye and Ear, Altar of Clairvoyance, Kind Enterprise, Prudent Victory, Image, Creatrix of Evidence, Gleaming Blade, Scourge of God.

____________________________________________________

[…]

Joan, dressed in her armor, spends a lot of time observing herself in the different parts of this armor, piece by separate piece, down and back up depending on whether she first considers the plates of articulated metal that cover the feet, or rather the shoulder.

When she walks, she does not walk all of a piece, but follows herself, independently and by turns, in each part of her new guise.

In the same way, having worn a new dress, she had found herself reduced to her dress many days in a row, its shape, its weight, and its color, weighing on her mind.

Reconstructed temporarily around her dress, she’d had little latitude for thinking about anything else: to plan, to decide. She hardly had leeway enough to obey an order still.

To admire herself in her new dress paralyzes her.
To regret it, too.

(In the same way, when she has just washed herself, her cleanness prevents her, for a time, from distancing herself from cleanliness.)

– Before my first assault, there was a world between the world and me: bells rang, my father yelled, the sheep bleated.

 

THE BLACK HORSEMAN—JOAN OF ARC

 

Zig-zag, arm semi-circling, lunging my horse, it turns itself round three times,
chimneys were blown down, and, as they say, lamentings heard i‘ the air, strange
do not follow my finger, three times I turn myself round, rough draft of
screams of death, and prophesying with accents terrible of dire combustion and
duel, no part of the standard can serve as flask, no backhand of gauntlet will make
confused events new hatch’d to the woful time: the obscure bird clamour’d the live
him jump, down! down! once on the ground, he does not rise, because his armor
long night: some say, the earth was feverous and did shake. ‚twas a rough night
is too heavy, although English-made, he would need one aide, or two,
my young remembrance cannot parallel a fellow to it. O horror, horror, horror!
and everyone busy, just my luck, however, if I happen to fall
Tongue nor heart cannot conceive nor name thee. What’s the matter? Confusion
myself, I’m in as hapless a position, yet neither time nor wit comes to me,
now hath made his masterpiece. Most sacrilegious murder hath broke ope the
what to do? if not to speak while swinging the arm, surely, useless to seek to see
Lord’s anointed temple, and stole thence the life o‘ the building. What is’t you
to seek to see, even to distinguish, whatever it is, though his name be Black, he
say? The life? Mean you his majesty? Approach the chamber, and destroy your
is variegated enough, but dusty (due to the ardor), rough draft of duel, surely,
sight with a new Gorgon: do not bid me speak; see, and then speak yourselves, ah!
I will remember nothing from all this; in sum, what do you think happened?
Ring the alarm-bell, murder and treason! Banco and Donalbain! Malcolm! awake!
Joan of Arc! Joan of Arc! Joan of Arc! Jesus! in the name of self and king! exhor
shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit, and look on death itself! up, up,
invocation, exhortation, defy! let your bones go to the Loire, the hardest! not without
and see the great doom’s image! As from your graves rise up, and walk like
the right, fluctuat: he’s on my coat of arms! may your issue rot in your balls,
spirits! to countenance this horror. Ring the bell. What’s the business, that such
at thigh-guard! knee-plate! Spew yourself out piece by piece from your mouth, Joan
a hideous trumpet calls to parley the sleepers of the house? Speak! speak!
rain, knights rain, Joan rain! and Knights rain!

our traces: runs, pellets, droppings; no more than a badger.

In the end, me on the ground heavy as a tree trunk, head
wobbling

like the inflated bladder of a pig

Me, with feet twice the size of my hands.
Me, with lame shoulder.
Me and my sentence, 100 times the same 100 days.
Me and my horse, and the blows I rain when it falls.
Me, Joan, my chin always closer to my brow (without
teeth!)
PROUD—PURE—JOYOUS—CONQUERING
PROUD: is there any way to be hunchback in armor?

PURE: water falling over my body, from which, it’s
blessed.
JOYOUS: from the tacit joy that gets me up in the
morning.
PROUD: by my chin, and the stance of my feet.
PURE: after the war.
PROUD: everywhere always and I bring my horse.
PURE: I am clean in thought, word, and deed.
JOYOUS: smiling, with mouth wide, my teeth golden from
pollen caught in them.

Here I am, credulous, high up on the crest, reeking of
cresol,
myself reeking, running in my own grease,
crepus-
cular before this crescendo that’s killing me, before the
gag-
gle of cretinous cretins

– Even though it had been more useful for me to learn to write standing up, or sitting in motion (horseback), being given (a chair) without further ado, I sat on it, and in that understanding I was to begin to write sitting down.
– My hand draws a big circle that the index finger and thumb cannot close—the sword handle is not the nib of a quill.
– I often touch my lips.
– I lean over less when I eat.
– I stop between each letter, never having dreamed of observing the skin on my fingers so close up.
– And so, while learning, you regard, as much as the letters you’re drawing, the table’s wood, the paper’s paper, the master, and in this one: eyes, mouth (which moves), front teeth, collar, first button on the collar when you have just made an error.
– The time I wanted my eyes to follow the letter being formed, I could not finish it.

Jehanne

 

………………………………………………………………………
Jeanne Darc is a series of fifty untitled prose poems on the subject of Joan of Arc by the experimental French writer and performance poet, Nathalie Quintane. Joan of Arc is not biographical, even though its eponymous character had a short, vivid life fighting the English on behalf of the French heir to the throne, Charles VII. The dramatic outlines of her brief life and terrible end are well-known, and Quintane sees no reason to reiterate them. Rather, she writes from the margins and in the interstices of the well-known story, focusing on the overlooked or insignificant aspects of Joan’s life, which opens up our imaginations to questions about her lived life. She shepherded her father’s sheep in her earlier life. How, then, would she have learned to wear armor, ride a horse, plan a battle? How did the shepherdess Jehane become the symbol of France, Joan of Arc (what’s in a name)?The first two poems included here are apostrophes to Joan, St. Catherine addressing the shepherd-girl, and as such, represent the moment in which “Joan of Arc” is “conceived” by St. Catherine, whose voice Joan claimed to hear first. It is St. Catherine who instructs Joan to defeat the English and crown the Dauphin the King of France (also to speak of the Catholic faith to the men she will lead!). The sequence moves from that voice to specifics about becoming Joan of Arc. To approach the subject of Joan of Arc in a fresh way, actually to humanize her palpably, Quintane writes imaginatively from inside Joan’s embodied experience, mining the marginalia of the legend, evoking sensory impressions and existential reflection. Quintane is not trying to replace one narrative with her own corrective, but to deconstruct the narrative process, which simplifies a complex history, altogether.From an opening sequence that places Joan in her original quotidian context, Jeanne Darc weaves its sections in fragments among the components of the received narrative. Joan plans her first campaign and sews a button. She had always been an excellent seamstress. She contemplates military strategy and considers the challenge of inventing new modes of assault. Worth noting is that the title in the original comes from the fact that Joan herself spelled out “Darc, patron of angels” when she could write. Joan is portrayed less as a spiritual visionary in Jeanne Darc than as a remarkable (and cross-dressing) military strategist. The two parts of Joan’s life, warrior on the surface but austere virgin underneath, comprise a trope for contemporary feminist self-performance that would subvert dominant nationalist narratives that use the image of Joan of Arc as pawn to power.Jeanne Darc © P.O.L éditeur, 1998

Jean-Marie Gleize; ELEVEN NOVEMBER 2008 / ANARCHY / STATIC SHOTS / CAUGHT IN THE WATER / BEYOND VOICE

2. ELEVEN NOVEMBER 2008

That night the wind was blowing above the ferns. The
sky had fallen like a metal shutter.

The scene was almost invisible and mute. One could
hear footsteps.

*

knocking over, bit by bit, all the obstacles

making each sentence into a fire stand

 

the folly of an order

On eleven November at 5 a.m. the police cross Toy-Viam with dogs.
The five access roads to the village of Tarnac are blocked.
The village is sealed.
A helicopter surveys the zone.

150 policemen
60 from the sdat (sous-direction de l’antiterrorisme)
50 from the dcri ( direction centrale du renseignement intérieur)
40 from the police judiciare in Limoges

The house searches begin.
They find
neither weapons, nor explosives, nor incendiary bombs, nor steel rein-
forcement bars, nor metal hooks.

Stretches of ferns, hedges of ferns, banks and beds of ferns.

A mask with fixed eyes gulps down the head of a bird.

 

Three men and two women are arrested, placed under
police custody and transferred to Levallois.
One of them is imprisoned Charged with Indicted for

no evidence
no material evidence fact or proof
no implement

for criminal conspiracy                                 for in relation
with relation
in the forest
(someone will answer that there is only continual forest, night and
rain, music)
or terrorist
of terror                under high trees under wood under cover

one or several cabins and electrical sabotage a
terrorist enterprise
He will be remanded into custody.
Remanded
far from the river.
After his [three three three] demands to be released are rejected

in February the fourth month
in April the sixth month
but with no police record
degradations degradations

no material evidence no implement
no dna trace           no blood                no salvia
no trace nor prints                                            Thousands
of ferns.

 

4. ANARCHY

Anarchy is represented in the figure of a
woman whose entire posture, body, eyes,
mouth announce fury. Her eyes are blind-
folded, her eyelids tremble, her hands are
wet, her tufted hair tousled and her cloth-
ing torn. She tramples over the book of
the law and a bundle of sticks. She bran-
dishes a knife and in the ohter hand a lit
torch. On the ground at her sides lie a
cracked scepter, a broken yoke, a prayer
rug, a pearl necklace, a silk scarf and foam.
Around her there is clotted blood, motor
parts, nails, screws and puddles of urine.

 

Or again in the figure of a serpent that vomits and
                                         slobbers.

5. STATIC SHOTS

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12. CAUGHT IN THE WATER

Marat, Marat’s smile. He said that nothing frightens timid citizens as much
as popular uprisings: they tend to destroy their happiness in bringing about
a new order of things; they speak only of pacifying the people; they have
powerful reasons for this, for to what do we owe freedom if not to popular
uprisings? It was a popular uprising that brought down the Bastille, it was a
popular uprising that aborted the aristocratic conspiracy, the National As-
sembly took office only thanks to popular uprising, it is to popular uprisings
that we owe everything, arise, arise!

 

reject your illusions prepare for the struggle reject your illusions prepare for the

Snakes frighten those that do not know them.
Whence study, our passion for study. Inquiry.

 

In the first image a peasant was speaking to children. They listened with
heads bowed. He said: “In the guerilla warfare zone one needed to be con-
stantly ready to disperse the school and hide the equipment.”

Beneath the second image the caption said: “conduct inquiries to
conform yourselves to reality.”

 

Mallarmé watched the death of Anatole, the open grave and the thrown
flowers, and the earth.
He cut, tore, piled up pieces of paper.
Scraps, of sencteces. He had this strange way of speaking of the earth. It
was almost as if he had earth in his mouth.

Mallarmé says that the body of the son and the body of the father are the
same body. He writes these words on society, he writes that it is furious.

He writes:             “vile society that had to crush him, perhaps”

Mallarmé looks at his hands, and writes further:
“What, the thing I am saying / is true—it is / not only /
music – – – / etc.”

 

In this film an image is said to be “black at the center.”

Mallarmé writes: “death-purging / image in us / purged by / tears— /
remains only / not touching— / but speaking.”

 

At Flins, the Renault factory had been on strike since the middle of May.
The conflict continued despite the accords signed by the unions. The uni-
versities were taken back by police one by one. Everything was over, every-
thing continued. In the night from the fifth to the sixth of June, knocking
down the Les Mureaux gates at the back of the factory with half-tracks,
machine guns, 3,000 riot police invade the factory. In front of the central
transformer. They cut the electricity. They cut the telephone.

On June tenth a team finds itself at the tip of an island near
the Meulan bridge. At four o’clock.

The dive in.

The one who cried out takes a long time to drown. He disappears. Another
tries to pull him out by his clothes. The fabric tears. He carried off.

This slow motion, that’s war.

The surface of writings is like the mirror of lakes, rivers, streams. It seems
to reflect the uppermost sky, but this uppermost sky is in truth only the
reflection of the sky caught in water.

 

This story is simple but. Because in reality all stories are made of several
stories and all of these severals do not have the same size or weight. There
are these bits that are together several and climb over and enter under each
other, they form a rough, bumpy terrain, they pile up and jostle, pile up and
gather. As simple as hopscotch or a kite, and like grammar, supple as can
be.

And these several stories are made of one, that of revision at a distance
(whence the fact that I am scrawled in luminous gray when I lean over the
surface):

“I revise the child I am from afrar.”

 

Some dream of a river bank, invisible. Of an invisible bank. Of an invisible
river. A dream in which the only image is the sound without sound of a
slope. The beginning of a gesture in few words. The exercise consists in
finding the instant when the gesture begins, or simply the sound of the
words, or like the memory of voices, of a voice.

A poem is not an island, certainly not.

 

 

15. BEYOND VOICE

January 5th. The image of a
“black box” (like those on
airplanes) has remained with
me. Words said in negative,
waiting to be developed in the
dark, Yes, such “blind
objectivity.” In his letter he
tells me that I speak as an
illiterate with a headless
body.
January 7th, “beyond
voice.”
The cross is cloven,
each part hanging. (“and so his
hands and his feet seemed
to be pierced in their centers by
nails whose heads were in the
palms of his hands and the soles
of his feet and the nails protruded
so that one could fit a finger in
the space as into a ring, and the
heads of the nails were round and
black.”)
Night of January 9th to 10th.
Dreamed of Serge Hajlblum,
rising from beyond his death
now confirmed, announced.
Essentially his face, transformed
(which was superimposed on that
of Denis Lavant seen the day
before on a TV screen playing a
man wounded in the head
almost mad). I question him
about that face, its strange
contours, its hardness.
January 29th. Siena with B.
“Psychiatric” parking lot and
Catherine of S., her pillow of
bricks, her finger.
February 14th. Snowed in.
Unreachable. Intense cold, inside.
The wind, feng. Erasure of
lines, the blackboard (of the
trees) completely covered
with chalk. Cloth white with
chalk dust. “Received from B. the pages
entitled “a day of grace.”
February 15th. Received your day
of grace which in fact does not
specify (no doubt cannot
specify) anything of what binds
the experience (merely named, no
more) to its consequences (its
paradoxical consequences). The
only prior justification (“might I
say”) through refusal (NO) of a
sense that contradicts (that is
contradicted by) the practice of
writing caused by and
confronting the absence of
sense or absent sense, and the
senselessness of everything. And
the movement (of things of grace)
from Experience to the
experience of seeing (heightened
relation to the real, etc.) March
2nd. how does this new cavity / a
body falling at a glance, whose? /
or seeing the sky pour
down straight on the eyelids and
gray-black / going down for
obstruction of the frame, curtain
of ferns, falling heavy to prepare
the ground / feng, feng / a moist
and slow ground (stopped).
March 21st. — A tree was hit. —
The ground shook, yes. (that’s
when the gray lake of sky
becomes nearly black, the black
and it’s night, and now the music
starts or starts again, it comes
from the forest, crosses it, and
that’s all) April 2nd. You don’t
start a war, you’re in it. You do
not start, you’re there. Rimbaud:
“I am on strike.” In this regained
obscurity, then
(“I drank, squatted in the heather
Wrapped in a hazel grove By a
fog”) zones of actual autonomy
zones of provisional autonomy
corridors for retreat
if needed to resume elsewhere
further under cover, the
practice of “I am on strike.” /
for a politics of the present of
presence of permanent invention,
gestural gazes,
continuous fabrication of
cabins —

 


Jean-Marie Gleize. TARNAC, A PREPARATORY ACT

Edited by Joshua Clover, translated by Joshua Clover, Abigail Lang, and Bonnie Roy.

@Kenning Editions, 2014

Audiatur 2014 Day 3 11: Jean Marie Gleize from Audiatur on Vimeo.

___________________________________________________________________________

Sean Bonney; Our Death

Our Death 32 / (after Miyò Vestrini)

I would wake up. I would hate. I would fuck. I would rarely think about Bakunin. I would walk around the town. I would think about the careful differences between anarchism, epilepsy, addiction, psychosis, the dialectic, various syndromes and panic. I would think about their rhythm. I would get slightly horny. I would refuse to leave the house. I would spend 20 euro on a bag that was barely worth 5 then consider murdering the dealer. My biggest fear is that one day I will murder someone. I like the rain. I won’t tell you why. Instead I will tell you how much I am fearful of food. I chew it thirty times. I spit it out onto the ground. It makes me sick. I am losing weight. I don’t care. When people tell me I am losing weight I say so what the sun, the sun too is losing weight. It is the law of the cosmos. I actually do say that. After I say it I start to cry. Someone puts their arms around me. I rarely care who. I think about the wind and the insects that live there and make a mental note of the number of my friends who are in analysis. I am not in analysis. I would rather be like the insects who live in the wind and do something remarkable with silk but instead I am crying in a strangers arms and they would really rather I would stop and this has fuck to do with the magnificent silk made by the laughter of insects. I remember meeting a hippy once who told me I was going to have a very long life. Shit in your mouth, I murmur, to the memory of the hippy. I run out into the middle of Kottbusser Tor. Its 3 in the morning and there is very little traffic. I go crazy again and start to recite poems. The ancient poems known to all of us. The ancient poems that could kill us if they wanted, each single syllable. I fall asleep in the bar. I don’t go home. I think a little about the moon, its relation to marxism, to the riots of five years ago and the predicament we find ourselves in now. Its a full moon. It hides very little. There is a great pain in my chest. Please don’t leave me.

When you were born, which you were told on several occasions was 1969, there were a group of Americans tramping about on the moon. You didn’t think about them. You were screaming your head off . Whatever. The furniture changes places every night. There is blood in your nose. You don’t know who your family are. That’s ok. Each morning they break your arms. They tell you it is fatal. They tell you it will help you breathe better. Alphabets come from your mouth and they tell you they are fake. Fake the words that come from your throat and fake the unpredictable furies. Fake your burnt skin. Fake your blue eyes. Last night you said to yourself I am so sick of being unable to sleep I will take 37 of these pills. They are like milk in my mouth. Like spittle and spectres. Like childhood. And all those other things. You don’t know what those things are. You drink some beer. You go out looking for smack. The men stomping around on the moon didn’t think about beer or smack, you’re sure of it. You lie down in some kind of stupor singing Beethoven to yourself. The men in the moon didn’t think about Beethoven. They said to each other, do you love me. Wankers. There are stains on all of your clothes. You don’t know what the stains are. You lie in bed and wonder about the men on the moon, and if they are still there. Dying, you decide, takes much time, much dedication.

 

Our Death 28 / (after Emmy Hennings)

I guess they’ve probably got me on their death-list somewhere. Probably quite far down. Not that I’m bothered – I’ve always been fairly careful inside my life, am quiet and am often frightened.

One day they smashed my heart. Since then I’ve been getting sicker. So what. The Angel of Death – if that’s what they call it – is on my side. I’m going to keep on dancing till they get me. They can nail me into whatever filthy little grave, I’ll never snitch on anyone.

All these banners and people and songs. Its like I’m flying through caverns, through grottoes and mythical tunes. I have bit-parts in other people’s dreams. I interpret their faces. The old, the sick, the beautiful, etc, none of them mesmerise me. A black cross in the centre of my room.

 

Our Death 13 / What If the Summer Never Ends

None of us have slept for a long time. How could we. There were fires up and down the Charing Cross Road. Mumbled conversations about Apartheid. England was damp, was possibly leaking. We followed tiny trails of liquid waste across the city. Called it aesthetics. Called it action. We all fell down. Some of us voted. Some of us put on balaclavas. There were several earthquakes. Endless strategies of tedious indifference. Some major buildings and some statues defaced. Declaration of endless war. Parties in the park. Criminalisation of drinking. Several dead friends. There was experimentation with make-up and electricity. Occupation of a number of universities. Fist-fights with cops and fascists. Talks on Russian Futurism in squatted pubs while central London burned. Distress. Hate speech. Consolidation of royalty. Running for our lives. It’s difficult now – all of that stuff is piled up like a heap of expressionist rubble in a semi-imaginary alley somewhere far away. We argue endlessly about whether it was us who died or them, but the one thing we all agree on is the barbed line that separates us. Sometimes we pluck that line. It makes a high and barely audible electric screech, like some useless old record. It puts immense pressure on the inside of our skulls, like boiling bleach, like the abolition of all memory. Its speaks of heartbreak, of denial, of new advances in somnambulism. Of revenge fantasies and drug addiction. It has nothing to say about where to go from here, about the day we crawl out from under our scattered rocks, and burn their border controls to the ground. One day our eyes will close. One day the sun will finally go down.

Our Death 8 / „It’s Hurts to be Murdered“

You know how sometimes the dream cycle comes to resemble the inner workings of a solar cop. That lucky old sun etc. Like for instance its night-time, no-one around, and you’re kicking in a door. No particular reason, just kicking. Then light. Everywhere. All of a sudden like completely out of nowhere you’re surrounded by cops and they’re smashing your head into it, over and over, the light, the door, dragging you off, smashing to pieces. And there you are are kind of screaming, yeh. Yeh I admit it you scream. I was probably doing whatever it was you said I was thinking. And as you scream that they just hit you harder, these, the cops of the living, banging your face into the astral sky and celestial dirt, until you’ve no longer got a face just a heliograph of recent incidents, a howl of anciency, a system of exchange. One segment broken glass equal to seven burnt souls. One mathematically transmitted disease. Its a city plan, this is. Its an angle of light its a map of the stars, the pigs of hell and the pigs of the ocean floor. You wake up in some kind of cellar. You wake up and you think its the shithole of the universe you’re in. You wake up surrounded by dead cops. They want nothing. They want you to talk and your skin is on backwards you put your hand wherever your mouth was and. All I’ve got is I know I’m a bone. All I’ve got is I know who you are, bastards, kids of bone. Nothing. One black hole equal to one crowbar. A million incidents. All of them. The screaming laughter of the dead. The border controls of the dead. You never sleep. You don’t complain. Most mornings you’ll settle for nothing less than the obliteration of the sun.

after Roger Gilbert-Lecomte’s “Le fils de l’os parle”.
title from Diane di Prima’s “Thirteen Nightmares”.

 

Our Death 6 / On Throwing Bricks

“Some things are reserved for the dead and they can’t imagine them”. That’s either Artaud or Heraclitus, or more likely a combination of both, I don’t remember, but anyway its been echoing around whatever remains of my skull these past few days as I wander around the neighbourhood trying to work out exactly when it was the catastrophe took place. My routine is simple. I go to the cafe. I order breakfast. I usually eat it. I sit by the canal. I go to the bar. I talk to people. I want things. I never fuck. I’m not bothered. At some point I make minor adjustments to the flow of red and white corpuscles through my body. Eventually the day stops and I sit around in Kotti and drink beer and sometimes I spit blood and I wonder what, if any, micro-social effects my corpuscles might have on the cobblestones, kind of like if you threw a brick at a window and both of them shattered, both brick and window, and the pieces then combined and mutated and split apart and cut across corporate time and un-lived time and un-dreamt time and, well, yeh, the catastrophe, whatever that is. We all know its happened. We’re all pretty sure what it means. Most of us know that most of its light has yet to reach us. Britain’s preening little act of self-destruction was one of its more minor manifestations, of course. And the sound of the word “Britain” ringing inside my skull forces me to my feet, and I stare at the faces of a few passing strangers and wonder about the ratio that must exist between the precise number of blood-cells tormenting my body, and the precise number of unidentified stars in what we still so un-precisely call the sky. Somewhere down near the bridge I pick up a brick. It’s rough and smooth in my hand like the bones of a murdered aristocrat. I drop it again and it breaks into two pieces. I pick up those pieces. I drop them again. I keep doing this. I start to scream. I arrange the pieces on the ground. With each scream I name one of them. The bones of Boris Johnson. The face of Theresa May. The sudden screeches of a million birds descending on the broken alchemical stench of what was once called London. One of those screeches is called the Human Rights Act. One of them is called Immigration Policy. Each of them sounds like the noise I imagine a comet would make as it slammed into the earth, and smashed into roughly the same number of pieces as there are blood-cells in my body. I feel the need to sleep. I pick up another brick. I stare at nothing. Everything is silent now, silent like the noises the canal sometimes makes at dawn. Of course, none of this actually happened. I live a quiet life, and it is many years since I threw a brick through a window. I am, as the saying goes, “worried but outwardly calm”. I lean against the wall of the elevator as it carries me up to my 6th floor apartment in this more-or-less modern building in this still more-or-less working class part of Kreuzberg, and I wonder about the sounds the dead would make if they could imagine the light that surely does reach them from whatever future still remains to us. I open the door to my apartment and sit there in the dark. I feel old and tired and deeply afraid of my dreams.

 

Our Death 3 / A Note on my Recent Poetics

I stopped smoking pot a few months ago because it was making me paranoid, but since then most days I’ve been taking potentially fatal doses of amphetamine. Its almost certainly making me psychotic, but it does at least have the advantage of saving me from the vast cataclysm that sleep has become. Most mornings I feel uneasy, visible and invisible at the same time, trapped between the proverbial two worlds, neither of which I’m prepared to accept or even tolerate. I can’t tell them apart anyway – everything’s functioning at some kind of stroboscopic level, where the invisible world is populated by a gaggle of flesh and blood insomniacs staggering around after a shipwreck, and the visible one by a weird star-map, a network of knots and tumours that up until now have been locked somewhere in the centre of the earth, a hell of alphabets and spectral injustices that we can summarise as a string of cysts arranged in strings along the chronology. Lets see. There was the poll tax revolt. There were punk houses. There was ecstasy and acid and free parties. The criminal justice bill. Britpop. The rise of the ironic wank. The phrase zero tolerance. The boredom of enforced hedonism. The skeleton of Tony Blair. The flames of humanitarian intervention. The inevitability of jihad. And thats just one more or less arbitrary little cluster, a hall of various mirrors that every morning I chop and snort increasingly gargantuan lines from until, in the words of Ernst Bloch, “years become minutes, as in legends where, in the apparent time span of a single night, a witch cheats her victim out of a long life”. And I don’t know whether I identify with that witch or not, but I do know that there are some mornings when I consider the possibility of powdering Blair’s bones, and then casting them at the feet of various monuments – say for example the statues that encircle Trafalgar Square – so as to transform them into real demons. The crisis, or whatever it is we’re supposed to call it. The ruins of the Ritz, for example. The broken glass of Millbank. The jail terms of the rioters. Ah shit. The smell of blood is overpowering. I have very serious doubts that my body will survive the current catastrophe but, what the hell, I know for a fact that my shadow will never be seen inside the Cities of the Dead. My skeleton, however, and those of my friends, may well one day be seen dancing on their embers. Their ashes. See you later. It is becoming increasingly clear that Thatcher faked her death.

 

Our Death 2 / From Deep Darkness

The violent disk in the centre of the sky and the coins in my pocket both radiate the same infernal energy. I know this because I have been awake for five days. I know I’ve been awake for five days because when I went out onto my balcony this morning all the buildings in the city collapsed. This seemed to me to be something of a cause for concern, so I sat down to write my will. Here goes. My coffee cups and typewriter I leave to, I dunno, whoever can scream the loudest. My collection of empty beer bottles I leave to my landlord. My library I leave to the homeless of Kottbusser Tor. My credit card likewise. My sexual uncertainty I keep to myself. My love I leave to the suicided. My drug habit I leave to cops, let them wither, mutate and die. My hatred I keep close to my heart. My heart I leave to the centre of the earth. My grief. Gah. My grief which is the size of the tiny racist island on which I was born, I compress it, I transmute it into something like the wild and collectively inhuman joy of the swifts that circle the city with a frenzy wilder than. Oh whatever. The heart is such a lame metaphor. And so pathetic, the idea of  burying it in the earth, when I could just as easily fire it into the centre of the red spot of Jupiter. For example. My sensory system. For example. My five senses I leave to the invisible moons of Pluto, like a cluster of burst and eclipsed stars, like the city’s swifts, flickering in and out of calendrical time, where coffee cups and typewriters and habits and all the rest become a violent disk of knots and tumours trapped somewhere far outside of the known world, because obviously after five days without sleep your heart gets into some fairly interesting unknowable rhythms and your connections with the earth and its five senses become increasingly tenuous and I think at this point of Will Alexander’s essay “A Note on the Ghost Dimension”, I don’t know if you’ve read it, he writes in it somewhere about the missing five days of the Mayan calendar, which apparently is a time when monsters and poisons will appear, and I don’t know much about the Mayan calendar, but after five days without sleep I know a lot about ghosts and monsters and poisons, and a lot about how the missing five days could be taken to mean the fate of the five senses themselves, and how those missing five senses have been kidnapped and held for no ransom on some irrelevant island deep within the centre of some capitalist astrological system. My tiny racist island I leave to the monsters and poisons. The ghost dimension I leave to my dearest friends. My knots and tumours I leave to those who would form a new government, that they might learn just how tiny, how rabid and lost a hijacked sensory system can become. Ah fuck it. I leave the look on my face to my enemies. I leave the red spot of Jupiter to the unemployed, I’m sure they know what to do with it. Screw my heart. Resist death by water. By fire and rope also. I am fearful of nothing. I love you all so fucking much.

Our Death 1 Letter in Turmoil

“It is no longer possible to have a balanced relationship with the world”. I read that somewhere in Ernst Bloch, throw the book at the wall, scream for a while, then run down six flights of stairs to the street below. This seems to happen just about every morning. I head to the canal and stand there staring at the swans, and pronounce certain words of shrivelled power. Theresa May, for example. Stephen Crabb. Of course, these words only have purchase in the land of the dead, but still I recite them, their syllables grinding together like the ghosts of medieval machinery, like a parade of headless skeletons or the wonder of a ghost train perfectly preserved in post-apocalyptic brine, the auditory bleach we bathe in every day. The canal is called the Landwehr and is famous. On June 1st 1919 they dragged Rosa Luxemburg’s insulted body from it. It had been there for six months. I think about that as I stare at the swans. I also think about the well known poem by Paul Celan that alludes to that incident, and about how he talks about the silence of the canal, or at least about how the canal has become silent, and I think about how wrong that is. Its inaudible radioactive signals never stop shrieking, an impossible music I’ve been unable to stop dancing to for days now, each of its notes the representation of an impossible world flickering somewhere just outside the borders of the known imaginary spectrum, those impossible borders, those ridiculous walls. We scratch ourselves to pieces on those walls. Or rather we write there. And what we write there would explode all known dictionaries were it not for the foul neoliberal glow of the so-called sun transforming all we have written into, once again, those aforementioned words of power. May. Crabb. Dirt and bones and gas. Yes every morning I sit there by the canal and when the panic has passed I murmur softly to the swans, and then I go home and dream that I have befriended them and they have flown high across the border and into the land of the dead, and there they have torn out the throats of all of our tormentors and they have passed a soothing balm among the souls of all those who continue to live but are trapped in that land, and obviously by soothing I mean usefully corrosive and deadly, and it is rare that I don’t wake up in tears. I’m trying to stop that shit. I’ve been studying magic, utopia and weaponry. I’ll keep you up to date with my progress.

 

Letter Against the Language

God has chosen precisely what does not exist in order to reduce to nothing what does exist – St Paul

The criminals of the Vision are a totally different matter – PasoliniSo I moved to a new country, a new city, and I have to admit I like it very much. The effect is not dissimilar to tearing your name off your face, to finally stumbling onto the secrets of archaic techniques of invisibility. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’ve been awake for several days. Invisibility being, in its simplest meaning, visibility amplified to the max. Anyway, when I first arrived I walked everywhere, at absolute random, sometimes with eyes closed, sometimes open. When you feel that alive, meaning not alive at all in any sense that you’ve become used to, meaning absolutely and utterly lost, well, the distinctions between dreams and sight, between whatever it is that waking and vision are supposed to be, become pretty much meaningless. For a long time I was simply scrambling around in the more popular parts of town. Not really sure, to be honest – I mean, they’re popular for a reason and its not necessarily one I’m particularly sympathetic with. So I started venturing further out to the strange external circles with the weird unpronounceable names – and by that I don’t mean unpronounceable simply to a person who doesn’t speak the language, but even to the people who live there. There are some strange red doors out there. Some pretty strange landscapes. For some reason I started thinking about Pasolini. To be specific, the scene at the end of Theorem, where the father – having given his factory away to the workforce, and then having tried and failed to pick up a boy at a railway station, takes off his clothes and wanders off into some strange volcanic or desert landscape and, as he enters that landscape, he screams. I was ranting on to a friend a few days ago that I take that scream to contain all that is meaningful in the word ‘communism’ – or rather, what it is that people like us mean when we use that word which is, as we both know all too well, somewhat different to whatever it is the dictionary of the visible world likes to pretend it means. You know what I’m saying. A kind of high metallic screech. Unpronounceable. Inaudible. I’m obsessed with Pasolini. I stuck a naked picture of him on my office wall earlier on today – it helps, it helps when I’m trying to think about that scream, about toxicity and audibility, about the weird silence I live inside right in the middle of the deafening din of this city I’ve convinced myself I might have come to love. Some academic once wrote of Pasolini that we “should turn down the volume on his political sermons and listen to what he whispered in his work”, which is obviously pretty stupid because the politics are precisely within those whispers or, rather, those barely audible screeches. I guess you must be familiar with his unfinished St Paul screenplay – the bit where he quotes Corinthians on “hearing inexpressible things, things we are not able to tell”. I got really obsessed with that for a while. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to disappear into some kind of cut-rate Cloud of Unknowing, or worse, some comfortably opaque experimental poetry. I mean, fuck that shit. In the last essay he wrote, Pasolini made it pretty damn clear what might be implied by “inexpressible things”, things “we are not able to tell”. It is names. “I know the names”, he wrote, in that essay published in 1974. The names of those who sit on the various committees. The “names of those responsible for the massacres”. The names of power. The forbidden syllables. The names of those whose names it is impossible to pronounce in certain combinations and continue simply to live. And obviously, this has very little to do with what certain idiots still call “magic”, which means it has everything to do with it. But anyway, I was thinking about all of this and all the while I kept walking further and further out of town, in wider and wider circles, until my own interior dialogue, if I can even be accused of having such a thing, seemed to come at me in a language I could no longer commit to, or comprehend, or even hear. Perhaps I could smell it. The limitations of the olfactory spectrum don’t get nearly enough attention in all the chatter we endure about the “theoretical senses”, logically deranged or not. But anyway. Things we are not able to tell. Inexpressible things. Accountability. Transparancy. Blah blah blah. Hölderlin called it the nefas. You know? Mystery cults and so forth. Revealing the secrets etc. The saliva of judges. Chewing on gristle and bone. And we could, if we wanted, I thought to myself, spinning round and round in 920 degree circles, we could translate that whole thing into geography, so those spittle-flecked unpronouncable syllables would become the sheer disks of unliveable landscape. The death-cell. The plague-pit. The city of the sun. Utopia. All of the dreams of all of those dry fuckers who neither believe nor remember their dreams. “For that is the tragic with us”, wrote Hölderlin, sometime before he wandered off into the mountains and had his head split apart by god knows what infernal statistic, “to go away into the kingdom of the living in total silence packed up in some kind of container, not to pay for the flames we have been unable to control by being consumed in fire”. Quite a metaphor, yeh? And one whose implications go further than anything Hölderlin would have been able to recognise. I mean, right now. “The kingdom of the living”. “Packed up in some kind of container”. “In total silence”. As the borders are going up. As the teeth are being sharpened. And as I walked I wondered whose “the kingdom of the living” was, and whose was that “total silence”, and if the inexpressible names that Pasolini had almost uttered were of that silence or not, and if those who had, or possessed those names, were of the living, or not. Because sometimes in Pasolini’s work, in the late work, it seems as if utopia itself is the necropole, a ring of slums, a circle around the city, a “force from the past”, tearing up the present, a fever-desert, coming from the future, at inexpressible distance, inconsolable. And that screaming factory owner, in the last scene of Theroem, was he screaming because he was entering the “kingdom of the living”, or because he was leaving it. I don’t know. It isn’t even a scream, not really. More a dead thing, a powder-rasp. And as I was thinking this I suddenly realised I was no longer walking, because there was nothing to walk on, or through, or anything. Vague impression of a ring of houses or bones. Vague sense I could enter into any one of them. That no-one would stop me. That I would be as invisible as any living person, as any corpse. That’s right. Rimbaud. Anyway. Like the bourgeois I am I went looking for a bus-stop. But I couldn’t find one, so like the person I used to be I lay down in the filth of the road and did my best to ignore whatever conformist signals the stars were trying to throw my way. As in, none whatsoever. Like a rough and aged bedlam sheet. The wage relation. The pennies on my eyes. And the sun coming up. Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe someone had smashed it. Like the blinded eyesight of the living has been smashed. Like the ‘total silence’ of Hölderlin, ecstatic and packed with noises, has been smashed. But whatever. It seemed I was sitting on a bench somewhere, with some old guy, sharing a beer with him, all thin and vacant bone, and the language we were using wasn’t English or German or whatever the fuck language a person is supposed to use in this the kingdom of the living or this the kingdom of the dead and, well, I was ranting on to him about Pasolini, about how in the last interview Pasolini gave, just hours before he died, he did admit to a belief in magic and how that magic was not simply in knowing how to pronounce the so-called unpronounceable names but, more to the point, in knowing how to translate those names into sheer anger, which means the knowledge of how to inhabit the word “no”, its landscape and its geography. Not of course the pinched “no” of border-guards and the rest. But “no” as in the opposite of the sun. And I don’t know if I was even using words at all, or just some kind of structure of barely audible screeches, but I was still going on about Pasolini, about his poem “Victory”, where he has the bodies of the Partisans crawling out from their graves and marching, with all the silence of that simple word “no”, into the cities below. Horrified by what they find there, by the residue of what they thought they died for, they turn around, clamber back into their holes in the earth. And though its a poem of great bitterness and defeat it still carries within it a sense of how to continue, of how not to capitulate, in the face of whatever it is that is breaking our names apart, our names, shattering them, until their meanings change into something terminal and alien, alien as the pitiful groan I mumbled as I stood up and staggered back to my temporary flat in one of the more fashionable areas of this hopelessly gentrified and haunted city. I did a shit-load of speed, stared into space for a while, then wrote you this. Hope you don’t mind that I haven’t been in touch for so long. We are not completely defenceless. We have not yet been consumed in fire.

 

The Chorus is on Fire (improvisations on poems by Katerina Gogou / abandoned notes on Pasolini)

Pasolini’s utopia is the necropole, what Hölderlin called the nefas. It is a counter-sickness, a naked factory-owner screaming in the desert, a force from the past tearing up the present because it comes from the future. History is invisible, is exclusion and contagion.

A ring of slums encircles the city, as inexpressible distance, measurable only in light years. Memory etched in the boarded up windows, the promises that business will be resumed presently. ASAP becomes ACAB. Bitterness perfected.


Is loneliness is. Not family photos. Not memorials not. Distance is. Loneliness is. Queuing for food and. Crackling of bone and. Hanging of meat and. Calais is. The border is. Loneliness is. Yellow fire is. Glassing the present is. Not you not. Blood clots not. Bruises not. Prisons not. Hatred is. Hatred is. Without a passport is. Not melancholic is. Bought and sold and. Yes wakes up early and. Yes cleans your office is. Not your self-pity is. Nine to a room is. Not your cocaine is. Drowns in transit is. Counting of wounds is. Dances on tables is. Is loneliness is. Planets of glass is. Whirling is whirling is. Knives of glass is. Over your head is. Swirling is swirling is swirling

But the possible which steps into reality, as reality dissolves, this has a real effect, and it effects both the sensation of the dissolution and the memory of that which is dissolved. – Hölderlin

Open the door and give me money.
I haven’t moved. You can still find me
But years have passed and my nails are jagged and filthy
And I frighten my friends and my mind has
Vanished. I left it here. I can’t find it.
And when I hear my name I become afraid
They want me to betray you. They want me to lie.
And I’m frightened of the voices because the voices lie
They say they shot you in the legs
I know they never aim at legs
They shoot you in the mind.
Keep it together. Keep moving.

If, for Pasolini, fascism is the dream of death that, in emergency, becomes capital’s raw force and keeps it alive, then communism is that which scrapes and wheezes at its edges, is the death encoded in traces of historical memory. But this is a commonplace. Metaphor as fixed lie. Metaphor as catastrophe. Pasolini’s era is further from us than Hölderlin’s ever was. The shift in epochs is the nefas. We pass over without noticing. This is the meaning of the illness of St. Paul. The struggle is not, as both Walter Benjamin and Frank Wilderson have claimed, between the living and the dead, but between the dead and the dead. Dead history and dead future: a showdown between the desert and surveillance camera. In Mathew, the devotional is suffocating, is crazed with starvation, fear and atrocity. The disciples have flies crawling on their faces in every scene. Malediction is realism.

God has chosen precisely what does not exist in order to reduce to nothing what does exist – St Paul

Someone has taken our knives. We go down like the sun. Place of birth. Unknown. They have scratched away our slogans. Colour of eyes. Unknown. We go down like hail and rain. Year of birth. Fuck it. Next time they shoot us, we’ll refuse to die. Its raining again. Give me a cigarette.

Some academic once wrote of Pasolini that we should “turn down the volume on his political sermons and listen to what he whispered in his work”, which is obviously pretty stupid, as the politics are precisely within those whispers. In the St Paul screenplay he quotes Corinthians, on “hearing inexpressible things, things we are not able to tell”. And in his final essay he makes it clear what those “inexpressible things” are; they are names. The names of those responsible for massacres, the names of the owners of power as it exists behind known power. Names that it is impossible to recite and still live. This has very little to do with what is still called ‘magic’.

In this arena we’re pushed along like some strange and dark army in which some carry cannons and others carry crowbars – Pasolini


We are being followed. They are hunting us, are mostly silent. Lines of them, they are hunting us. Their sentences, relatively simple. Our hunters, our educators. It is very simple. We don’t mention the silence. What we keep inside our whispers. In our signals, in our silence. As each of their faces change. As each of their cells divide. In great procession, the faces. Their lessons are endless. Silence, in circles, our hunters. As if we were dogs. As if we barked at strangers. And now they will murder. There is safety in murder. Somewhere are angels. Angels have claws. Dogs are everywhere.
Here come the evictors
They’ve got us by the hair and throat
And bound us with it, bound us
To the floor and the bed, all of us
This is the way they put up the rent
The rent changes, the names change
Our names change, the street’s names
40 degrees in the shade
Next time they shoot us, fire back
Meanwhile, the Chorus, weirdly absent in Pasolini’s interpretations of Greek myth, but who for Hölderlin could speak “almost in the manner of the furies”, are, put simply, the un-named. Those who eat dogs on the surface of the planet of slums, and scream out their names from the centre of the desert. And “chorus”, when spoken from within certain archaic accents, is almost the same word as “curse”.

 

_______________________________________

 abandonedbuildings

Gods of the Plague

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ALL THIS BURNING EARTH

The Literateur; Interview

 

 

Best books of 2017

Anna Mendelssohn; What a performance

[…]

__

Location:                  A Dark, Freezing Dungeon. England. Late 20th Century.

Political Climate:  The Depression.

Prisoner’s number:971226 ¹

flashbacks numerous.

 

 

assume dialogue except where obviously otherwise.

 

Go on write / I can’t write / You told me you could write / I could before I told you /
I didn’t tell you I could, I told you I /
I can’t say anymore, he’s armed with credentials and dangerous.²

Why bring back torture? Because it is continuing / […]

Never speak to another poet. Never breathe a word about your plans. Don’t be kind. Don’t care. They’ll only think you want something. If you have style, they’ll think you have money. They’ll stop you in the street and tell you to get the hell out if you don’t have a decent place to live in. They say they are permanently poor but they won’t understand why you are not on the phone, why your name isn’t in the book. You won’t tell other poets because they will be manipulating against you in another way. They will reinforce any old current theory. People with radical pasts are not invited to dinner. People will warn their children against you, and your children, they will also warn your children against you. You do not ask to be born therefore you do not have the right to live. Never voice radical opinions, you may be mistaken for an activist. A poet cannot be an activist. This is England remember. You can be gucci-voiced and you may get away with it, don’t jolt, don’t drive, don’t paint, don’t read, don’t bear children, don’t smile, you act.

Nothing which happened before is still happening. You can fly anywhere in the world. Your old comrades have given you writing work to do.

It’s too late now.

__

[…]

She walks blind. She walks in the night. I slept on the concrete floor. I gave her my bed. They had put her in with me for the night because they thought she was on the verge of suicide. She had been in MI5. Special Agent to Russia and China. She was involved in a car accident. In China. She saw the whole of her life flash before her eyes. She had not been killed. But she had been trained to kill. She had had to kill a man. Shot him dead. She was caught up in the horror of this act. She had left MI5. Resigned from her job. Her father was a magistrate in a sleepy Suffolk town. She kept bees & was an expert on wild flowers. She wrote for Nature magazine. She had been married to a navy man. It was from the navy that she was transferred to MI5. She voted Conservative. We had fun in the General Election. Was it 1974? Me in my cell, she in hers. Every victory for the Tories she’d rap on the walls. Every victory for Labour I’d rap on mine. Neither of us could vote. Prisoners are barred from voting. I wanted my electoral rights in there. I wanted them like mad. We saw where the suffragettes had been imprisoned. Their cells were even tinier than ours. They were no longer in use. If prisoners were given the vote it would confront the lack of education that most of them suffer from. Lack of education personalises emotion to an obsessive, often petty extent. Badly or poorly educated people become trapped inside their emotions because they lack the intellectual tools which would help them to objectify. This is why there is so much self-mutilation in prison. Women thrust their hands through the glass panes between the bars. They then take a shard or two and slash their arms or their vaginas or both. The authorities call it attention seeking.

__

[…]

Chorus

The new girlfriend prompted them. We want to know exactly what you have done. No you can’t give a talk at college about long-term imprisonment. No you can’t go back to your old university the one you stopped from getting bombed, the one you stopped from giving confidential talks to an exclusive number of physicists on the qualities and advantages of chemical and biological weapons.³ Join agent orange join agent orange, there was no organisation by the name of agent orange before you started the rumpus over government patency of napalm, no matter that you read coleridge ed dorn philip lamantia richard brautigan tristan tzara arp huelsenbeck camus sartre simone weil anne waldman sang arias made us smile talked us through our boyfriend troubles kept our secrets were devastated at the news of Stuart’s death in the crash, was brutally assaulted by the mad ginger the next day, didn’t know where on earth you were nor why he suddenly took against you, you, our zen, our café poet who had too much imagination to live alone, who was pursued through windows, followed in the street, who wanted to be mousy with size four feet, why did you not STOP yourself loving people?⁴ We were told to stop loving you so that you too would stop loving people. We have heard that in your dreams you agree to having committed all the crimes that humanity has ever been accused of: adultery, violence, treachery, treason, betrayal, incest, murder, suicide, picking roses to stick in your hair, refusing to be intimate with anyone, …what are you afraid of? That you will become someone’s subject instead of their equal? You can’t keep going around moaning about the bourgeoisie you know. It just is NOT done. Why didn’t you understand that it was actually YOU who was standing in the dock on trial with seven other people. You were NOT Alice in Wonderland:“ […]

INTERLUDE

It’s very silly to believe that there is any such body as the bourgeoisie. It is a word which needs to be eradicated from our language, and from French too, because it sounds very similar in French. It’s GREED really which makes the materially deprived hanker after perfume by Patou, it’s obnoxiousness which makes them want to dissolve in mid-air when someone who might be a friend says “Hi. I’m dashing to catch the plane to a skiing holiday, should see me through Easter.“ It’s BORING to know anyone who doesn’t do EXCITING things. Socially Functioning people must guard their Image. You may as well know that Socially Functioning people are working hard at producing the ultimate version of proletarian ardour, and it SINGS with HOLES in it.

__

[…]

In the vernacular

Half the time you (meaning the voice here) are starting from such a basic position you might almost be reiterating your father’s voice. Day in and day out, that is all we heard. It was either this or that. That’s the pain. You go so low defending those worse off than yourself, refusing chance after chance because he refused to move, it was the lowest rung of the ladder for him, out of principle, and you thought you were obeying a commandment to stay at the bottom too. You hated yourself every time there was a cause for celebration. You became a misery guts, just like him. You were arrested without a pair of shoes to your name. You owned one dress. They hated each other too, after their arrest: The Baader-Meinhof.⁵ This is not helping. “Get it out of you,“ she said. “You NEED to get it out.“

“But there’s no-where I can get it out to“ […] And on it goes. You met women who had been charged with child murder in there. You saw the terror in the eyes of one. You taught the other how to read and to write. She used to come up to you and stroke your sleeve. It gave you the creeps, but you could not say anything, just move your arm away. It just should not be that your child sees you crying. Lorca understood that, hugging and holding the child so close, afraid for them. Belief in fate is a terrible thing. It wishes the worst on people. I was lucky, I liked my children immediately. […]

Obedience

Forbidden to swear at one’s mother and father. When they are driving you so crazy you run away to hide and they come after you like mad folk, you can hear them calling your name and you keep very still as though they were the enemy who might ride by too quickly to notice you with your back flat against the nook in the wall. You have only to open your mouth for them to jump down it full force. Time may not be linear although conversation often is. With practice you can visualize the words which are coming out of someone’s mouth, this takes away the pain of what they are saying and in an odd way, depersonalizes it.

You had to do exactly waht she said the monent she asked it. Action was her panacea.

Explain this: it is true that I feared Hitler was still alive and would one night put his hand on the inside of the transit window, carefully lift the handle and open the main window. This fear materialized itself in another direction. I dreamt of my father dressed as a pirate stealing in through the opposite window which was always locked.

__

[…]

 

we know it is wrong to talk
about imprisonment. the predominant theory is
still that people have more right to complain
for example about the imprisonment of the
woman in marriage, or the imprisonment by
harsh social conditions even when the
person has done nothing wrong. Because
there is such little chance to explain how
an individual can undergo severe punishment
which can extend beyond the more acceptable
forms of social punishment into the realms
of more socially unacceptable forms of social
punishment, I think that I might be justified
in writing down some of my perceptions.
They are disorganised and scattered. Some
are uninteresting to write, they are not
what I consider to be, in any way, imaginative.
They tell a story whose end is inevitably
tied to its beginning. There is a horrendous
resentment and caution in responses to
an imaginative treatment of Time. Having been
brought up by Orthodox Jews and Freemasons,
I have never understood why esoteric knowledge
should be man’s domain: I was forbidden to
learn the tonal inflections which are marked
in the Torah, yet I received first prize
in the last year I was allowed to learn Hebrew
from the Chief Rabbi, as the most promising
Hebrew scholar. People mess you about. There
are plenty of stupid rules. If peple who
criticize me don’t have the guts to citicize
some of the rules extant they can’t expect
my appraisal. If they insist on using one
official interpretation of my past against me,
all I can think is that they are sadists who
delight in the thought of my death. Women
who hang out together like som many giggly
school girls, did they never have a chance to
be in a gang? Why aren’t one or two serious
friends enough for them? Do they really think
they are making good use of their time by
analysing for the umpteenth time stupid
womens’s magazines? Images and images: fit
for collage which shows the contradictions
and the CRUELTY of judging on the grounds
of Appearance. The shirt swallowed the rose.

 


¹ In 1986, Mendelssohn writes that after prison, “she wanted to stay in the dark, ask for nothing from people outside. live in the hell, with no outside visitors“
² Mendelssohn contributed to Angry Brigade communiqué 12, writing three lines demanding that the British ruling classes exit Northern Ireland. She states that she did so under duress. (Mendelssohn’s account is consistent with urban guerilla practices, whereby group participation in illegal activities is enforced so that culpability is shared. In her trial closing speech, Mendelssohn articulated her opposition to the politically ineffectual violence of bombing. Mendelssohn’s resistance to all violence is an archival refrain.
³ Founded in 1964, Essex quickly became a notoriously radical university, and in May 1968, was shut down by an escalating student protest against physicists visiting from Porton Down, Britain’s renowned military research institute. Mendelssohn often recounts how images of Vietnamese women and children burned by napalm triggered her political activism. Alumnus Chris Ratcliffe recalls Mendelssohn being highly involved in anti-Vietnam campaigns.
⁴ „Stuart“ was one of Mendelssohn’s Essex boyfriends. Mendelssohn credits his sudden death, and one or more physical assaults, with emotionally unmooring her when she moved to London in 1970.
⁵ Ulrike Meinhof exerts a hold over Mendelssohn. In an early nineties memoir, Mendelssohn states that unlike Meinhof, she was never flirtatious toward violence, or involved in gun running and drug dealing. But in C/34, she recalls being at Holloway and hearing that Meinhof was found dead in prison:“I thanked god or whatever that I was still alive. I felt her death very keenly.“

 

Notes & Copyright by Sara Cranks (Sussex Research Online). Thanks!

 

Kirill Medvedev; On Literature & Libya is Serbia

ON LITERATURE
[POEMS]

Everyone knows that the Lit. Institute trains writers,
but everyone also knows that the only ones who become writers
are those who got thrown out
of the Lit. Institute.

Or, at the very least, were outsiders there.

But there is
one particular writer there,
a kind of anti-hero,
a small man of middling talent
but insatiable will to power.

He is dictatorial when he needs to be,
and groveling when that is more appropriate.

He is, when necessary, a patriot
(and how many little insects are dining out
these days
on their newfound patriotism!).

I left the Lit. Institute a long time ago
but I keep up with the gossip.

This particular person never did me any harm,
one time during an oral exam he said
something to the effect of:
“How is it that you write for the magazine
International Literature
but say such ridiculous things during this exam?“

And he was right!!
Not long ago it became clear
that this man was about to become the president
of the Lit. Institute, and finally the faculty and students
got together and made sure
this didn’t happen.

The publishing house of the Lit. Institute put out his book of stories,
but that wasn’t the thing —
the thing isn’t what he tells about himself
but what he is.
Sergei Petrovich Tolkachev,
a short man, forty years old,
a fully formed, if, of course, second-rate literary type,
sitting at a college, preparing second-rate writers,

I sometimes recall the Lit. Institutes, this separate world,
it’s no worse and no better than other worlds,
and those who run the place,
and those unhappy ones who leave it only when they’re dead,
and those honest and brilliant ones, who get kicked out,
and those honest and weak ones,
who stay —

I see them all together in one place
as if on a separate creased page
of my life.

§

I’m standing here turning the pages
of a book by a young Petersburg poet,
with a funny kind of aggravation,
and sympathy,
with some slight irony.
I watch the things
this city makes,
no ones is as close to the source of poetry,
to the world’s ice,
attached to it through some special,
if seriously polluted,
pipeline.
I didn’t think I could still take pleasure
in the cold harmony
of the world,
from the only possible right combination of words —
standing here, turning over these sweet conservative verses,
which you need to read
over tea, with milk,
in a bathrobe (!) (?),
and imagine yourself
in a hungry city,
a cold city during the war,
with the books of your favorite poets,
wondering which of them to throw
in the stove for heat,
and which to exchange
for some bad herring and a loaf of bread.

and then to find yourself in a hungry
city, in a cold building,
and imagine yourself sitting
with tea, and milk,
in a bathrobe,
turning the pages of your favorite book,
and taking pleasure
from the cold hopeless harmony,
form the gentle melodious word-picture,
from the only possible right combination of words.

in short, everything’s all right with this book,
and “Denis Sheremetyev,“
is, of course, the only possible right name
for its author.

so everything’s all right, but —
but what?

no, no, no, everything’s all right.

but still, maybe,
something’s missing?
no, nothing’s missing.

maybe the problem is that
I’m turning the pages of this book
in a store that got blown up a few days ago
and still smells like dried fish,
and everywhere, on the tables, on the shelves,
you can see the edges of burned books?

no, that’s not it.

art, as we know, is higher
than all that.
actually, I don’t believe that,
but for now, so that this poem
works out,
I believe it.

and this book’s a little burnt too, actually,
but it’s okay, see, it survived.

so everything’s all right.
although, maybe the fact that
everything’s all right is the problem?
no, that’s not a problem.

or maybe it’s that when everything’s all right,
that just doesn’t sit well with me?
no, it sits well.

(then what the hell?)

§

I’ve seen crumbling ridges,
and sea ports, and terrible towns.
but an asshole like you
that’s someting new.

a man who hires a prostitute
gives her more than he pays,
and she gives him more
than he pays her.

then where does the surplus go,
why are they both cheated?

it doesn’t go anywhere, actually, it just disappears,
it melts into their mutual kindness,
it burns
in their feast of kindness and self-sacrifice,
and that’s why in the morning there’s frustration —
hysterics, anger —
she wants someone who won’t
pay anymore,
and he wants someone who would
only take —
and each of them needs some pressure —
egoism or cruelty,
their own or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter,
but so that one of them would get it,
so that one of them would be satisfied.
this is called: “I need love“
the kind that causes pain,
that causes music
music plays
and the one who’s going to sell her tomorrow,
that is, in essence, the pimp, the seller,
he knows her better than anyone, and loves her selflessly.
a pretty girl hands out cigarettes near the metro,
but smiles at me for free —
and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.
and only me, I’m the only one who thinks
everything’s bought and paid for,
I’m the only sad asshole who thinks that,
even if not everthing’s bought and paid for yet,
not everything’s stamped out,
even if you can still win some kind of prize,
it’s still going to turn out
to be a boot full of someone else’s bad wine.

__

oh, I know why I have so many bones to pick with you
my friends:
you’re naive, and so pure,
you’re blameless;
and I wanted to take your sins upon my head
(if only you’d had some).


LIBYA IS SERBIA
[POEMS]

Volunteer

It’s just I didn’t have very much doing
it’s just they weren’t paying my salary
it’s just I really wanted adventure
it’s just the homeland was in danger.
I left behind my wife and my daughter:
this I remember clearly.
We walked through hills and forests.
It was like the summer camp I attended yearly.

Sometimes we shot at our own men.
(You sometimes shot your own men.)
Sometimes we called for peace.
We had a gray-brown-and-white ribbon.
In the black-white-and-brown silence
in the dark-brown-and-brownish silence
I put a swastika on my lapel.
People in black destroyed my body

they ripped the swastika off me
there’s a hole in the spot where my heart was
a piece of shrapnel tore through me.
It must have been the Chechens who did it to me.

Libya is Serbia

Down with false peacemaking
say the backseat political analysts
“yes yes,” says a man who’s lost his hearing from the shelling

look, it’s your daughter, she’s in Syria now
she’s sick. But it’ll be ok.
And we’ll seek vengeance.
Because Libya is Serbia.

And you yourself are sick
and you’re not going to get better, my friend,
because progress is inexorable
that is, no matter how much you try to exorcise it
it won’t reach you anyway.

Because you’re pining for the past, my friend,
pining for the past
you’re pining for the past
which is free only in a mouse trap

You should look around instead
at the sea, the wind, the wheat
look at the stars,
the girls, all the beauty,

Look at me, your television host,
and understand once and for all that peace is impossible.

Facebook 

It’s only on Facebook that everything is great for me
good photos from beautiful places
interesting thoughts, journeys, respect from my many friends,
any American college would take me
but in real life everything’s different:
just an unstructured waste
the same coffee shops
my parents always bugging me
I couldn’t afford my own place
my intellectual labor isn’t protected
intellectual property isn’t protected
the men I know are boys, ugly but aggressive
I know some nice ones, but I’m still almost always unsatisfied
and somehow I feel like it’s my fault
and to hell with it, but here as with everything
you feel you have to confront the endless resistance of shit
the endless resistance of shit.
That’s how it is offline. But you wouldn’t know it from my Facebook.
I’ve always been able to talk about things like this without shame
but it’s bad to be whining all the time.
Russia, Russia, my homeland is sick.
I want to sign up for the heavenly host. ¹


¹ A reference in part to the “heavenly hundred,” the men and women who died on Maidan during the anti-government protests in Kyiv early in 2014.

In winter of 2014, a mass protest movement in Ukraine overthrew its president, Viktor Yanukovych. Medvedev and his friends in Moscow hab been watching events carefully, with excitement and also wariness. On the one hand they were witnessing a revolution against a nasty regime; on the other hand the revolution was taking place under the banner of neoliberal politics and right-wing nationalist symbology. Whatever you thought of the result, its significance could not be denied. „For the second time in ten years,“ Medvedev wrote at OpenLeft.ru, a new leftist website, „Ukraine has revolutionized the minds of the Russian intelligentsia.“ Over the course of the next year, as Russia first annexed Crimea and then sent military equipment and personnel into eastern Ukraine, Medvedev repeatedly spoke out against the Russian invasion, even as he continued to be skeptical of the new regime in Kyiv and its many oligarchic and right-wing friends. The poems in this section are from summer of 2014.

 

—Translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen

 

Adiatur 2016 Day 3 3: Kirill Medvedev in conversation with Rasmus Graff from Audiatur on Vimeo.

 

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Pavlensky

Pavlensky sentenced for „Freedom“

On May 19, 2016 Petr Pavlensky, a Russian artist, was sentenced to a year and four months of imprisonment for his happening titled “Freedom”. However, Pavlensky won’t serve the sentence as the case was deemed to be outdated. This happened even though from the very beginning, Pavlensky disagreed  with such a classification, because – as he claimed – “one has to take responsibility for one’s acts”.  In the justification of the sentence, the judge emphasized that Pavlensky “cynically abused moral norms” and that the damage caused by him amounts to twenty seven thousand rubles (over 360 Euros).

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Solidarity with Maidan
Pavlensky’s case has been dragging on for two years now. The Freedom happening took place on February 23, 2014. Three days after the riots involving bloodshed on Maidan in Kiev, resulting in seventy-five fatalities, Pavlensky and a group of several people staged a happening in which they struck metal sheets with sticks, surrounded by Ukrainian flags, and burnt tires on the spot where an assassination attempt on Tsar Alexander II occurred in 1881. In this way, he imitated the protesters from Maidan, who had, on the day preceding Pavlensky’s happening, pressurized President Victor Yanukovych to step down. Yanukovych fled to Russia, where he remains until today.

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Beating in police convoy
Before the sentence was announced by the court a few days ago, Pavlensky got beaten up during his detention in custody in a building adjacent to the Moscow Magistrate. “Every breath causes pain” – he wrote to his partner, Oksana Shalygina. He added that he suffered a knee injury as well as a fractured rib and internal bleeding. Pavlensky maintains that this is a standard practice in custody. Similarly to use of tasers, and beatings both with hands and truncheons. “Petr experienced that as well” – said Shalygina, while speaking to Radio Svoboda.

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The information about the beatings was passed on to Shalygina together with acceptance Pavlensky’s speech to be presented at the ceremony of the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent, which will be presented to Shalygina on his behalf.

The prison doctor who examined Pavlensky obviously did not report any injuries.

“Let him go to Ukraine”
The trial abounded in unusual events. At the end of April, during a session regarding Freedom, several prostitutes turned up as defense witnesses. Pavlensky revealed to have paid them to appear before the court. Although they were defense witnesses, they criticized his happening and called him a vandal. As the portal Media Zona reported:

Do you consider Petr Pavlensky an artist? Dmitrij Dinze, the artist’s lawyer, asks the witness Jelena Posadski.
– In a sense, I do, it’s self-expression, but it should be performed in a closed space.
– Do you believe this happening to be street art?
– No.
Later the witness, answering a question from the prosecutor, commented: If he wants to commemorate those killed on Maidan, let him go to Ukraine.
In a letter to Shalygina published by Radio Svoboda, Pavlensky explains why he paid prostitutes to turn up in court. “Whether you like it or not, there is no difference between prostitutes, judges, prosecutors, teachers, managing directors and clerks. They are all the same. The political reality defined all of them and put them all in their place”.

From the very beginning, the authorities, who do not realize their own involvement in Pavlensky’s art projects, have played a crucial role. “The authorities always remain the key actor of Petr’s happenings”, said Shalygina to Dziennik Opinii, commenting the trial that was initiated after the happening Danger, in which Pavlensky set fire to the door of the seat of the Federal Security Service, the ill-reputed Lubyanka. “Now Petr has managed to penetrate the system of surveillance mechanisms even further. I believe that thanks to this trial, we will obtain ample material including surprising information”.
It is because of the latter case that Pavlensky will remain in custody.

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This article appeared on POLITICAL CRITIQUE (May 20, 2016)

Images © Pyotr (Petr) Pavlensky