marching to the tin drum

If one looks into the abyss , can you be able to hold the stare? To test the strength of he gaze? Or, as Nietzsche said, will the abyss look back at you and in that case who will flinch first? You can only look for so long before almost imperceptibly, magnetically, you are drawn to the edge, then to the lip, before falling into the predetermined very unpleasant known unknown. But this abyss, is this the rage of unconscious human automatism beyond comprehension and control, an unstoppable force of destruction. Or, to get at that edge, have we not been merely shaped by politics, and by “free will” being actors as the continuation of policy by other means?

Dali. The Warrior. ---Alibi for militarist interventions, sacralization for the tyranny of the market, ideological foundation for the fundamentalism of the politically correct: can the ‘symbolic fiction’ of universal rights be recuperated for the progressive politicization of actual socio-economic relations? Image:

Max Weber defined the state as “the rule of men over men based on the means of legitimate, that is allegedly legitimate, violence”. Benjamin adds organized labor to the nation state as the only legal subjects entitled in Europe to exercise violence. The many forms of violence sanctioned and reserved by the state for the state include militarism, conscription, the death penalty, and so on. On the theme of revolution, Benjamin teaches us to think of it as a specific kind of violence directed towards a law-making or law-positing function….

Yue Minjun---We wish to glorify War -- the only health giver of the world -- militarism, patriotism, the destructive arm of the Anarchist, the beautiful Ideas that kill, the contempt for woman. We wish to destroy the museums, the libraries, to fight against moralism, feminism and all opportunistic and utilitarian meannesses. F. T. Marinetti, "Initial Manifesto of Futurism," February 20, 1909---

Which brings us back to war and its nihilistic subtext. The idea of Clausewitz is a simple one: war is the continuation of policy, and not an activity in itself. Somehow, in the modern age, Freud and the aesthetics of surrealism with its slow waltz through the madhouse locked apartments of the mind became an outhouse of explanations to leave treated in a sphere where there was no sewage. Stinking to high hell, war became linked to psychic self-gratification, an intrinsic lust for combat, the castration complex, the death drive, the martyr gene and so on that reaches like strolling bacteria in the Paris arcades into the secret places of the individual heart infecting the soul with the cult of the eternal weapon.

…The new distinction Benjamin introduced in the “Critique of Violence” is between what he calls the mythic violence needed by the activity of law-making, and the law-preserving violence needed to maintain a state (or a state-of-affairs) created by the first kind of violence. Mythic violence is a manifestation of the power of fate over the human. Fate personified and pluralized gives us the gods, as in Greek myth, and the narratives we invent for these pagan gods are a way of humanizing the inscrutable force exercised over us and our puny freedom, a violence whose endurance is our destiny. Benjamin opposes this system with the Judaic-Messianic, in which true justice is promised and delivered in divine endmaking.Read More:

---Margaret Bourke-White, Portrait of Hungary's War Minister Gen. Eugen Ratz wearing most of his 19 medals he won during WWI, 1938---:Zizek:This is increasingly emerging as the central human right of advanced capitalist society: the right not to be ‘harassed’, that is, to be kept at a safe distance from others. The same goes for the emergent logic of humanitarian or pacifist militarism. War is acceptable insofar as it seeks to bring about peace, or democracy, or the conditions for distributing humanitarian aid. And does the same not hold even more for democracy and human rights themselves? Human rights are ok if they are ‘rethought’ to include torture and a permanent emergency state. Democracy is ok if it is cleansed of its populist excesses and limited to those mature enough to practise it.---Read More: image:

It can even be affirmed that are near-naturalized ethno-religious conflicts best suit our current version of capitalism. After all, what else is there really to fight and squabble over where the perverse logic of commodity fetishism has to latch onto the trivialities of women in veils not permitted to wear metal tipped shoes or girls with sleeveless blouses on a Jerusalem bus. Again, are we fighting because  of a particular culture or sex, but because what we refer to as pathological crazies in anthropological terms  are really  instruments of reasoned and deliberate policy? If we want to understand war,  politics will inform us that the mystification of the war drive is generally and predictibly an apologia for militarism and not the populist prejudice that war is guided by the inhuman and the insane. However, it is pragmatic to deny any deliberate conceptions of modern warfare, since there has nothing to validate it.


Most central to Benjamin’s project is the critique of allegory, understood as a real religious position. In a surrealistic manner his position is close to the Cabalistic, lacking a positive religious faith. His pessimism discloses the presence of violent conflict between two tendencies: a positive optimistic utopian tendency and a pessimistic – the latter culminating in a negative utopianism and merging into the tradition of thought of Jewish redemption. His pessimism discloses the presence of violence within the continuity of “the whole time everything is the same” as a cosmic fate, a fate grounded in mystic necessity….

---Hu Ming. Zizek:Second, the view associated with Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment and, today, with Agamben. The ‘totalitarian’ bent of Enlightenment is inherent and definitive, the ‘administered world’ is its true consequence, and concentration camps and genocides are a kind of negative-teleological e

int of the entire history of the West. Third, the view developed in the works of Etienne Balibar, among others: modernity opens up a field of new freedoms, but at the same time of new dangers, and there is no ultimate teleological guarantee of the outcome. The contest remains open and undecided.---Read More:

…He regards reality as essentially tragic, jet not as a partial historical stage or as an accident, but as normality itself. “The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’, in which we live is not an exception, but a rule. The fact that “everything continues as usual” is the eternal “catastrophe,” which according to Benjamin discloses the boundless dominance of the mythical. This is the basis of the “Kafka-like situation,” which determines the subject as described in the article “Franz Kafka.” The “original sin” makes itself present at each moment in history, and according to Benjamin it turns out to be a reaction to the subject’s being a victim of cosmic injustice permanently directed against him.Read More:

John Singer Sargent. Gassed. ---The unstoppable-technology theories have the practical effect of denigrating politics, and absolving those responsible from blame. Wars do not start by themselves: they start because external political interests decide war is expedient to the powers that be. As the conservative British military historian Michael Howard rightly notes, "However inchoate or disreputable the motives for war may be, its initiation is almost by definition a deliberate and carefully considered act and its conduct...a matter of very precise central control. If history shows any record of accidental wars, I have yet to find them"--- Read More: image:

Zizek:Where, then, did the fundamentalist features—religious intolerance, ethnic violence, fixation upon historical trauma—which the West now associates with ‘the Balkan’, originate? Clearly, from the West itself. In a neat instance of Hegel’s ‘reflexive determination’, what Western Europeans observe and deplore in the Balkans is what they themselves introduced there; what they combat is their own historical legacy run amok. Let us not forget that the two great ethnic crimes imputed to the Turks in the 20th century—the Armenian genocide and the persecution of the Kurds—were not committed by traditionalist Muslim political forces, but by the military modernizers who sought to cut Turkey loose from its old-world ballast and turn it into a European nation-state. Mladen Dolar’s old quip, based on a detailed reading of Freud’s references to the region, that the European unconscious is structured like the Balkans, is thus literally true: in the guise of the Otherness of ‘Balkan’, Europe takes cognizance of the ‘stranger in itself’, of its own repressed.Read More:

Related Posts

This entry was posted in Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Modern Arts/Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>