hunger: pangs of freedom

The hunger for pure immanence. Or when the blending of realism and idealism becomes a kind of performance art, a “shock of the new” to use the Dadaist phrase, a disruptive force that effectuates art through the banal “ready-made” activity of putting food in one’s mouth and in the process creating fantasy out of ordinary reality.

( see link at end )…A female terrorist who was released in the Shalit deal in the fall and was recaptured in February, agreed to end a 43-day-old hunger strike on Thursday, after Israel agreed to release her. Hana Shalbi, a terrorist from the Islamic Jihad organization, was arrested by an IDF force at her home in the village of Burkin, west of Jenin, after Israel gathered” completely certain” intelligence information regarding her intent to return to terrorist activity….

---The artist trivializes his own behavior and he follows it to the end of his life, and yet the message is anything but trivial, and even more so, it is realistic. That he can’t find what he wants is no excuse to waste away the entirety of life, yet in the mind of the anorexic, the dark tunnel of starvation seems the only answer that works, while the whole of life bypasses them for other affairs that seem more important. Kafka’s Hunger Artist presents the ultimate reality, sadly, but truly enough, where the end result of depriving the body of the essential nutrients needed for survival is simple and clear: death.---Read More:

Franz Kafka’s A Hunger Artist, involves an artist who continues to engage in the act of willful starvation after the popularity for hunger artistry has faded from view. The meaning is ambiguous; a Jesus figure, a messiah who died for our sins, an elaboration of Baudelaire’s The Poet as Prostitute, as Fencer etc. A mystical act of sorts, the man occupies a cage in the circus and he is regarded with vague indifference. Because he is in a cage, it doesn’t matter. But it still matters some. The human being as a use value and exchange value by being exhibited. The moment the hunger artist is exhibited, we enter into the realm of technique of exhibition; of the staging of a product.

If the hunger artist was in his closet, no one would see him; but in the circus, surrounded by other oddities, he can be sold for something; something contextually based, and he becomes a sort of collectible. As if they put fifty year old used sneakers in a Saks window, wheeled them out every morning with some fanfare and ritual, people might want them as a “collectable” but in a Thrift they may go for 50 cents. …

The circus managers exclaims: What is that pile of dirty straw in the cage?  Lo and behold, at the bottom of a heap of straw they find the hunger artist near death.  The manager  for some reason tries to lift his morale by saying “we admire you.” The hunger artist responds that he shouldn’t be the object of admiration. He says that if he could have found food he liked, he would have stuffed himself like everyone else. The he dies only to be replaced by a panther who is only fed food that he likes, the man symbolically eaten by a panther of Babylon and that the man is a reflection of flesh, of cannibalism as the human condition and not wanting to be fattened for eating he “ethically” short-circuited the process.

Shalbi was originally arrested for terrorist activity in 2010. She refused to cooperate with interrogators and was violent towards them. This violence included threatening their lives, trying to attack one of them, spitting at police officers, and even biting a policewoman….

---...The case of the freedom fighter Khader Adnan reminds us of where the strength of the Palestinian people lies. This is the strength that was squandered and dissipated in the Oslo process and the pursuit of a state at the expense of national liberation. With his historic hunger strike and his heroic resolve in his fight against the occupying state, Adnan has reaffirmed an important principle of resistance to colonialist regimes:...Read More:

…Even though there was not enough evidence to criminally prosecute Shalbi, she was taken to administrative detention for six months because of the very reliable intelligence information that had been gathered and which tied her to terrorist activities. The arrest was upheld in all the courts, including the Supreme Court. Her administrative detention was extended several times and she was held for two years until her release as part of the Shalit deal….

It was assumed that Kafka’s story was given genesis by an actual  hunger artist named Giovanni Succi, who had some frief fame in the early 1890′s; rather than political, Succi thought he was possessed by a spirit that permitted him to live witho

ood. But is act was based on earlier medieval acts of unnatural starvation which also had a religious connection of reaching the spirit by diminishing the corporal dimension. In a sense, an atheism connected to some elements of the shakra. Perhaps. An other religious fasting, such as Gandhi to purify the soul; death being the ultimate reality of purification.

…As part of the agreement for her release on Thursday, Shalbi agreed to be deported to Gaza for a period of three years. After that time she will be allowed to return to Judea and Samaria. Shalbi is one of several PA terrorists in Israeli prisons who are hunger striking in an attempt to force the Prison Service to release them. Several self-described human rights organizations have called on Israel to consider releasing these terrorists.

Another terrorist, Khader Adnan, had gone a on a hunger strike for 66 days to pressure the State to release him. The hunger strike resulted in Adnan being admitted to hospital….

---Hana Shalabi has been on hunger strike for over a month. Her condition has been deteriorating so badly that prison officials had to transfer her to a Haifa hospital (though she wasn't admitted to the hospital). Shalabi is protesting being held in administrative detention. These detentions are quasi-legal action through which Israel incarcerates individuals without charge or proper trial. Israel inherited this undemocratic procedure from the British mandate, which enacted it as part of the 1945 emergency regulations.---Read More:

…He launched the hunger strike to protest his administrative detention and the strike became a cause célèbre for anti-Israel activists and Arab propaganda organizations. His attorney appealed his administrative detention order to Israel’s Supreme Court.

The State later caved in to the pressure and agreed not to renew Adnan’s administrative detention order. He, in turn, agreed to end his hunger strike and will be released on April 17.Read More:


Slavoj Zizek:Jesenska touches here Kafka at his Marxist best: a bourgeois subject knows very well that there is nothing magic about money, that money is just an object which stands for a set of social relations, but he nevertheless acts in real life as if he were to believe that money is a magic thing. This, then, gives us a precise insight into Kafka's universe: Kafka was able to experience directly these fantasmatic beliefs that we "normal" people disavow. Kafka's "magic" is what Marx referred to as the "theological freakishness" of commodities. If once upon a time we publicly pretended to believe, while, in our intimacy, we were skeptics or even engaged in obscene mocking of our public beliefs, today we publicly tend to profess our skeptical/hedonist/relaxed attitude, while intimately we remain haunted by beliefs and severe prohibitions.Read More: image:

After the publication of Kafka’s story, hunger artists became very common in Berlin and by 1926 there were at least six all fasting at the same time. These performers would sit in cages in the middle of the tables at fancy restaurants while those around them chowed down. I suspect that this uptick in hunger artistry was due to artists and students and other of the always hungry young who read or heard of the story and decided to appropriate it for their own purposes. Read More:

Kafka:During these last decades the interest in professional fasting has markedly diminished. It used to pay very well to stage such great performances under one’s own management, but today that is quite impossible. We live in a different world now. At one time the whole town took a lively interest in the hunger artist; from day to day of his fast the excitement mounted; everybody wanted to see him at least once a day; there were people who bought season tickets for the last few days and sat from morning till night in front of his small barred cage; even in the nighttime there were visiting hours, when the whole effect was heightened by torch flares; on fine days the cage was set out in the open air, and then it was the children’s special treat to see the hunger artist; for their elders he was often just a joke that happened to be in fashion, but the children stood openmouthed, holding each other’s hands for greater security, marveling at him as he sat there pallid in black tights, with his ribs sticking out so prominently, not even on a seat but down among straw on the ground, sometimes giving a courteous nod, answering questions with a constrained smile, or perhaps stretching an arm through the bars so that one might feel how thin it was, and then again withdrawing deep into himself, paying no attention to anyone or anything, not even to the all-important striking of the clock that was the only piece of furniture in his cage, but merely staring into vacancy with half-shut eyes, now and then taking a sip from a tiny glass of water to moisten his lips.

Besides casual onlookers there were also relays of permanent watchers selected by the public, usually butchers, strangely enough, and it was their task to watch the hunger artist day and night, three of them at a time, in case he should have some secret recourse to nourishment. This was nothing but a formality, instigated to reassure the masses, for the initiates knew well enough that during his fast the artist would never in any circumstances, not even under forcible compulsion, swallow the smallest morsel of food; the honor of his profession forbade it.Read More:


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