dreaming of one thing [subversive chronicle]

 

i said endurance has its limits people are made of flesh and bone / i spoke about the stalinists and the method of executing the very best as traitors / who died screaming long live the party! / sifis said / the statement is only the beginning. then they will ask who are your friends. / then where do they live.   
katerina gogou

 

i believe at heart that one must not be an accomplice to lies and compromise, the contemporary artist must scream out their revolt and make understood that we live in an unbearable, cruel, and hopeless world; and that if things do not change and a new consciousness emerge, humanity will ultimately destroy itself.   
josé revueltas

 

 

 

[1961/62]

# in december 1960 the french poet danielle collobert joined a militant group collaborating with the algerian resistance organisation fln in its struggle against colonial france. in her cahiers 1956-1978 she records her desire to leave, as soon as possible, before the resistance dies out, to flee from personal boredom + exhaustion. later the attempts during countless journeys, in which everything more + more resembles everything else, to lose herself. by all accounts, she smuggled weapons + money into algeria in support of the movement [porteurs de valises]. she does not reveal much about her involvement, keeping her experiences by and large to herself. imagination may be sufficient to picture what activities she was involved in. the mute screams. simply in order not to hear oneself. the blocked passageways to light. the boundless separation, the starting point no longer within view. who is speaking?

# collobert understands algeria as a real beginning to which she binds her hopes. but as early as february 1962 she declares her militant activism over + views it as having failed. she is forced to go into hiding for some time in italy [rome, then venice]. she goes, she departs, she cannot stop departing, to the point that departure, that disappearance, finds its fulfilment. a question of distance. her claustrophobia between the walls of the porte de vincennes, just as between those of a gallery where she worked for a while [and which hardly any visitors ever entered]. unable to take any more she observed events from the distance. while from the outset she was concerned with endings. the end of writing, of language, of life. in this not unlike the naysayers beckett or rimbaud. sensation, the access to routine things, was lost to her. life without a centre. isolated from the cries of others, the infection of self-inflicted wounds. erosion of time. places + travels becoming interchangeable, a kind of nomadism that she lives, a restlessness or disorientation in which the one is as good as the other [the hostility of things]. she misses the direct influence of political events. direct action, she writes, immediately justifies itself in its entirety. political struggle yields to inner struggle. the events in algeria have only intensified her feeling of disillusionment.

# at around the same time in paris, on the evening of 17 october 1961, while nearly 40,000 people march [following the call of the fln to protest a curfew that forbade algerians to leave their homes after 8.30pm], the security forces of the police + crs open fire on peacefully demonstrating men and women. throughout the city there are confrontations in which people are physically abused or killed [more than 50 algerians alone are driven into the inner courtyard of the prefecture + shot]. many of the victims are later thrown into the seine [dead, unconscious, or chained], paulette péju, ratonnades à paris, 1961/2000. the events were concealed + censored for decades. jacques panijel’s film, octobre à paris (fln, guerre d’algérie), 1962, work on which begins a day following the massacre, presents in documentary footage + interviews with demonstrators the victims of the police violence. this film, too, was subject to censorship for a long time. at least 14,000 people were then forcefully detained by the police for days in two sports stadiums.

 

 

[1970]

# carla lonzi, who was active for over a decade, especially as a critic of the italian neo-avantgarde, increasingly found fault with the rigidity + hegemonic form of art criticism [art is power!] + finally turning her back on it at the beginning of the 70s [although she continued to engage with its issues + allowed it to enter into her thoughts + studies] + throwing herself into the feminist movement that was just then emerging. her withdrawal + the profound changes in her relationships that resulted coincide with the writing of autoritratto — in which, abandoning her position as art critic, she rediscovers and reinvents herself through writing — the compilation of discussions with 14 artists working in various directions in italy, recorded on tape, transcribed + formed into a text based on the principle of montage, fragmented, non-hierarchical, experimental constructions of relational subjectivity, yielding a self-portrait. transcending literary genres. the death of the author proclaimed at the same time by roland barthes or michel foucault is understood by lonzi as an end to male dominance + as a subjectification of female authorship. together with carla accardi + elvira banotti she founds the radical feminist group rivolta femminile and, preceding from this, the publishing company of the same name. the first two titles are published :: sputiamo su hegel / let’s spit on hegel [which can principally be understood as a deconstruction of the dialectic of master + servant, the rejection of the patriarchy, in which women are oppressed for being women, not for their class affiliation, but owing to their gender / spitting as a gesture of disdain, a gesture that had previously been reserved for men alone] + la donna clitoridea et la donna vaginale / the clitoridian and the vaginal woman. the manifesto di rivolta femminile emerged out of a collective writing process and circulated in rome + milan. we seek the authentic in a gesture of revolt. man is no role model to which woman must align her self discovery. woman is the other in relation to man. her criticism of the exercising of institutional + personal power, the strange, complacent concept of effective political discourse. designs for experimental forms of writing + living. a central component of her work is the autocoscienza [self-consciousness]. my self-consciousness as a political subject emerges in the group, in an environment that allows collective, non-ideological experience. the focus turns to the revolutionary practice of subjectification of woman. in its practice of self knowledge, feminism drives another revolution that scrutinises the power of knowledge. the attempt to divest oneself of definitions + assignations. lonzi draws on forms of expression that are not necessarily noted for a sublime literary style, such as discussion, diary notes, or manifestos. scrutinises standardised usages of language + favours a method of uncertainty that does not place the work of the critic above that of the artist. as in art criticism, hierarchies must be abolished. somewhere we must begin to destroy the false identities that hang over we women like a shroud. in 1978 lonzi affirms in a letter to the magazine l’espresso that feminism has succeeded not owing to, but despite ’68. this would also include a corrective to the myths about male-dominated political groups + their struggles + disputes. according to the understanding of rivolta femminile, woman does not aim for equality with man, who accepts creativity only when it is linked to himself, rather it seeks the autonomous liberation of woman, who reflects upon her own forms of creativity + powers of expression. the alternative forms of female togetherness. a separatism [retreat from a male-dominated culture + the niches granted to men within it], within a process of mutual recognition. unmastered, woman becomes her own subject + creates possibilities for personal autonomy. in meetings taking place mostly in private residences, a new understanding of public + private space is imparted. in the alternation between speaking + listening. based on personal experience, self-affirmation + mutual recognition. out of this collective experience emerges the realisation of a political consciousness/subject.

 

 

[1949/50] 

# in il sogno di una cosa / dreaming of one thing pier paolo pasolini depicts the struggles + strike actions of a pre-industrial farming milieu [the dream of a revolutionary perspective / friulian heresies], conflicts with the carabinieri, the entry of workers + farmers into the pci against the backdrop of the ‘de gasperi’s decree’, which promised workplaces + subsidies for the unemployed + did not deliver / pasolini’s discovery of marx + gramsci [he is secretary of the communist section of san giovanni]. the title of the book refers to marx’s quotation :: hence, our motto must be: reform of consciousness not through dogmas, but by analysing the mystical consciousness that is unintelligible to itself, whether it manifests itself in a religious or a political form. it will then become evident that the world has long been dreaming of one thing,[pasolini misappropriates the second part of marx’s sentence, at the boundary between dream + reality, to avoid the actual possession of the dream / of daily pitfalls], of which it has only to be conscious in order to possess it in reality. [karl marx, letters from the deutsch-französischen jahrbüchern: marx to ruge, 1843]. the investigation of real conditions [the ruthless criticism of all that exists / the struggles of the workers’ movements], in which the people advance their consciousness. the sensation that everything is concentrated in the throat … + presses / vocalisations of misery. for marx the transition from radical democracy to proletarian communism occurred in 1843/44. because the proletariat, too, aims to dissolve itself as a class [the concept of a non-class and dissolution of the existing world order]. that which pasolini in his 1965 essay dal laboratorio: appunti en poète per una linguistica marxista / from the laboratory: notes en poète for a marxist linguistics calls an external revolution [that is, the marxist revolution], in the germination of a class consciousness that usurps power.

 

 

[1981]

# karen brodine, poet, activist + typesetter. writing about work is a form of sabotage. / stealing, another. running off my poems on the company xerox machine, or copying material about the union / saying the way things really are. the karen brodine papers (glc 191) [lgbtqia center, san francisco public library]. insights into an alienated, mechanised workday, into the endless diversity of capitalistic exploitation. designs for a resistant texture composed of a combination of writing, political actions + dreams. capillary excess. poetry emerges out of life’s non-poetic moments, while one’s hands glide over the keyboard. a surface made of thoughts + noises that turns to solid matter that one can touch + form. [women sitting at the machine, thinking. a series of work poems, 1990, red letter press]. activities of tiny circuits in which the spirit becomes entangled. the eye’s memory + sudden inspiration. swarms of black ants from calloused fingertips. and in the meantime, thinking about the work place and its noxiousness [exploitation/abuse]. the cathode rays of the xerox machine, the carcinogenic chemicals + vapours [brodine died at 40 from the consequences of breast cancer diagnosed too late]. anne boyer speaks in a handbook of disappointed fate of how a sick body yields more profit than a healthy, functioning one. the constant surveillance + control mechanisms [the clocking of work hours + breaks, the contractually legitimised humiliations]. atomised dysfunctions of ‘intelligent’ machines. resistance ⇠⇢ precariousness ⇠⇢ dependence. stories of systemic, routine discrimination. underpaid, precarious jobs requiring no special qualifications + preferably occupied by women. crises + illness make the rich still richer. brodine’s militantly marxist conduct, evoking rejection + silence, illustrate this forcefully. poetry refuses to be complicit with the ever-present world.

 

 

[1967/68]

# in 1967-71 a group of women workers at the rhodiaceta textile factory in besançon, calling themselves the groupe medvedkine after alexander medvedkin, the russian film-maker + inventor of the ciné-train [the ‘train of revolution’], make a series of extraordinarily militant films representing an intellectual confrontation with the workers’ struggles. they reject individual authorship + draw upon the heritage of factography [artworks as a factory of facts, see sergei tretyakov, art in revolution and revolution in art, 1923]. the collective arose from an encounter between chris marker + the film-production company slon. the background is a strike in which more than three-thousand women workers occupy the rhodiaceta factory [the first factory occupation in france since 1936] + demand not only a change in working conditions, but above all also access to culture, the denial of which they view as a mechanism to maintain class hierarchy. to overturn the separation between represented + representing, between producers + consumers. the film classe de lutte was made in may 1968 + shows the struggles of the young working woman suzanne zedet against prevailing patriarchal relations in a watch factory in besançon. the simultaneity of culture + workers’ struggles, the social meaning of poetry + art, that suzanne zedet discovers for herself. a poem, she will say, is just as important as political discourse.

# jean-luc godard + the dziga vertov group sought an answer to the question of what a ‘picture of the people’ would have to look like were it go beyond mere documentation, + in what way cinema would need to participate in the formation of society, with the solidarisation of the working class, without having to relinquish the differentiated formal language of avant-garde film [for godard, vertov embodied the synthesis of formal + political revolution]. the director saw in a film about the workers’ struggles an insurmountable problem, as the film maker would not be speaking the language of the workers. on the other hand, viewed from a technological standpoint, the workers certainly possessed the skills to make such a film. but godard feared they could unintentionally falsify their own experience.

# in la chinoise [1967] jean-luc godard shows the interplay of conception + realisation — un film en train de se faire — a marxism after the understanding of louis althussers [whose theoretical project to make marxism a science declined in reputation, however, following may ’68. ‘althu sert à rien’ / ‘althu serves nothing’ could be read on the walls of paris; see jacques rancière, la leçon d’althusser, 1974]. the rediscover of marxism as an ensemble of the most elementary, routine actions in the relation of practice + theory in the lives of a group of young students. althusser’s pedagogy + maoist rhetoric. the step from abstract thought to concrete political action. to be gleaned in :: althusser, preface to lire le capital :: that is, the need to rediscover and relearn the meaning of existence in the simplest gestures — in the ways in which we see, hear, speak, or read — since such gestures reveal the attitudes that people absorb and reflect in their deeds and their self-destructive apathy.

 

 

[1980]

# nanni balestrini published the poetical text blackout, whose starting point is the 25-hour blackout in new york on 13 july 1977. at 9:30 pm the lights went out at 9:40 pm they were already ravaging the shops. [looting understood as a form of income support + of political purchase that shows emphatically the desire for immediate satisfaction of needs]. blackout was originally meant to be performed with the sound artists, singer + activist demetrio stratos in milan’s rotonda della besana. but on 7 april 1979 a great wave of arrests by the italian state against the autonomia movement began. balestrini [co-founder of potere operaio + supporter of autonomia] learned from a newspaper report that he was being sought. since, however, the carabinieri perform their search in rome, rather than in his flat in milan, he is able to flee undetected across the alps and into france. demetrio stratos becomes severely ill + ultimately dies a short time afterwards.

# this poem should not be published because it is also a political manifesto. arranged according to the musical example of a classical sonata in four movements. a swansong to the political movements + their struggles in italy during the 1970s, the altercations within the universities, the strikes + acts of sabotage in factories, the uprising of the masses in the streets. the unmasking of state terror + its secret services, the collapse of the constitutional state of which toni negri speaks. a new concept is emerging it is the concept of direct counterpower. each of the four chapters is introduced with a definition of a blackout [1. loss of memory 2. the extinguishing of all stage lights to end a play or scene 3. suppression censorship concealment 4. a momentary loss of consciousness or vision]. its strict formalistic composition, every page with two thematic fields that always follow on from what precedes, results each time in new combinations that are developed on the pages that follow + which draw upon 18 sources. tema con variazioni. quotations from newspapers + books, media transcripts. cut-up + remix of the material of words. fragmentation + multiplication of perspectives. deconstruction of relationships. the polyphonous sounds + calibration of their effect on one another + their conveyance into an intertextual collage. the shift between light + darkness. beginning with the description of the gleamingly bright panorama of the mont blanc massif. the infiltration of the text. in the spaces of a creative disorder. fragments are arranged with the help of a patchwork model according to formal rules. of a structure of repeating leitmotifs. shifts between time levels + forms. pictures of individuals than merge into a community. evocation of a  collective identity. as in may 1968 and only recently declared null and void. discontinuous developments. we try again and again. with different words or forms. permanent breaches in a flood of possibilities. an insurmountable resistance [of the communism of the masses]. the explosion of the hundreds of thousands of voices. mayakovsky’s one-hundred and fifty million of a lip-signal system. the synchronicity of events, of emotions. lines or fragments that free themselves from their textual bonds, subsequently enter into new alliances, the constitution of a community through poetic logic. the world + its conditions were written all along. irreducible resistance, longing for a revolt. the (re-)creation of a world at the moment of its explosion. balestrini’s work is the mapping + reviving of a somnambulant, sleeping body. poetry understood as an alternative draft in content + form, as a quasi opposition to the society of the present.

# one sees/one does not see giovanni zibecchi’s skull run over by a police truck in the photos by aldo bonasia from 17.4.1975 [printed in blackout]

#  blackout. transformation instigation persecution inhibition. 7 april 1979. the public prosecution department of padua under judge pietro calogero [a member of the pci] initiates criminal procedure no. 710/79a against the autonomia operaia organizzata, who are accused of association with the brigate rosse + responsibility for the kidnapping of conservative politician aldo moro + his death. armed insurrection against the state. general criminalisation [the so-called teorema calogero]. with the aim of bringing about systemic revolution. confiscation of apparently incriminating materials as well as the journals rosso autonomia controinformazione. the criminalisation of an entire decade. pursue your pursuer with the power of truth [ugo foscolo, ultimi lettere di jacopo ortis, 1802, whose protagonist lives through the turmoil of the french revolution]. 6000 political activists [no eccentrics or political sectarians whose struggles would have taken place within a social bubble] sit in italian prisons. in a trial between terrorism + subversiveness. among them one of the principal defendants, toni negri [charged with being the secret commander of the brigate rosse]. forced awakenings of a corpse that doesn’t really want it. it sticks out its tongue. which the conjuror neatly removes with a perfect movement.

 

 

 

intermezzo of subversive [poetic] chronicles

[2017/18] fred moten listens in his consent not to be a single being to the noise of history in the intermediate states + dissonances of socio-poetic forms or designs of condensed, constantly moving cascades of sentences [mostly improvised paths], an accelerated back + forth. a rhizomatic sonic excess of radical imaginings. we speak of the abolishment of a framework, a limitation of discursive fragments. a kind of trance unique to us, through which we move. designs for virtuoso constructions based upon immanent attention + collective improvisation [in the tracing of fracture lines]. imaginary mappings, surfaces of electrified contact points of the most diverse forms + possibilities of the decoding of subtle capitalistic strategies + the concomitant field of social inequalities. by means of the arts/canada magazine debates of 1967, that included among others ad reinhardt [who understood black as the only quality in painting] + the interventions of cecil taylor [his poetic charging of black value + blackness as aesthetic sociality], moten [around whom fanon circles] circles around the concepts of black + blackness. the ephemeral accounts of black existences [from the black panthers to the black arts movement], idiosyncratic constellations + archives forced open, the varied ways of reading marx, anticipated in the manifestations + displacements of a black radical tradition [blackness is our everyday romance]. the ghostly presences of patrice lumumbas [a postcolonial future] or charles mingus. the terrible intimacy of the irreparable where everything is less and more than itself [about zong! :: m. nourbese philip]

[2020] in i’m working here. the collected poems of anna mendelssohn one can watch the poet as she alternates between the emancipation of meaning + its explicit denial. the density of poetic methods is a tactic of resistance + of critique. an underground network in which the conventional, hackneyed concepts of power + opposition become entangled. it is through these means that she repels the massive onslaught of inquisitorial penetrance [the principles of betrayal + their endless number of variations], through secrets of alternative designs, reflective splinters of perception. it is a radical consciousness of the mendacity of established forms of living. the postponement of the significant. the fear of surveillance + repression. of false ascriptions. that circles human reason, suspects + eyes it enviously, so that it draws itself in, concentrated upon a point, a place of retreat + zone of protection. finally the dizzying loss of self. relays of interiority + vulnerability of free-floating sensibility. the political imposes itself, distresses, alarms + threatens not only to engulf her life but also her artistic work. she writes to a friend :: i am an artist, not a terrorist. it is the frustration about a discourse that dictates what is permissible + utterable. there are so many answers that one ceases to pose questions. mendelssohn senses that revolutionary language soon becomes as conformist + violent as the one it is in fact intended to replace. it is the metaphysical demand for freedom. built upon collective structures. breadth of complexity. the permeability of utopias. but poems are not users’ manuals.

[2000/2011] a radical understanding of politics is central to the montages + cut-ups of manuel joseph’s dizzying manipulation of texts. heresies about the condition of poetry. rehabilitation measures. circular repetitions of amputated sentences. the exhibition of poetry, of texts that go beyond the book itself. one asks oneself how possible it is that the general conception of poetry remains such a restricted one. because we must give up pretending that the enemy is not only material, but also ideal, only the phantasm of our delusion. here one sees the destruction over one’s shoulder. a concerted, corrosive series of actions that become only more effective the less one sees them coming. la tête au carré. the daily attempts at adaptation that make one aware how unsuitable one is for this. and so it only remains to appropriate or infiltrate the system. the logic in the labyrinth of sensations. the amputations of the limbs from a body of text while war continues. held together with tape + card [as in exhibiting poetry today]. in the infrared light of a police drone the face of ulrike meinhof or florence rey. the elaborate facial-recognition technologies. family resemblances that defy a simple glance. the linguistic capers of a ventriloquist. displacements onto the various levels of a text. ignorance of the law. corps de grève. while one is no longer in the position, at the end of the second line, to remember the beginning of the first. grammar, sentence construction, syntax — no longer for controlling. texts, a series of texts, like replacement parts that are not created for one another + nevertheless combine. like the individual parts of a strange-looking weapon. yes, manuel joseph exists, i have met him.

[2010] nathalie quintane, tomates. a poetic of montage + détournements. the piecing together of heterogeneous elements to arrive at new connections. to destabilise habits. to blur the boundaries of different genres. illuminating public discussions from remote, radical angles. the attention to new forms of coexistence. of social uprisings + a linguistic dissent. collective voices. the words + banners of political movements, the pamphlets. the minorities [who are constantly in the majority]. the restless revenants. an apparent continuity of uprisings. l’affair de tarnac, la ‘jungle’ de calais + notre-dame-des-landes. instead of the ‘grand evenings of silverware’ one reads various kinds of texts juxtaposed from modern urban planning, the cultivation of organic tomatoes, discussions between adolphe + auguste blanqui [wasn’t the storming of the winter palace foretold in the stardust of the milky way, this hellish, kaleidoscopic system?]. is l’éternité par les astres just as radical as the poésies of isidore ducasse? as if poetry were not a political act in itself. language in action. to evade official treaties. or festive occasions. we thus direct attention towards the object. in the spirit of francis ponge. in the absence of weapons, fruit ripens. there are the ‘poetic’ tools. the style that is understood as the enemy of [common] thought. but is the language of revolt a mute language? the material thus displacing itself from its original context. from the apocalyptic tone heard all too often. descends into disorder. sabotage of bourgeois idioms. the infiltration of dominant discourses. in which the choice of a form can mean taking a stance. learning its small lessons. it is the misunderstandings in poetry [things that appear to be in everyone’s interests / since everyone is a swine] that makes it impossible. thus, following jean-marie gleize, are we speaking rather of post-poésie or poésie action directe, as christophe hanna suggests? perhaps it is about relating the various strata [levels] + themes of a text to one another [obviously + subtly], to display its hidden connections or repulsions. because the really interesting books are those that are read by the police. so if nathalie quintane is meant to have written l’insurrection qui vient, who is the author of tomates? the bloodied eye of the needle through which one drives the poet. as if the words don’t lay bare who one is. you are running out of the air you need to concentrate on anything else. a poetry with a small p that, without cowering, is or can do everything.

 

 

 

[1968/1982}

# leslie kaplan belongs in 1968 to a series of young, maoist intellectuals who, influenced by the ideas of the cultural revolution, decide to ally themselves with factory workers [the so-called établis]. on 13 may, when a general strike grips the whole of france and in the following weeks involves more than ten million workers, leslie kaplan has been recently employed in a washing machine factory in lyon + is responsible for the installation of cables. factory work shocks her. the strike is a liberation. ten years later she writes l’excès – l’usine [reading robert linhart’s l’etablis, which presents an account of work as an ouvrier specialise at the citroën assembly lines, corroborates her undertaking / linhart belongs to the maoist gauche prolétarienne, which over the years carries out countless political actions + within which many of the ‘most significant’ intellectuals were organised]. the endlessness of a time standing still. while one carries the factory around with oneself. the factory + the monotony. the microprocesses of production, about which marguerite duras speaks in discussion with leslie kaplan, that destroy the individual + their spirit. the alienation of the workers. the repetition. the compression of various layers. nine levels of circular structures. the compression of time. of consciousness. of pain. of solidarity. the automatisms that set in. the concentric circles of an occurrence. the factory, a universe [here populated exclusively by women / the division of women from men]. a camp. sure, one can die. the factory as a political place. a cage. tracks. one goes. one comes. the factory is exchangeable. like the assembly lines.

# yesterday i worked the entire day. from 4:00 am i worked at the rate of 400 pieces with a feeling of unspeakable affliction. at 4:00 pm the foreman said to me that if i don’t complete 800 pieces, he would have to dismiss me. [simone weil in a letter to boris souvarine, from la condition ouvriere / journal d’usine, 1953]. she worked in 1934 in a paris metal factory in order to understand working + living conditions from the roots, rejecting the abstractions of theoretical analysis. the revolutionary hopes of the worker seems illusory to her. she is all the more overjoyed when a fierce wave of strikes is unleashed in 1936 in france + factories are occupied.

# the factory that one carries everywhere with oneself. a routine workday that circles around itself. the air is red. the work that enters your bones + which one is never rid of. not even during breaks. not even outside the factory. in the canteen. the waxed tablecloths of the canteen that smell the same everywhere. this strange conformity of the ‘small’ things. the smells, the small chequers of the tablecloths. the pain. the exploitation. pain is without profit. [but capitalism has effectively ensured that even pain, even illness, affords profit, cf. karen brodine]. the body works + crumples. nothing one can be rid of. not in retirement, not with one’s death only a few years later.

# on the question of what for her as a writer is the most political sentence, leslie kaplan points to franz kafka’s journal entry from 27 january 1922: writing is a leap out of murderers row [la phrase la plus politique pour moi en tant qu’écrvain, in: les abassades, a publication of the crl on the occasion of a colloquium in tours 3 + 4 march 2000], in which kafka speaks of the consolation of writing, of this leap from the murderers row of ‘act observation’, of the unceasing coercion of self examination. kaplan summarises the leap as an act of thought + of resistance that enables one to emerge from the endless repetitions, the usual run of things + to start anew.

# more than a consolation is :: that you, too, have weapons [franz kafka, journals]

 

 

[1999]

# the film la commune (paris 1871) by the british director peter watkins, made with more than 200 actors (the overwhelming majority non-professionals including undocumented migrants, and homeless + unemployed persons) + in thirteen days, each with only one single shot, is a reflection on solidarity + engagement, the necessity of changing social structures, at which conclusion it is not only the 30,000 dead communards of the ‘semaine sanglante’ who remain in one’s memory.

# la commune is filmed in a disused factory at the outskirts of paris that served the former film pioneer georges méliès as film studio + its setting is based on the outline of the 11th arrondissement at the time of the paris commune, in which an above-average number of women workers promoted the uprising. the neon lamps mounted on the ceiling of the hall provide uniform light  so that the camera can move freely, without the need to take into account the various light sources on the floor, through the crowds of people and between reality + theatricality, without hiding the artificial constructions of the film set, which makes the long sequences of the ‘tv commune’ possible, that in abrupt cuts or shifts, the fragmentation of images + statements, the collective voices in the splintering of discourses, the improvisations in front of the camera of an anonymous workforce, reflecting the events, creates a diversity of voices + opinions in contrast to the coverage of the national tv versailles, in which the roles have long since been assigned + the expert opinions of so-called superiors or government + military representatives are predominantly broadcast :: ‘the commune disseminates disorder. we establish order. the french understand this.’

# in brecht’s play the days of the commune the worker pierre langevin responds to teacher geniève guéricault’s remark that disunity within the commune is bad, ‘no, it is good, it is movement – provided it is the right direction’.

# at the end of la commune a female worker states: ‘in this kind of work [that of the communards] there is the possibility of transformation. transformation depends upon all on whether we succeed in bringing our thought + action into harmony + in fighting for our ideals. + this must not necessarily involve physical violence.’

# kristin ross proposes the thesis [e.g. in communal luxury, 2015] that current occupation movements, such as in zad in notre-dames-des-landes or the indigenous movement in standing rock + their territorial struggles, the formation of decentralised, solidly united communities are much more inclusive [similar to the rebels of the paris commune] than the factory strikes of the 60s + 70s.

 

 

[2001]

# after the neo-liberal policies of the argentine government led to profound social crisis with high levels of unemployment + an unbridled precarity of working conditions, on 19 + 20 december in buenos aires, following the decision of the finance minister to freeze private savings + thus, in a last-ditch effort, to stall the free fall of the argentine currency, the people reacted with multiple uprisings + the colectivo situaciones attempted over the next few weeks to picture this response in a series of texts. here the figure of the ‘researcher-militant’ played a characteristic role. a method that closely combined practice + theory, engagement + research + focused upon posing questions [without following any strategic purpose]. a plethora of rebels + accompanying voices run through the texts of the collective that thus preserve a plurality + creativity in the writing + open up access to knowledge of the struggles, without claiming any one truth about what happened on those two days in december. according to the motto of the zapatismo :: ‘preguntando caminanos [asking we walk]’.

# the colectivo situaciones speaks of a movement that has no intention of using power, but which hopes rather more to effect a deposition of power + the delegitimisation of official policy or of so-called representatives [‘insurrección destituyente/insurrection to oust the government’ :: apuntes para el nuevo protagonismo social, 2002]. as an expression of a social transformation, a new form of socio-political participation, a horizontal layer of action in which hierarchies have no place.

# between the power that destroys and the actions of countervailing power there exists an essentially asymmetrical relationship [colectivo situaciones, el silencio de los caracoles].

# the uprisings, aimed at the entire political class + their system of neoliberal paradigms, lasted uninterrupted — even after the argentine government declared state of siege — for more than 30 hours. the struggles were articulated through new forms of protest + present a kind of laboratory of rebellion. on 19 december there are cooking-pot demonstrations [‘cacerolazos’], during which the crowds chant :: ‘stick the state of siege up your asses’. later one could then hear !que se vayan todos!’ [you should all go!] — two superimposed soundtracks :: the beating of cooking pots + the slogans, of which nearly all that can be understood is their sound. on 20 december there follows open confrontation, the appropriation of local practices of resistance with situative creative power. the forms of action that one knows from the piqueteros :: roads + business blockaded, barricades erected, various different materials + objects set alight. burning tires in an access road in the centre. the collective processes of collective situations. the trust placed by each individual in something shared. plaza de mayo, plaza de los dos congresos. fighting in the plaza de mayo between the rebels + the police. a fleeing president + a police force that shoots into the crowds. afterwards, as always + everywhere, the injured + more than 30 dead. the government stands down. socio-political hierarchies are removed. it was obvious that behind the events there was no particular power. the media report upon the usual spectres + ghosts of the ‘ungovernable’, the same old worn-out patterns of interpretation. the illusory existence of constituted powers. because the representing heads or parties + associations were lacking, those who still believed themselves to speak what others think. spontaneous absences. each leaves the place assigned to them. the radically egalitarian entitlement to political participation [performative practice], the politically emancipatory rupture with the separation of the political + the sensual that alters our perception of social assignations + defined areas of competence [cf. jacques rancière, le partage du sensible. esthétique et politique, 2000 & la nuit des prolétaires. archives du rêve ouvrier, 1981]. we aren’t talking about a political avant garde that positions itself at the forefront in a process of creative positivity. it is the numerous, well prepared + networked movements + cooperatives, lived forms of resistance, that do not emerge out of nothing.

# in the subsequent decade they inspire a series of uprisings in latin america that embrace the occupation + recommissioning of bankrupt or defunct factories [the issue of private ownership] + the self administration of schools. alternative forms of living are put to the test, the reappropriation of abandoned neighbourhoods.

# instead of the utilisable crises + catastrophes, the profitable demise, that is, the forms of protest that capitalism integrates within its systems + ultimately neutralises, the comité invisible recognises only the deposed insurrection as able to prevent the failure of revolutions that in the end only replicate what they rebel against. in terms of a destituent logic, the struggle against state and capital is valuable first of all for the exit from capitalist normality that is experienced therein, for the desertion from the shitty relations with oneself, others, and the world under capitalism. [comité invisible, maintenant, 2017]. to make oneself ungovernable. the subjective expression of an objective disorder. people who affiliate themselves with various forms of resistance. potencies of invisible parties. utopian thought can only then function if it breaks free of it own myth. the destituent gesture is thus desertion and attack, creation and wrecking, and all at once, in the same gesture. pillage, that can equally be understood as a form of self limitation. marcello tarí writes in there is no unhappy revolution, 2021, that only a revolutionary-proletarian dimension of the political as such is able to effect a true rupture with the present, a revolutionary becoming that gives free rein to the imagination [with the enthusiasm of a child].

# tarí addresses the demands of the 2001 protesters :: everyone must go, the governors + bosses, the liars, all politicians, all cowards, all the corrupt + the corrupters, everyone must go. they have to go, they will not be shot or guillotined, they must simply disappear, now. a protest directed at the entire political system. while the ballot boxes cannot be large enough for our conceptions of politics [+ our dreams].

# marcello tarí, there is no unhappy revolution :: colectivo situaciones began their analysis of the argentinian insurection with a significant theoretical gesture, defining it not as a large-scale social movement or a political practice (however extraordinary) but instead as an “ethical operation.” knowing how to make this distinction between social movement, political practice, and ethical operation is no easy exercise, given how we are used to putting homogeneous labels of “movement” and “politics” on an extremely diverse array of events and processes, without any clarity as to what these words might even mean. […] a social movement can march through cities and perhaps block the streets, occupy houses, and, if it is strong enough, even declare a strike — but in an insurrection a people is born, in a revolution a class is constituted.

# to disrupt flows of goods + money means to intervene directly in networks of control + destroying the picture they project of a united world kept alive by an omnipresent technological system of policing.

# donatella di cesare writes in il tempo della rivolta of the predominant political tendency + its medial narrative, in which current, global revolts are viewed as a pre-political, infantile expression of opinion that lacks the ability to formulate its demands. the usual public view is directed towards a projected lack of clarity, a spectacle, presented as an unmanageable chaos, because revolts break through and surpass the logic of instituional politics’. while politics exhausts itself in the regimenting + penalising actions of the police + judiciary.

# protest remains a nomad, camped in tents at the city periphery along with migrants, the stateless, the ostracised, the homeless & vagrants. [donatella di cesare]

# while the laws of capital [+ of a state granting its own legitimacy, but which no longer represents a predominant majority] continue to find application through the cudgels + bullets of the police, — the encroachment of interpretative violence — the tailored punishments, the mechanisms of containment + deprivation of liberty, the boundaries of its exercise of violence shift in an unimaginable manner. the collapse of capitalism is obvious, but it repeats itself as permanent catastrophe.

 

 

[1971/73]

# the gruppo gramsci 1971, founded by giovanni arrighi, luisa passerini + romano madera, is an example of a radical autonomous group formed mainly from a marxist-leninist current of workers + intellectuals, as well as from parts of the milan student movement [and including the milan labour union], that develops the idea of the intellectual autonomy of the working class.

# the journal rosso arises out of a heretical faction of the radical left of the gruppo gramsci + appears 1973-1979 printed in the rotografica at via ciovasso 4 in milan. nanni balestrini, responsible for a time for the printing, typesetting + layout of the newspaper potere operaio, likewise takes on the graphic design of rosso [large-format page layout, immense photographs]. the opening of new horizons. the sounds of the street in the reconquest of life. the existing contradictions, an archipelago burst open. the reinvention of the revolution [which can never be only a copy]. gramsci was simply the most suitable name to inspire us as we searched for a way forward [romano madera in an interview 30 years later]. while there are various levels of abstraction, such as das kapital or the eighteenth brumaire of louis bonaparte.

# in rosso nr. 7 [december 1973]una proposta per un diverso modo di fare politica / a suggestion for another way of doing politics, the gruppo gramsci shared a good two years later their decision to disband, in order to create a space for the elements of rejection of capitalistic work and the substance of alienation can become clearer and be generalised in an ever-increasing mass politicisation. […]  family and gender, the situation of youths and women, emotional and spiritual repression, the marginalisation of those who are not ‘normal’, these are the routine experiences in which the slavery of factory work and a life defined by capital manifests. […] it is in our opinion necessary to leap from the ‘logic of the group’ to the ‘logic of the movement’. […] and finally to realise in concrete form the incipient stages of another life [see also the concept of the future in rimbaud’s lettre du voyant, the  sketched conversion of one’s view], beyond the roles that capital imposes upon us in order to marginalise us, subjugate us, divide us from one another, and to have us as a loyal workforce at its disposal for its profit. members of the group regather in the colletivi politici operai [which, together with parts of the rather militantly aligned potere operaio, form a metropolitan structure of struggle], in which toni negri is increasingly involved, with whom the movement will take a completely different direction. the gramscians are highly influenced by the emerging feminist movement, a close relationship exists with milan feminists such as renata esiber, franca pizzini + of course luisa passerini.

# in rosso nr. 15 it is shown that communism is not the struggle for a different or better place of work, but rather for the abolition of work itself.

# the practice of worker decrees leads to astonishing, concrete results. in rome + milan hundreds of workers’ families occupied entire buildings + established self-organised nurseries, chemists, or advisory centres for women [a process of the self-constitution of a liberation movement]. one begins to control individual city boroughs + to disperse fascists + speculators. workers who have been dismissed for political reasons return the following day accompanied by other workers. others continue their subversive activities + are paid from funds financed from obligatory ‘levies’ from parts of the bourgeoisie. people begin to contemplate the organisation of life + what effect this has on their personal, daily lives.

# in the 1976 february edition of rosso, one learns that a new spectre haunts the streets of italy. the spectre of autonomy. there are always various groups that write autonomy with a small ‘a’ [likewise poetry with a small ‘p’], spontaneous unions from below. without knowing where it will lead, which forms of organisation will exist at the end of the process. in the practice of routine micropolitics they bring themselves to the position of claiming to be countervailing political powers. following the pressure of the street.

# something that gilles deleuze formulated in the preface to félix guattari’s psychanalyse et transversalité, 1972: a good group does not take itself to be unique, immortal, and significant, unlike a defense ministry or homeland office of security, unlike war veterans, but instead plugs into an outside that confronts the group with its own possibilities of non-sense, death, and dispersal precisely as a result of its opening up to other groups.

 

 

[1968]

# un fantasma recorre méxico / a specter haunts mexico is the first text written by the mexican poet, revolutionary + marxist theoretician josé revueltas following the student massacre on 2 october at the plaza de las tres culturas in the tlatelolco district [it is the same  spectre that haunts the first pages of the communist manifesto], after disappearing underground in the wake of the military occupation of the unam [universidad nacional autónoma de méxico] — and forced to remain on the move + to travel from one end of the city to the other. i begin to write these notes in a large and orderly room, in some house in some neighborhood in the city, today, tuesday, 29 october. on the day before his arrest he holds a lecture on the campus. he spends the following night on the university grounds. at his writing desk he not only works, but rests + sleeps. early in the morning he leaves the campus and + attempts to evade his pursuers — changing car several times during his journey — but is nevertheless discovered a short time later at his accommodation. one doesn’t know what it means, what that thing is about putting together words, in a world, an unbreathable void in which all of them seem to have been broken without daring to say what has happened, what they designate […] in reality i had started taking notes in early may, before the movement. one day sooner or later i will reconstruct – in the ever-new light, new at every minute and every hour – of this vertiginous, changing, ungraspable life in which something that in its time had an enormous or anxious importance afterwards seems unreal , dream-like, and lived in all unlikehood, as though we ourselves were our own story, our own distant story as told by others. revueltas allied himself with the students. he wrote countless essays + manifestos with the student protests as their subject. owing to his role as apparent intellectual spokesperson + ideologue of the movement he is sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. as if the causes of the protests + revolts did not lie in the social inequalities, the exploitation of people + resources, the lived corruption of so-called elites, the intentional minimisation of the life chances of entire generations, but only as the result of intellectual incendiary agents provocateurs. on 13 may 1971, after two years’ incarceration, revueltas is finally given early release from lecumberri prison.

# in méxico 68, juventud y revolución revueltas writes that mexico’s student youth movement, like the students of the french may ’68, had stood on the side of the working class in order to achieve their goals. he highlights the revolutionary movement of may ’68 in france as a model for mexican society, holds in esteem the uncompromising demands + negotiations with employers + the government. in revueltas’ understanding the ’68 movement, each and every demonstrator [the polyphony of voices + opinions / the meeting of the most diverse currents] is a participant in the creation of the democratic process of history, without any hierarchy of persons or event [horizontal + egalitarian], bound to a sequence of moments that defy clear definition. un movimiento, una bandera, una revolución. the moment of equal participation for all. moments that set an arduous transformation in motion + are able to bring about a transformation of society. each revolt, no matter how successful it is, serves the following as a matrix + draft of a script still being written [a work in progress]. the revolution is not the work of a single day or year, says revueltas, but of an entire lifetime. intensities that unexpectedly erupt anew in other times + inspire a subsequent generation. radical social transformations to be protected from all forms of bureaucratisation + usurpation by parties + their dogmas.

# in contrast to many other writers revueltas did not merely experience the events of ’68 from afar. for him it is not some whim of youthful spontaneity. he is obsessed with ’68 + maintains that the revolters + their radical slogans, the unanticipated graffiti on the walls of the university, its unprecedented means differentiate it from all previous uprisings. i believe that the experience of 1968 is highly positive and that it is going to lead to enormous benefits, on the condition that we know how to theorize the phenomenon.

# revueltas viewed the october revolution of 1917 as a manifestation of the idea of a cognitive democracy. an experiment in which various ideas + projects, which had more or less foundered historically, were realised. revueltas was a marxist heretic with a radical understanding of freedom. a stranger to any dogmatism, he never subordinated his thoughts + his work to any kind of power. he joined the communist party of mexico in 1930, was expelled from it in 1943, only to join again in 1956 — four years later he was expelled by the party for a second time. he was a co-founder of the leninist spartacus league (liga leninista espartaco), but later was banned even from this.

# in the early period of his imprisonment — after the massacre of students + workers — revueltas was instead a political captive in lecumberri’s cell block 1 for common prisoners + criminals. he remained awake virtually day + night, fearing at each hour for his life. at this time he developed the idea of el apando [the hole]. in this text he analysed the complexity of freedom’s possibilities, the situative + spatial conditions that allow one to feel a sense of freedom or the longing for it. in any place that seems to be the most distant. for revueltas freedom is inconceivable without this withdrawal [imprisonment, dictatorship, migration, the criminalisation of political dissidence]. he writes in his diario de lecumberri [lecumberri diaries] :: [8 february 1970] […] for the essence of freedom lies precisely in the richness of its options, a richness that, explained in abstract terms, is reduced to its most extreme limits only when faced with the imminence of death. The problem here is that unfreedom represents a kind of death, a constant imminence of death, that renews itself each day for years […]

# with palabras finales revueltas answers the judges + public prosecutors that had condemned him :: who can prevent what it is we’re struggling for, from prison, armed with criticism and thoughts? herein lies the inconsequence of those who have convicted us. they have been unable to sentence us to death, not because such a penalty is not inscribed in the legal code, nor because it is outside of their power to murder us — as demonstrated by the vandalic assault we suffered on january 1 of this year [revueltas is referring to an attack by common prisoners, mostly criminals — pumped full of drugs — on political ones, orchestrated at the behest of the guards] but because they cannot murder what we represent.

 

 

[1970/71] 

# on 28 february 1971 the political committee of workers from porto marghera [formed from a merging of potere operaio + il manifesto in venezia porto marghera] published its manifesto against noxiousness to combat an increase in illnesses, accidents + poisonings among workers [the damage to health cause by the imperative to work, the various pathogenic effects of capitalist means of production on humans + environment]. the residents of adjacent places also fall ill — the neighbourhood of san giuliano built upon a drained swamp + contaminated through the release of gas clouds + chemical poisons. and by fighting for less work, in order to no longer die by poisoning from that very work, we fight against putting our health at risk. true prevention is only possible, though, if one keeps oneself at a distance from work.

# already in 1968 workers drew attention to environmental destruction caused especially by the highly toxic petrochemical industry [from the merging of petrochemical works edison + montecatini came the giant montedison concern, which in recent years has also been the focus of research by pasolini + his book petrolio].

# over the years the workers’ committee attempts through the tactic of stop-and-go strikes to enforce its demands for less work + more pay [the equalisation of wages for workers + employees], to combat the causes of ‘noxiousness’, to fight against the obvious rationalisations + secret machinations of industry + unions. 4000 workers erect burning barricades in the roads providing access to factories [which reminds us that power is logistic. block everything. comité invisible, a nos amis, 2014 or of the traffic-junction riots of the gilets jaunes 2018]. at the beginning of the 1970s, workers demonstrate their unity + solidarity with one another by marching noisily through the giant factory halls [similarly to the legendary processions in the mirafiori’s fiat factory, by nanni balestrini, documented in vogliamo tutto].

# the struggles in porto marghera are not limited to the factory but extend to social, everyday life. unauthorised reductions in electricity + gas prices, public transport tickets. this form of autoriduzione also encompasses the occupation of vacant houses, the reduction of rents, the public burning of daily bills. a tactic that will later be used in other regions in italy. shopping strikes force supermarkets to reduce prices. [the history of the workers’ struggles in porto marghera is recorded in the augusto finzi archive, whose namesake was active for 18 years as a technician in the petrolchimico + later became one of the key labour leaders. finzi participated in the trials was involved in legal proceedings against the chemical industry + died in 2004 of cancer, presumably the result of years of exposure to asbestos].

 

 

[1975-1981]

# the collectif révoltes logiques emerged from a seminar on the emancipation of women workers at the reform university vincennes [paris viii] given by jacques rancière [in the milieu of the crir (centre de recherche sur les idélogies de la révolte)]. the journal of the same name [les révoltes logiques, 15 editions] situates itself at the fringes of the academic establishment. research of workers’ revolts. to pursue the transverse paths of the revolt + their contradictions. the collective is formed of philosophers, [former] militant members of the extreme left of may ’68 [who will compose the matrix of the collective], such as jean borreil, geneviève fraisse, danielle rancière, michel souletie, and arlette farge. militant investigations [throwing sand into the official, academic gears]. through serge crosseron they are connected to the italian autonomia. history understood as a militant curiosity, a reflexive activity [the past teaches us nothing], the reconstitution of relations. the unequal, asymmetric forms of revolt, intended fragmentations + their contradictory characteristics that can be detected in struggles through the years. the complex intricacy [the myriad interweavings] of forms of resistance. the research on women’s emancipation [feminists of the revolutionary year 1848 / the rejection of proudhon’s view of female inferiority + the emphasis on the work of feminist flora tristan. or the struggles of younger french communists following the october revolution]. recognition of the moments of transformation. the kind of relation between sense + the senses that form the fabric of a text. voices that have been intentionally silenced. the dismantling of authoritarian discourse + rejection of all to obvious contextualisations [cf. michel foucault’s principle of genealogy from the mid 1970s / the connection of the collective to foucault + his lectures at the collège de france, the seminars on biopower]. it cannot be a question of what was said in the name of the workers, but rather what the workers themselves have to say. to remain as close as possible to the material. to follow the dynamic of thought. open for discoveries. to convey the corresponding particularity of resistance. the countless voices of the women workers’ archive that run counter to conventional expectations. young female students going to the factory. radical critique of the situation + its conditions. the right to revolt. closely connected with the etablissement movement [reports from former établis in the final edition of les révoltes loqiques 1981, politiques du voyage]. in the article l’usine nostalgique / the nostalgic factory jacques rancière criticises a widespread nostalgic longing, the working class, in the course of progressive deindustrialisation, no longer able to identify with a place of industrial production [namely, the factory]. rancière continues in a way to research the archives of workers’ dreams in la nuit des prolétaires, 1981.

# there are always further points of contact with other groups, such as the gauche prolétarienne or the gip, feminist alliances or the théâtre du soleil, in whose work or actions one actively participates. thus there is a close relationship to gip [groupe d’information sur les prisons] + its initiators daniel défert + michel foucault. a transformation of temporally determined proximity between alternating members + groups. at the end of 1968 more than 200 leftist radicals are placed on trial + more than 100 are locked up. the politically imprisoned allied themselves with other inmates. the group vive la revolution disseminate flyers in prison. at the start of 1971 the gauche prolétarienne initiate the first hunger strikes. the closed world of the prisons, which must be broken open in order that the voices of the imprisoned be heard. the struggle in the factories is the same as that in the prisons, to oppose the techniques of exerting power + discipline.

# the title of the journal les révoltes logiques refers to the poem démocratie [from the illuminations, 1886], rimbaud’s parody of  the perverse, exploitative, imperial logic of the colonial-bourgeoise class ::le drapeau va au paysage immonde, et notre patois étouffe le tambour. / aux centres nou alimenterons la plus cynique prostitution. nous massacrerons les révoltes logiques [the flag goes to the filthy landscape, and our patois chokes the drum. / in the centres we shall feed the most cynical prostitution. we shall slaughter the logical revolts]. the complete ruin + dismantling of the utopias of the paris commune, executed by firing squad. a form of poetry that can identify with the ideas of a new language. rimbaud lived + saw the ultimate failure of this utopia [his rejection of social codes / of a morality that only serves exploitation, sanitary pleasures + intermezzi of ideal antipathies]. he showed the proclaimers + poets of a golden future what he thought of them + prematurely ruined the commercial + spiritual aspirations to some future salvation [an exterritorialised democracy]. while poetry always lies ahead of action. as for the rest, it’s an old story. the deviant methodology of a universal intelligence. to counter this purring, noiseless mechanism of the poet. the challenge of false individualities. poésie objective not to lubricate the smooth surface of things. the correction of the modern. the forgetting of multiple passwords. there can be no more talk of poetry. watertight boundaries that are flooded. the shameful jargon in literature + politics. all that is solid melts into air, […] and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind. [marx/engels, the communist manifesto].

# ten years after ’68, the collective prepared an edition [les lauriers de mai ou les chemins de pouvoirs 1968-1978] featuring the paris may + attempting to counter the distortions of politicians + historians. in order not to leave the continuation of the revolt of ’68 + the politics that resulted from it to academics or the machinations of parliament. the ten-month strike + the takeover of production in the watch factory in besançon 1973/74 is analysed. forms of struggle + striking beyond the unions + parties. the moment in which the gauche prolétarienne + other [maoist] groups begin to dissolve.

 

 

[1977]

# on 24 march, the first anniversary of the military coup in argentina, the journalist + author rodolfo walsh wrote an open letter to the military junta [carta abierta de un escritor a la junta militar], in which he names the junta’s atrocities + repression + denounces its ever-disastrous economic policy + their impacts especially on the working class [in the clear knowledge that this would further increase the attention he would receive from the generals] :: the censorship of the press, the persecution of intellectuals, the raid on my house in el tigre, the dear friends murdered by you, and the loss of my daughter, who died fighting you: these are among the circumstances that have made me resort to this clandestine form of expression, after nearly thirty years of having freely given my opinion as a journalist and writer. [the year before, his 26-year-old daughter victoria had shouted from the roof terrace of her shelter, which was surrounded by more than 150 soldiers + in which she and other comrades had resisted the military for one and a half hours :: you are not killing us we decide for ourselves when we die + took her own life with her own weapon. she had been the officer of the guerilla organisation montoneros, responsible for the trade-union press. rodolfo walsh dedicated a story to her + recorded it :: vicky could have chosen other paths that would not have been less honourable, but the one that she did chose was the most just, generous, and reasonable. her clear-sighted death is a synthesis of her short, beautiful life. she lived not for herself, she lived for others, and these others are in their millions.]. on 25 march, after walsh set off for a meeting in the centre of buenos aires — he had shortly beforehand tossed copies of his letter into a postbox — he was ambushed [a comrade had revealed the meeting place under torture]. in order not to fall into the hands of the enemy alive, he attempts to defend himself with a tiny revolver that he carried with him at all times during his last months + is hit during an exchange of fire with the task force grupo de tareas 3.3.2. his body is taken to the dictatorship’s largest secret prison [esma]. a detained friend who happens to see him there testifies that his chest was riddled with bullets. his body remains undiscovered to this day. fifteen thousand disappeared persons, ten thousand prisoners taken, four thousand dead, tens of thousands landless peasants — together, these comprise the naked cipher of the terror i speak of [in the course of one year]. the denunciation of the forms of absolute [metaphysical] torture.

# according to walsh, writing literature is closely connected to the forms of political militance. subversive reportage [documentary literatur], the factual report or as ricardo piglia suggests in an interview with walsh :: the literatura fakta of a sergei tretyakov that attentively analyses socio-political changes + renounces fiction, committed to an obsessive search for truth. against a bourgeois notion of literature, because the critique of actual conditions, as soon as it is translated into a fictional character or the ‘art of the novel’, no longer appears to be anyone’s business. today i think that that not only is it possible that art be directly related to politics, but, since in retrospect i am much annoyed by the crutch we had to use for years, i would like to reverse the situation and say that today i cannot imagine art that is not directly related to politics, to the current situation in a certain country; when this is not the case, for me it is lacking something as art […] because today in argentina it is impossible to make literature detached from politics or to make art detached from politics. that is, if it is detached from politics, it is neither art nor politics by that definition alone.

# at the start of the 70s walsh had attached himself to the revolutionary struggle + belonged to the left-wing peronist guerilla organisation montoneros. among whose ranks the poets juan gelman + paco urondo also fought the dictatorship. weapons have weight, but they don’t think [juan gelman]. later they were among the editorial staff of the newspaper noticias, published within montoneros’ sphere from november 1973 until august 1974. over time, though, they came to criticise the orientation + strategy of the guerrilla organisation, the increasingly hierarchical structures. gelman, who was on the list of the fascist death squads, departed overseas in 1975. the military coup in the following year prolonged his exile to rome, madrid + paris, then later mexico. the bloody madness of the argentine dictatorship became the content of numerous newspaper articles by gelman.

# in los poemas de julio greco, siempre la poesía / the poem of julio greco, on poetry, juan gelman writes that poetry should be made by all, not only by one / as if one were to say that the earth were for all and not only for one :: an expression of poetic communism. poetry must have practical truth as its goal [lautréamont, poésie, 1870 / lautréamont’s poesien can be read as prologue to the paris commune, the destruction or plagiaristic misappropriation of bourgeois modes of being]. the certainty in the mind of the comrade. the burning soul that blocks the course of the bullet. of the wild political poet gelman. with these verses you will make no revolution. or settle accounts yet to be settled. to call to mind, keep accounts. a signal that begins to gleam in the middle of the night. concealment in cellars, the electric circuits of closed paths.

# la poesia es una forma de resistencia / poetry is a form of resistance [juan gelman]

 

 

[1968-1977]

# l’orda d’oro 1968-1977 written + compiled by nanni balestrini + primo moroni [sergio bianchi — whose poem is recited in balestrini’s gli invisibile, 1987 — only appears in the second edition + adds a series of texts] is a kind of toolbox, a multiplicity of materials intended to counter the mummification of events. texts of the self discovery of a politically creative + existential time in an italy of political struggle between contemporaneous movements. short-lived journals, pamphlets + manifestos [innumerable private archives, especially that of primo moroni] of different organisational segments. a waymarker within a labyrinth or political laboratory of multiple revolutionary currents whose different tendencies + sensibilities are marked. integrated into a network of a global existential revolt, the explosion of 1968 + the revolution of feminism, the demands for political self-determination + the rejection of the principles of authoritarian rule [by which means politicians + entrepreneurs subject factory work to optimisation to prepare society for the ‘necessities of capitalist constraints’]. the failure of the pci + the trade unions is shown to have insufficiently understood the extraordinary creativity within society + the majority of autonomous groups. instead, the party enters into a ‘historical compromise’, an alliance with capital + the apparatus of repression [also under the impression left by the fascist coup in chile of 11 september 1973].

# l’orda d’oro appears at a time of state repression with thousands of imprisoned + ongoing, undiminished court proceedings + sentences by special decree with which the judiciary is granted staggering powers. intellectuals who suddenly begin to practise self-criticism. blacklists detailing those to be silenced. whose books disappear from shelves + catalogues. it is the brutal attempt at social marginalisation of the ’77 movement by the state.

# until 1978, when the so-called legge moro was passed, which, among other things, made the possession of documents, newspapers, posters, etc. of the extra-parliamentary left a punishable offence + incriminating material + printed matter was destroyed throughout the country. all the comrades’ archives would vanish deliberately destroyed by them all the newspapers all the magazines all the leaflets all the documents all the posters all the publications of the movement destroyed vanished all bundled in cardboard boxes and plastic rubbish bags and burned or thrown on rubbish tips tons of printed matter the written history of the movement its memory dumped among refuse consigned to the flames through the fear of repression a fear well justified because all it took then was leaflet found in a search to put you in prison for a year or two [nanni balestrini, gli invisibile].

# at the beginning of the 1970s, more and more workers in italy gain a new awareness of their possibilities. autonomous groups form, fed up with the reactionary + compromise-based politics of the parties + trade unions. they take up the idea of class autonomy, whose origins can be found in gramsci’s thought. the organic unity of intellectual education + proletarian action. according to gramsci’s definition, the ‘organic intellectual’ does not belong to an elite or profession. he asserts himself in the context of social struggles, in the struggle for change + develops into a politically effective force in the union of social groups.

# the majority of autonomous groups that began to dominate the left radical scene in italy at the beginning of the 1970s were, in contrast to the strictly hierarchical party formations of a relatively immobile, bureaucratic apparatus, extremely short-lived structures of ‘ant-like forms of organisation’, subject to fluid changes in their composition, dynamics of autonomous, revolutionary communist or marxist-leninist committees, which often reassemble in constellations of new, temporary communities a few weeks after their formation or constitution, following the gestures of refusal towards a capitalist totality + in dissociation from society, its role models and patronisation. committed to the release of proletarian subjectivity, to a confrontational openness, to asserting oneself within a practice of daily micro-processes against elitist claims to leadership.

# how does it come about that the worker does not do what is told to him?

# marcello tarí writes in autonomie! italie, les années 1970 that autonomia is not the name of an organisation, but rather describes an impure communism that unites marx and antipsychiatry, the paris commune and american counterculture, dadaism and uprising, operaismo and feminism with one another.

# 1973 is the climax of a cycle of struggle that began five years earlier + culminating in the violent occupation of fiat mirafiori. the struggles + tactics of workers conducted without union or compromise bargaining. extremely heterogeneous, anti-institutional + organisationally flexible. the autonomous groups supported by potere operaio + lotta continua possess an unpredictability running counter to conventional political logic. processions in the larger factories, led mainly by the struggles of young workers [highly  politicised] from the north of italy, are intended to paralyse production. for more pay + against the noxiousness of work, the end of assembly line work + against the dictatorship of the foremen. the blockade of one department is enough to hinder the whole process. new forms of struggle are developed while unions + employers are left racking their brains how to get the strikers to return to work. finally the workers succeed in bringing the factory under their control. in the following years, however, the concessions gained are again retrieved. there is extensive restructuring, a relocation of production, savings through automation [+ mass redundancies], that is, the ‘technological leap’ that the workers’ vanguards had always warned about.

# during the 1977 altercations in ‘red bologna’ between demonstrators + the police, young students chant: cara-bin-ieri non lo-scor-dare abbiamo majakovskij da ven-di-care / don’t forget, carabiniere, we have mayakovsky to avenge. the members of the collective a/traverso pursue mayakovsky’s path [sulla strada di majakovskij], whose texts are able to grasp + advance that pulsating reality around them. the relationship between literature + reality :: thus the revolution has brought the angry sound of the millions into the streets; the jargon of the suburbs pours across the city […] this is the elementary violence of the new language. but how can one let this language flow into poetry. [vladimir mayakovsky, how to make verse, 1926]. the wireless white noise of russian futurism. poetry as changing reality + perspective [to take position]. the abolition of the difference between poetic language + that of real life. thus the transformational effects of poetry initiate processes of change. in a/traverso, quaderno 3 one reads :: mayakovsky participated in the revolutionary process and found there the place where separation was actually overcome. + yet a few years later the poet’s red flag hung in tatters. torn by the wind of history.

 

 

[1962-1968]

# pierre guyotat is 22 years old when, still during his military service [as radio operator] in algeria, he begins to write the carnets du bord, volume 1 (1962-69). after returning in march ‘62 from a stationing in the djurdjura mountains, he is taken by the military police for interrogation. within moments he realises that his life will from now on take a different direction. he instinctively returns his room + takes a self-portrait with his camera in front of the mirror [intended as a documentation of the before + after]. he is accused of undermining the morale of troops, of reading + spreading incriminated literature, of aiding and abetting desertion. he is interrogated for ten days, imprisoned [in isolation] for weeks + tortured. he is forced to eat food mixed with gravel, to drive out his desire to write + talk. the army represents the maximum form of authority of the stupidest kind. he is sent to a punishment battalion. experiences daily torture, the contempt + butchery of the algerian population. in those times, war covered ecbatane. [tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats, 1967]. real wars lose nothing in cruelty compared to imaginary ones. he writes his first entries nine days after his imprisonment. he hides his notebook + his pen behind chunks of stone he has taken out of the wall of his cell.

# to reveal the essential as if one had no choice.

# guyotat addresses the internal + external turmoil of the war in algeria in works as diverse as tombeau pour cinq cent millessoldats, eden eden eden + almost 50 years later in idiotie.

# in spring ’68, after his return from algeria [living in a vw bus + experiencing the events first hand], pierre guyotat finds himself on 13 may caught up in a protest march [the trade unions had called a general strike] of more than 1 million workers, pupils + students marching through the city + is finally arrested with countless others. the work tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats, published in 1967, is said to have had an astounding effect among the student population. he himself speaks of having processed his experiences during the algerian war [he feels closer to the algerian rebels than to the french army] in its 7 epic, hallucinatory songs. i had to forget everything in order to remember it, he will later say. the events of may ’68, the emergence of an altered political understanding, also affected his texts + the struggles fought over them. eden eden eden is written during a gradual attachment to communism + the theses of tel quel [guyotat 1970, in conversation with thérèse reveillé].

# in an entry in the carnets [20.12.1968] pierre guyotat notes that his words in eden eden eden resemble the short, realistic words of mayakovsky’s poems, to which after repeated reading he feels close [that is, at the level of interaction + tension an expression of life ⇠⇢ syntax].

 

 

[1923-1925 + 1927-1928]

# together with ossip brik, vladimir mayakovsky publishes the journal lef [the left front of the arts], which becomes a mouthpiece for the left wing of the experimental soviet avant-garde [formalism, futurism, constructivism]. away with the borders of countries and ateliers! off with the monks of right-wing art! rodchenko [who shortly before had painted the ‘last painting’ / every plane is a plane and cannot be an image] takes on the graphic design. sergei tretyakov, one of the leading theoreticians of the group, belongs to the editorial committee. the first texts are titled: what does lef fight for? / whom does lef fasten onto? / whom does lef warn? in our word-work mayakovsky + brik write: we do not want to recognise a difference between poetry, prose, and the language of practice. we recognise the unified material of the word and leave it to the conditioning of the times. we work on the organisation of the speech sounds, on the polyphony of the rhythm, on the simplification of the linguistic and artistic constructions, on the formation of the highest accuracy and expressiveness, on the production of new thematic procedures [referring mainly to mayakovsky’s poem about it, printed in the first edition]. flexibility of formal experimentation [the negative truth of operations]. no psychologism or coloratura [the phonetic reality of the word], but rather a literature of facts :: as tretyakov hopes to achieve revolutionary spontaneity with structures + khlebnikov strives to achieve precise expression in the art of capturing the poetic texture of the word without predetermined poetisation + mayakovsky in his poems tries to raise up the mown-down, routine life by means of polyphonic rhythms [the sound structure]. the bolting together, innovations of another language [at the same time subjective + snatched from the voices of a collective]. but the reproaches against mayakovsky remain as always :: incomprehensibility.

# lef breaks with the traditions of literary art. poetry demands reportage. the replenishment of the armoury of words. an art of disputation of the russian revolution [w. benjamin]. poetic codes, word material of socio-political conditions. formal innovations. repetitions, patterns of sound + consonant clusters. in lef 3 sergei eisenstein published his first theoretical essay montage of attractions and dziga vertov developed the theory of his conception of the kino-glaz [film-eye, i.e. the camera lens that views + reproduces every detail of the world objectively through the technique of the montage: kino-pravda, that is, the rejection of any form of staging]. publication of manifestos against the feature film. poetry as an expression of the author’s social consciousness, referring to immediate reality + encompassing the spectrum of avant-garde literature from the first half of the 1920s. from 1925 onwards, one distances oneself from futurism, since it is considered bourgeois + regressive owing to its pre-revolutionary reputation. the collectivist spirit of the early revolutionary years is shared, but subordinated to the goals of poetry. [trotsky points out in his study literature and revolution that the futurists belonged to the milieu of the intelligentsia + demonstrated no contact with revolutionary practice].

# 1924 after the death of lenin mayakovsky wins over the linguists + poetry theoreticians allied to russian formalism y. tynyanov, l. yakubinski + v.   shklovsky [who belong to the society for the study of poetic language + are close to the marxist teachings] for lef 5, essays on lenin’s language and style. for mayakovsky the analysis of lenin’s linguistic practice is the key to understanding the politician + his actions. in lef 7 [1925], mayakovsky contributes the poem vladimir ilyich lenin, which he finds extraordinary challenging + for which he requires ten months of works — in secret, with no one knowing of it. pursuing the line of the revolutionary significant. the spasms of the glottis. writing against the bourgeois, religious baritone of everyday life, the recurring, conformist stereotypes [‘byt’]. the latently vibrating echo chamber of a destabilising social order. mayakovsky realises that the revolution has not gone far enough. later it will betray him [not the other way around]. it will be the last issue of lef for the time being.

# novyi lef first appeared in january 1927 [monthly in an edition of 1,500 copies], seeing itself as a free association of all workers of left-wing revolutionary art + foregrounding the social mission of art for society, the experiences of a changing reality. in issue no. 2 sergei tretyakov raises the alarm, the ‘leftist radical art’ of lef + novyi lef seeing itself exposed to the attacks of the culture of good taste + economic profitability, the levelling of militant forms + tendencies by the entire academic front [of a standardised paint-by-numbers art]. the mood of alarm + the struggles continue to the end of novyi lef.

# tretyakov’s texts aim at an intervening art of the operating poet, a de-individualisation + de-professionalisation of writing. he opposes the concealment of writing procedures, demands their exhibition + free availability, an internationalisation of art. a starting point is the simultaneity of different moments, the common situation in different times + countries. tretyakov’s operational aesthetic, which takes up ideas of production-line art and attraction art [as in sergei eisenstein], as well as documentary + montage art [dziga vertov, rodchenko + el lissitzky], is considered a particularly militant art. in an introduction to field commanders he writes that the operating sketch writer replaces the informing one [not merely depicting life, but shaping it anew].

# tretyakov writes the last article of the final edition at the end of 1928. in 1919 the art of the commune was aborted, in 1924 the old lef dried up, in 1928 the new lef was aborted. but our work is not worth a penny if we do not flow into the sea — into the sea of the masses. the title of his text: to be continued.

 

Translated by Jonathan Styles

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