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LEISURE, cunninglinguals issue, Londra, UK
beyond the cathode homelands
Networking springs from the realisation that what you say is not readily exclusive from how you say it.
Western societies rely in every sphere of their activities on a system of binary oppositions, polarities, crudely put: good and bad. Masculine / feminine, sameness / difference, black / white, man(sic) / nature, spiritual / material. This extreme-ism defines the parameters of possible thought and action from the development of technology - it was congenial to traditional scientific thought(and therefore cheaper) for computers to be developed along binary systems (On or Off)-to economic structure, property owners/dispossessed, and through to cultural work - High / Low culture.
This might not seem so remarkable if the polarised relationship was defined by equality, symbiosis, but within this framework one of the two terms necessarily implies a position of dominance over the other,placed as its opposite or "other" it is the subordinate.
The two terms are structured so that the dominant term is accorded superiority. The dominant term is always seen as the positive. It is seen as the permanent term around which the other negotiates existence in terms of its negative image. Pop is always seen in the shadow of The Classics . The dominant term derives its privilege from a curtailment and suppression of its opposite. Nature always suffers at the hand of the human, Male Art is seen as superior to mail art.
This oppositional structure and its implicit system of values is not given or immutable but the result of the split enforced from above, the dominant term or position. That is to say that the weaker part of the polarity has the terms by which it can negotiate its difference constructed entirely in terms of the stronger force. In this way women have no choice but to struggle to get the same boring jobs that men have usually reserved for themselves, together (hopefully) as a class they struggle for a better quality of life from the class who own the planet, and back at home, the man -back in superior mode- reduces the woman into his "other" while attempting to define his character in the rigid terms enforced from above. She is the hole of his existence while he is the whole of hers. Hearse. The raw materials for existence and expression are controlled by those who have the on/off switch. Remember any articles, TV interviews or programs during the famine there made by Ethiopians? The way we saw the famine and the way we were able to react towards it was defined by the way in which it was mediated to us. We were able to buy Live Aid, reposition the information allowed us by personalising it - writing to a newspaper, member of parliament, or by donating wages fought for from the same financial system whose walls surrounded the people we were apparently sending it to. During the Gulf War we were allowed nothing but the response of fear because of the optimism of those in power.
And so is any action against the superior position already contained by the relationship which creates that action? Yes. Yes that is if the action is only negotiated on those terms. Yes, if strikes are only legaland nothing more. Yes, if love is only in the family. Yes if creativity is kept within the boundaries of High Culture. Reversing the position of power simply creates a new dominance.
Another attitude is called for, one that neither works from a position of dominance nor accepts the path delineated for the submissive. This attitude must realize that it is impossible to destroy these structures from the outside - because there is no outside. There's no primeval never never land. We inhabit this particular territory, and by inhabiting it we take up space -physically and culturally- with what we absorb, displace and discharge, and with this poshioning we also orientate the activities of others around ourselves.
Allow certain conjunctions, disallow others, twist theinevitable. The attitude not only contradicts but exceeds the structure of opposites. Indefinable, maniplating the terms ot both sides of an opposition. Applied with pressure at points depending on the personal or group situation it creates ruptures and cracks in the system from which it explodes. We remember that the dominant terms only exist through reaping the benefits of our productivity. We cannot maintain this generosity for long.
Through out history people have changed the terms on which their creative activity functions, to extend the parameters of their possible involvements. From workers organizations to health clinics to the early surrealist automatism to youth cultures the process of self control intimately entwined with that of decontrol has been a constant factor for people attempting to reshape their world. History is always written by the victors. What was not written was never defeated, not thoroughly contained. What was not written survives and rolls back the boundaries of power by not engaging in the language - the coded terms of engagement defined by law.
The negative imprint of history implies a whole black economy of subterfuge and sabotage.
A rereading creates the gaps and opens up holes.
An active inscription of present engagement creates boundaries through which power cannot pass and through which new currents might slip. Traditional dueling rules allow the challenger to name the terrain on which the opposition is to take place while the challenged may choose the weapon. Combat is formalized by the aggressor. The response with attitude is to step outside of these terms and spend the night on the phone ringing your opponent up, choose feathers as the instruments of combat or get a mate to sneak round his back with a sharp knife.
Groups who choose to deal with the totality, the sum of polarities that they encounter, have surfaced from each area of engagement; agriculture - the Diggers' reclamation of land at the time of the English Civil War, the ecology and occasionally the animal liberation movements. At the levels of their structural and empiric repression women have chosen to engage with power systems and personal relationships by using collective methods of organization. People who sell their time and energy to someone with money, property or greater force in order to live, joining together, in order to extract greater advantages from their labour either by taking control over what they're doing completely or just by getting more money off the boss. There are countless areas where different antagonisms intersect, as many areas as there are people, movements and spaces.
In every area the structure most often chosen to deal with the vertical polarity of the powerful and those whose power they deny is correspondingly horizontal. This is not to say that this structure becomes instantly perfect, the mentality of survival in present conditions is not easily shed. But it does provide a mechanism with which the structure can be engaged without instantly assuming the role of the already defeated. This horizontality positions itself against closure, against the separation of experience into discipline, against the reduction of politics to a shallow economism, against the reduction of culture to a puerile search for novelty.
A term used to describe this horizontal structuring has been networking. First taken up in the activity of mail artists, performers, musicians, economic experimenters, magazine producers, sculptors, writers, political activists and others who made up Fluxus it aptly describes the semi-formalized but consistently fluctuating attitude. The term has also been used to describe an engagement with the false oppositions setup internally; intellect / emotions, internal / external. The network is infinitely flexible, a-centred in opposition to the single or multi-centred, every point on the network is detachable, connectable, reversible and changeable, non-hierarchical it evades the imposition of meaning both from itself onto others and from the above, which it supercedes and destroys, onto itself. Like light, a simultaneous wave and particle. Points on the network are only defined by their instant state,activities of connected points are realised locally, asynchronicity without imposed precomposition. These points are moments, decided on by no one but those composing them - a million Popular Fronts. There is no peak of intensity to be reached, no point of pure talent,no pilgrimage but a flux of trajectories. The gay incendiaries do not seek a liberation of desires without priority, a dissolution of the self in wash of undifferentiated desire. When the cops fuck off they or any otherslike them must not return. A structure that sustains the negation of the cop, and embodied with unleashed creativity, displaces the polarity of power, while providing somewhere to fix up your charred fingers is neccesary. No margins and no heroes, only us.