RE: how to defeat activism

wade tillett on Fri, 2 Aug 2002 04:30:07 +0200 (CEST)

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RE: <nettime> how to defeat activism

“It becomes clear that the antagonistic attitude of Lenin is only the mirroring of its other side: dependency and a forced establishing of independence by the very destruction of the life-basis. The intellectuals and artists, however, saw themselves by definition as part and parcel of bourgeous structures, despite the fact that they were located on its fringes. They, contrary to political revolutionaries such as Lenin, were in most cases ready to admit this and to deal with it aesthetically.” (9) “Solzhenitsyn describes at length the aversion that Lenin otherwise had to anything joyful in life, especially to the festivities of Carnival. It seems to be just this heaviness, this rigid exclusion of all that is uncontrollable (…) that lies at the heart of both the bourgeouis and Marxist-Leninist world-modeling and that, in the end, made for the failure of the planned revolution as we know it.”(10) “What Lenin had recognized – that ‘the revolutionary had to be able to dream’ in order to create a new reality – he had only been able to apply with regard to assumed (…) meanings of the world, but not with regard to the structure of dreams (…)”(12) “…the crucial error made by all ideological discourse: the reductionist orientation toward a specific goal…”(14) “If, as in Marxist-Leninist ideology, social conditions are seen as the only influence on being, its dialectic aim of course had to be to reverse that world order…. This is a mirroring model of conflict that only substitutes one element with another, leaving the linear, oppositional structure untouched…. This ideological attitude (…) presupposes that all human self-development is only suppressed by the upper classes. Since the relation betweent the two – as an element in its own right – is left out, however, they develop their own dynamics….”(15) “Thus, in the end, the revolt of the art movement was able to pass the political revolt, being less in- and less exclusive, more bold and stark and, possibly, more indifferent, referentially indifferent. The Dada artists condemned all ideology, all planned revolutions. For them only chaos and chance would lead to new systems of inquiry untainted by the discourses of an old order; this necessarily had to result in resistance from that system which was geared toward the substitution of one system of order by another.” (15) “It can be destruction and construction at the same time, since it is a relational and not an oppositional concept. The ‘countermyths’ of the Dadas therefore don’t necessarily have to be a ‘No’ against rationality and the belief in technological advancement. Dada’s irrationality is not a ‘counter’ against rationality; it points more into the direction of a simultaneity of rationality and irrationality within the same issues.” (19) “… to explore a mode that would enable us to concretely live the necessary contradictions inherent in our constructions, to mentally visualize those gaps that necessarily develop in our attempts to make sense, and to be able to become ‘indifferent’ enough toward our own attempts at making sense to not only realize that they are bulwarks against the insecurity of not knowing, but also to allow for a continuation of emotional involvement as well as a foothold for those flights of fancy that might carry us too far.” (20) -All quotes above from Brigitte Pichon’s essay “Revisiting Spie(ge)lgasse: Mirror(s) and Prism(s), Cultural and Political Stagings of Emigration and Liminality” in Dada Zurich: A Clown’s Game from Nothing, 1996. # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism, # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets # more info: and “info nettime-l” in the msg body # archive: contact: