Monday, November 19, 2012

community, existentialism, and revolution

He doesn't care about actual political change; any revolution short of everyone quitting their jobs to ride bicycles, become vegetarians, and write poetry isn't worth his time. 

If, one day, the people want to live, then fate will answer their call.
And their night will then begin to fade, and their chains break and fall.
For he who is not embraced by life’s passion will dissipate into thin air,
Woe to him whom life loves not, against the void that strikes there,
At least that is what all creation has told me, and what its hidden spirits declare...

the affectively-charged atmosphere of the mass protest allows this language to enter the political sphere in all seriousness.  The mass protest (no matter the topic) is inherently political as a demonstration of virtual worlds.  It hews its participants from an atomized life and presses them together in a thick mess of "life's passion."  The giddiness we saw in the anonymous of hacktivism is atomization and a felt loss of agency taken to their logical extremes and suddenly replaced by community and a felt knowledge of the power of collective action.  But if complete subjectivism (atomization) is not to be exalted; we cannot look too far and un-self-critically in the opposite direction-- the uniformed faces and memes of anonymous seem ripe for parody as a self-styled insistence on all-but-fascist uniformity. /From history: 'Fate', 'passion' and 'community' were buzzwords of german romantics and existentialists who supported and/or were co-opted by the national socialists (qtd poem written 1933- some common influences i'm sure).  The unity of existential themes and revolution is not coincidence.  They both speak to a preponderance of affect, stemming from this movement into community and the following momentum of collective action (although this is not the sole reason).

How to strike a balance between subject and community, btwn uselessness and momentum (both of which preclude agency)? 

 the analogy seems to arise: subject : community :: reason : affect.

Useful?  I think only if "reason" is very specifically conceived.  ahmed talks convincingly on affective magnifications wrought by circulation.  Reason tends to be more objective, therefore paradoxically depending on only the individual subject.  It's not really prone to momentum- Repeatable results, knowable variables don't resonate like fate.  For an interesting discussion of how reason meets community and moderates between the two, possibly check out Hannah Arendt's fantastic lectures on Kant's political thought, where reason is conceived as a dialectical mode, dependent on a social other even in its silent, internal form.  (i used to think of my internal dialogs as an unbecoming symptom of insecurity- no longer!  I am a social being, and my maxims are not private because I am not evil!)

Also- when ted talks about the shifting perceptions of palestinian youth (movement from victims to perpetrators as they enter adolescence)- fantastic.

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