THE AMERICAS SOCIETY
Life leaps out at you,
determined, combative, mute
forces of the West, facing East
from the world is round to rap
the genetic code instructs specific cells
one of a population of molecules
weaving neurons into integral circuits
physical factors, metabolic or toxic factors
injury or trauma, insult, toxic agents
insult, injury, trauma--toxic agents
wreck the clockwork on the neural assembly line
one concept is something could influence a genome
to change position on the chain and change
(trauma can result in structural change)
children who do not play
why do we die [extinct]
a contaminant from a poplar tree
supply a specific gene to modify a product
life is product (life as product)
famine people of the 3rd world
they stay in the television
they conjure up ideas
"a group of neurologists,
who argued that electrical signals in the bodies of whites and blacks
flow in opposite directions"
The (multiculturalist-nationalist) argument
for separate and equal coexistence (ethnic purity)
reinscribes a subtler, more sophisticated apartheid.
The transformative effect of the journey
that space is a dynamic field in which identities
are in a constant state of interaction
"the obligations and responsibilities that are drawn
from day-to-day and face-to-face contact"
"the proletarian writers have been officially recognized
as such (despite Trotsky)," WB, Moscow Diary, 12/9/26
"There is little recognition of the possibility that as modernity
has been dispersed across the globe, parallel or even revolutionary
expressions of modernism have been articulated in non-metropolitan
If the sign of difference in origin were no longer discredited,
then our conceptual frameworks for cultural translation might be expanded
through an understanding of the relationship between different practices
Cultural exchange is a precondition of art, and therefore attention
to its processes can not just register the transcendental signs of value
or taste, but issue an inventory of the dynamics of change."
Can one culture meet another and interact without domination?
("the paradox of conquest: distantiation and penetration")
"'caught in the web of signs that are all too consumable'"
(Towards a New Internationalism in the Visual Arts, 1994)
How can one cultural practice submerge itself in another, absorbed.
The prospect of the possibility of effacement, dissolving
one's language and forgetting (overcoming) 'Americanness'
or 'Westernness' or whatever is meant by the term, Modern
(Metropolitan?) applied to the description of an art,
though there may be no going outside Modernism,
so that it becomes a question of trajectory and inflection.
The problem of words within the practice of a language art.
"a love destroyed by men and by words"
EJ, "And You Shall Be In the Book"
"A voice was seen [once] exhibiting its words"
EJ, "And You Shall Be In the Book"
"I am beautiful because I am the words
which enhance me through your mouth."
"I do not know if I killed you or if you died
on the threshold of an impossible love."
Here is someone who knows to what point
the book can be lost.
How could it have been taken from me
(now that it has been taken from me)
"While I was working in Cinema Rex,
Katarina Zivanovic, the chief of Rex,
was oftenly mentioning some Syndicate international mailing list.
Once I asked her how to subscribe, but she turned me away
from that idea, telling me that the list bothers
and there's not much of interesting stuff there.
But after I left Rex,
I decided to check that Syndicate anyway,
and I have become a Syndicalist at the same time
when I discovered nettime. And I've learnt
that Katarina was right: the list bothers.
Various hot activists, ASCII artists and
other spammers fill your inbox every day."
ONES & ZEROES
A chill passed through me. Inordinate power
is absolute: in any encounter with it, every effort
at movement demonstrates a lack of fear.
The manipulated response by the controlled subject
is the only method by which such power can know itself,
as it cannot unbecome itself, once it is inordinate
(power). The fingers rest at the keyboard, waiting.
The brain says, Try one more time, cautiously
and carefully. The fingers, delicately and imperceptibly,
start to type. The inexperienced fingers
of a calligrapher. The fingers stop and become motionless.
The fingers have felt a strange pain. They felt it;
they sent a signal to the writer's brain; the brain
responded--someone is watching. They are watching
the letters as they are typed. They are counting
the spaces between letters, Someone is watching
and measuring (monitoring). They investigate.
The experienced monitors of human behavior.
Skilled, they set traps for reflexes, determined
to capture a thought: the thought whether they
are the thought that is being thought or not.
They want to make the brain think it should give up
but it doesn't give up, not yet. It makes the fingers
keep on typing, keep on feeling pain, the tormenting
of being watched without the ability to see who or what
is watching, examining, producing the shadow of a thought
in the monitor, the other side of the screen in the monitor.
Almost every second the fingers are sending a message
to the brain. Almost every moment the brain sends a signal--
watched! They are watching. Someone or something is watching,
counting the weight and speed of the keys as they are pressed.
I couldn't tear myself away from this spectacle, and watched,
fascinated, watching my words being watched, the letters
(almost) typed for me. Someone or something was watching,
controlling the thought that got typed, its microscopic
movements, responsive tremors, sensitivity, until everything
surrounding the one that is watched causes stress, reducing
the subject to a condition of helplessness, and despair.
The controlled subject must be made to believe
nothing can be changed in the reality surrounding him,
"and I was designated a secret prisoner." Surveillance
and domination, intimidation, enforced suggestion.
An invasion [of privacy] that violates all principles of human rights.
Get what they want and let the people that live there rot.
"They shot at everything that moved. Everything that moved they shot."
(A worker's voice from "The Panama Deception").
"There was a case of some number but I cannot quote to you
that number." (General Thurman, on the discovery of mass graves).
The commanders of commands
proceeded to gather data like historical variations
on the length of penises. A displacement
in space and time accompanied by a process
of dehumanization: the one who wanders
(if he doesn't die along the way)
has been stripped of human dignity.
He knows now what it is to be a thing, a trifle, a toy.
For a politics of recognition based on equal dignity.
"But the politics of cultural ownership . . ."
The problem with a documentary photography that implements
a surveillance technique, objectifying its subject,
and reducing the condition of homelessness to a discrete
image or portrait of destitution, hunger and poverty,
without threatening either the viewer or the maker
of the image. How can the art of taking and making
pictures dispossess itself and represent the severity
of the reduction of the barest terms of survival,
the interstital and liminal moments, a marker
of the fictive limits of the political imaginary
the processes of exchange and translation can barely
be made still long enough to coalesce into the shape
of a cultural object. The non-materiality
the complexities of the interactions that can occur
among the "Enlightenment logics of linear development"
("Pathfinder was born with the October Revolution")
"No code claims foundations stronger than the conviction
of its followers and their determination to abide by its rules."
(Zygmunt Bauman, Intimations of Postmodernity)
There are other signs
are there, are there other signs?
Or are there only the relations between signs?
That there is no linguistic equivalence
or pure transfer, "that the process
of communication is always polysemic
and that 'as a result of translation
terms are transformed; they no longer
mean what they meant in either
the source or the target language.'"
"the incommensurability or the intransigence of languages"
The silence of scars
or leave the wound open
the gaps and slants
disrupting or transforming
there is no mirroring back of a primary,
first, original mirroring
translation deepens the shadows
or does the poem withdraw
into an unapproachable silence?
the modality of translation as being somewhere
between poetry and doctrine
(magnetic fields) determinate sequences
the restrictive construction of a subject, ideological purity
the ambiguities that separate creativity from derivation
"when the boundaries of both languages are stretched
to the point of touching" ENCOMPASSING
"Just as a tangent touches a circle lightly
at but one point, with this touch rather than with the point
setting the law according to which it is to continue
on its straight path to infinity, a translation
touches the original lightly and only at the infinitely
small point of the sense. . . ."
(The Task of the Translator)
One language kisses another
"the romantic idea that creativity lies at the margins
of social existence" KISSED
the impermissible other from the social margins
the proletarian figure (fissure)
understanding as a process formed though interaction
"that the ethical space of love in translation
depends on recognizing the limits of equivalence"
intransigence: there is no meeting place
(that was not my face you . . .
(that was not your face I . . .
"Transparency of meaning, universal application
and fixed identity are the impossible conditions
upon which the language of colonial violence rests."
Transparency of meaning, universal application
and fixed identity are the impossible conditions
upon which the language of class violence rests?
The Panama Deception
directs attention to the dirty politics of empire.
The duplicities and unambiguous consequences
of colonialism (mass graves)
The duplicities and unambiguous consequences
of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism
(mass graves) MASS GRAVES
with civilians in them discovered in Panama
after the invasion, some of them on U.S. bases
The complex patterns of cultural exchange and transformations
include military invasion (economic expansion),
economic exchange (privatization) and intellectual curiosity
(cultural hegemony) "its calm call for tolerance
as long as it maintains a distance from the conflict"
The universalist (enlightenment/humanitarian) [marxist-leninist]
perspective presupposes that all cultures have a common foundation
and that foundation is founded on the experience of social class,
articulated by the proposition that history depends on it, the
to move the nations from one form of society to a profoundly new one,
where property relations are transformed, and with this change
the consciousness and social relations of individuals regardless
of the cultural specificity of their differences
Can there be a more radical proposition than that which claims
social class overcomes cultural difference,
and that the relation of groups of people and collective forms
of organization to the means of production determines
the consciousness and social being of individuals?
The Turbulence of Migration: "Class interest can no longer
be raised above other social divisions like gender and race."
Race and Gender illuminate the working class.
Industry created the proletariat, not philosophy.
Without a concept of social class, all contingencies
must remain ontological, outside history.
"Gaps within a cultural system are exposed more precisely
in a boundary situation. The bilingual speaker in the boundary situation
is, however, not always a bridging person. Recognition of differences
does not always facilitate the flow of traffic across the boundary,
it can also involve the recognition of an abyss
that separated incompatible world-views. The process of translation
may recognize the similitude and differences between rival concepts
but it does not always provide a mechanism for defining compatibility."
Can the truth of a word only be discovered in its movement
from one language to another?
"The figure of the hybrid is extended to serve
as a 'bridging person,' one that is both the benefactor of a cultural
and the embodiment of a new synthesis.
However, this benign view of hybridity has a number of limitations.
By stressing the hybrid's positive achievement of reconciliation
between cultural differences it blurs the very relational process
that hybridity ought to highlight. In the rush to find an alternative
to agressive and chauvinistic forms of identity, the concept of hybridity
has frequently been promoted to the position of a new form of global
This celebration of identity as hybridity has failed to pay sufficient
to the deeper logic of accumulation and consumption that frames modern
In a society where the principle that dominates social relations is not
but consumption, hybridity is often reduced to the occasional experience
of exotic commodities which can be repackaged to sustain the insatiable
in new forms of cultural identity. Hybridity, as a metaphor for identity
formation, can only function critically when the dual forces of movement
and bridging, displacement and connection are seen as operating together."
Manchester University, 2000
"Maybe the major conflict that we face today is the fact that we possess
a literature that has gained its own freedom to struggle in that field
[the conflict that surges from reality ("profit payments/force
the struggle between life and imagination]. A literature that has overcome
the isolation, the blockade, the aesthetics and ideological norms,
the thinking of inside and outside of schools and literary chapels.
A literature that has overcome the incomprehensions of circumstantial
limits of a cultural policy or the adverse situations of our own economy,
a literature that continues rising in its diversity, in its beauty
and in its questioning right in the middle of a crisis that--even though
we have been able to detain in the printing field thanks to the efforts
of our cultural institutions--is unable yet to guarantee the authentic
of our work. This is the second level of our conflict. It is limiting
the Cuban literature boom that is beginning to develop at a national
and international level. In principle, all culture is ours. If before,
thanks to the Revolution that created a reading public, and a printing
as well as a national net of libraries, we have published in Cuba
writers as Thomas Mann, August Strindberg, Marcel Proust, Kafka,
Robert Musil, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Orwell, Faulkner, Hemingway,
Soyinka, Cesaire, Mishima, Cortazar, Pablo Neruda, Garcia Marquez,
and Borges and a lot more writers of that time. Right now we need
that same space in order to diffuse new writers from any latitude,
in order to introduce our new writers and to rescue all of our work
of national culture, now dispersed all through the world.
I don't like solemn phrases, but this is a cyclopean task for our culture,
restrained by the economic re-adjustment of our country
that is a victim of a terrible blockade directly or indirectly imposed
by the United States of America government as never before.
It compels us to compete in the world market with centrifugal forces
that not always judge the quality of literature for its publishing,
but only its possibility of becoming profitable merchandise when on the
To write in Cuba today means to accept that challenge.
It means to develop a kind of literature that has to open its own road
in order to protect author rights, to promote its work, remake
the editing industry, establish interchanges of editions, attract the
and diffuse and promote books and the reader's public participation.
It means to continure working here with the conscience of our freedom
and the limits imposed by our time."
Havana, Feb. 28 1998
between collective and individual identity
disjunctive and double temporalities
and to have a place and voice somewhere
what exists within and between
The identity of the migrant, the stranger, the other
might begin to be defined, if all identity is defined
in relation to difference, by the foreigner's relation
to the process of identification and entanglement,
absorbing the language of another time and place,
and forgetting whatever it was that once resembled
a native tongue, or by making strange the language
in which one happened to be born and raised, oppressed
and dazed. Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves.
The glaring emptiness of any concept of culture
and cultural difference unaccompanied by the critical lever
of the category and material substance, subsistence,
insistence, called social class. The resolution of conflict
intended by the discourse of cultural translation,
understanding, and coexistence occludes the recognition
of the need for conflict which is the terrible truth
and responsibility announced in the energy with which philosophy
answered history in 1848, according to Walter Benjamin.
There is no nice way to phrase an accomodation to empire.
In the wish for a theory of culture
capable of defining the condition of its own existence
without presupposing an opposition to other cultures
the turning away from class conflict is proposed
from within a position of being above "conflict"
the material-dialectical contingencies of war.
The conviction that a moral order can be built somehow
outside the prerogative of the mass grave is deeply linked
to the historical experience of the previous decade,
whether the 21st century begins on the Road to Basra
or the incineration of working class neighborhoods
in Panama City in mid-December, 1989.
By the terms of a treaty signed in 1977,
there should have been no U.S. troops stationed
in the Panama Canal Zone after December 31, 1999.