Saturday, 20 August 2011

Down town: 10 exercises upon the idea that rioters are produced by riots

“Yes,” she said, “I was a communard. Thanks be to God, I was a Communard! And those people whom I named, Mesdames, were evil and cruel. They let the people of Paris starve; they oppressed and wronged the poor. Thanks be to God, I stood upon a barricade; I loaded the gun for my menfolk! But all the same, Mesdames, I shall not go back to Paris, now that those people of whom I have spoken are no longer there ... You see, Mesdames,” she said at last “ those people belonged to me, they were mine. They had been brought up and trained, with greater expense than you, my little ladies, could ever imagine or believe, to understand what a great artist I am. I could make them happy. When I did my very best I could make them perfectly happy.” 
Babette’s Feast

At the site where materialised logics converge and reach their critical moment together, and thus express their radical incompatibility, it is to be expected that some fragment of population is designated as actant and carrier of crisis. 

There is a retroactive expectancy, discovered in hindsight, and expressed in the proverb cometh the hour, cometh the man, which recognises how it all played out and could not have been otherwise. But the truth of this proverb is only truly realised in relation to junctures of extraordinary stress. The proverb being not of the moment but about the moment. Discourse does not seize hold of the event but accesses only other discourses concerning the event, to which is added explanation and confirmation of this or that ideology. The event itself remains finally inexplicable, autonomous of interpretation, confirming all and no explanations. 

The man of the proverb (in this case the August mules) may only be measured against what has occurred exceptionally, and of which exceptionality he is always the product, and never the author. He appears in the historical discourse not the event itself. He is uncomfortable in the event, he cannot be made quite to fit it, without it distorting him. His hour is always grotesquely late and he must appear retroactively at its displaced centre, as an overladen mule, as a knot of quivering muscle, giving tortured shape to what has just passed and being held somehow, absurdly, responsible. The man demonstrably recites his lines, rehearses his shapes, becomes the signal of the star that has already died.