read the full interview here: http://www.versobooks.com/blogs/1878-stathis-kouvelakis-going-on-this-way-can-only-mean-defeat
February 25, 2015
February 24, 2015
February 13, 2015
This much I have learnt from my many years in journalism, watching case after case where the cover-up, rather than the original crime, has been the destructive factor.
The Watergate scandal in the United States was the classic case. The original incident, when agents of president Richard Nixon’s Republican administration broke into a room in Washington’s Watergate Hotel to steal a few documents containing information about the Democratic Party’s election plans, was a relatively minor crime. It was Nixon’s desperate attempts to cover up the petty burglary that destroyed him, forcing him to resign the presidency and sending some members of his administration to jail.
The Washington Post broke the story, a paper for which I later worked for 13 years under the editorship of the renowned Benjamin Bradlee. It was from Bradlee that I learnt the ultimate lesson in damage control.
Not long after exposing the Watergate scandal, the Washington Post landed up in a scandal of its own. One of its star reporters, Janet Cooke, who was young, bright and black, wrote a vivid series of reports for the paper about an 8-year-old drug addict named Jimmy who was regularly shot up by his mother’s live-in lover. The poignant story, serialised on page one, held the city in thrall for weeks. It won Cooke the Pulitzer Prize for feature reporting in 1981.
Then, as leaks began appearing, Janet Cooke confessed that she had made it all up. Jimmy had never existed.
For Bradley, the hero of Watergate, this was as grave a crisis as any journalist could experience. What to do about it?
As Bradley was to write in his memoirs: “Thanks to Watergate, I had learned a vitally important lesson: The truth is the best defence, and the whole truth is the very best defence.”
He asked the paper’s ombudsman, Bill Green, to find out all he could about how the Washington Post’s editing system had failed and allowed Janet Cooke’s fiction to be published as fact. He wanted the roles of everyone involved in the story, himself including, and be named and their failures exposed in detail.
And he wanted it published prominently. Which it was four days later, all 18 000 words of it.
Today no one remembers the Janet Cooke case, while Watergate has become the epitome of political skulduggery world-wide.
first published here: http://www.news24.com/Columnists/AllisterSparks/What-Zuma-should-say-during-State-of-the-Nation-address-20150211
February 12, 2015
EFF Chair Bernard Joseph given orders to disrupt Press Conference of Honorable Andile Mngxitama at all costs.
Bernard Joseph, Chairperson of EFF Western Cape ordered thugs from Khayelitsha with no EFF branding to come to press conference and beat up EFF MPs Andile Mngxitama and Khanyisile Litchfield Tshabalala.
Bernard Joseph interrupted honorable Andile Mngxitama before he could speak to media today at a press conference at the Southern Sun Hotel in Cape Town. Joseph said that he was given instructions from leadership to disrupt the press conference at all costs as it was not authorised by the Secretary General of EFF, Godrich Gardee.
Shortly after he spoke fighters started chanting “Sit down Bernard!” Fighters that supported Joseph started singing back. Shortly afterwards a signal was given to thugs from Khayalitsha to attack MPs Andile Mngxitama and Khanyisile Litchfeild Tshabalala.
Under duress MPs were escorted out of the press conference room.
Whatever fighter Mngxitama wanted to reveal today has made EFF leadership resort to gangster tactics to silence him.
EFF wants Zuma to #Paybackthemoney, they should also allow their fighters the freedom of speech they fight for in Parliament.
12 February 2015
February 11, 2015
February 10, 2015
February 9, 2015
February 8, 2015
February 7, 2015
The formula of pathetic identification ‘I am …’ (or ‘We are all …’) only functions within certain limits, beyond which it turns into obscenity. We can proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie,’ but things start to crumble with examples like ‘We all live in Sarajevo!’ or ‘We are all in Gaza!’ The brutal fact that we are not all in Sarajevo or Gaza is too strong to be covered up by a pathetic identification. Such identification becomes obscene in the case of Muselmänner, the living dead in Auschwitz. It is not possible to say: ‘We are all Muselmänner!’ In Auschwitz, the dehumanisation of victims went so far that identifying with them in any meaningful sense is impossible. (And, in the opposite direction, it would also be ridiculous to declare solidarity with the victims of 9/11 by claiming ‘We are all New Yorkers!’ Millions would say: ‘Yes, we would love to be New Yorkers, give us a visa!’)
The same goes for the killings last month: it was relatively easy to identify with the Charlie Hebdo journalists, but it would have been much more difficult to announce: ‘We are all from Baga!’ (For those who don’t know: Baga is a small town in the north-east of Nigeria where Boko Haram executed two thousand people.) The name ‘Boko Haram’ can be roughly translated as ‘Western education is forbidden,’ specifically the education of women. How to account for the weird fact of a massive sociopolitical movement whose main aim is the hierarchic regulation of the relationship between the sexes? Why do Muslims who were undoubtedly exposed to exploitation, domination and other destructive and humiliating aspects of colonialism, target in their response the best part (for us, at least) of the Western legacy, our egalitarianism and personal freedoms, including the freedom to mock all authorities? One answer is that their target is well chosen: the liberal West is so unbearable because it not only practises exploitation and violent domination, but presents this brutal reality in the guise of its opposite: freedom, equality and democracy.
Back to the spectacle of big political names from all around the world holding hands in solidarity with the victims of the Paris killings, from Cameron to Lavrov, from Netanyahu to Abbas: if there was ever an image of hypocritical falsity, this was it. An anonymous citizen played Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’, the unofficial anthem of the European Union, as the procession passed under his window, adding a touch of political kitsch to the disgusting spectacle staged by the people most responsible for the mess we are in. If the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, were to join such a march in Moscow, where dozens of journalists have been murdered, he would be arrested immediately. And the spectacle was literally staged: the pictures shown in the media gave the impression that the line of political leaders was at the front of a large crowd walking along an avenue. But another photo was taken of the entire scene from above, clearly showing that behind the politicians there were only a hundred or so people and a lot of empty space, patrolled by police, behind and around them. The true Charlie Hebdo gesture would have been to publish on its front page a big caricature brutally and tastelessly mocking this event.
As well as the banners saying ‘Je suis Charlie!’ there were others that said ‘Je suis flic!’ The national unity celebrated and enacted in large public gatherings was not just the unity of the people, reaching across ethnic groups, classes and religions, but also the unification of the people with the forces of order and control – not only the police but also the CRS (one of the slogans of May 1968 was ‘CRS-SS’), the secret service and the entire state security apparatus. There is no place for Snowden or Manning in this new universe. ‘Resentment against the police is no longer what it was, except among poor youth of Arab or African origins,’ Jacques-Alain Miller wrote last month. ‘A thing undoubtedly never seen in the history of France.’ In short, the terrorist attacks achieved the impossible: to reconcile the generation of ’68 with its arch enemy in something like a French popular version of the Patriot Act, with people offering themselves up to surveillance.
The ecstatic moments of the Paris demonstrations were a triumph of ideology: they united the people against an enemy whose fascinating presence momentarily obliterates all antagonisms. The public was offered a depressing choice: you are either a flic or a terrorist. But how does the irreverent humour of Charlie Hebdo fit in? To answer this question, we need to bear in mind the interconnection between the Decalogue and human rights, which, as Kenneth Reinhard and Julia Reinhard Lupton have argued, are ultimately rights to violate the Ten Commandments. The right to privacy is a right to commit adultery. The right to own property is a right to steal (to exploit others). The right to freedom of expression is a right to bear false witness. The right to bear arms is a right to kill. The right to freedom of religious belief is a right to worship false gods. Of course, human rights do not directly condone the violation of the Commandments, but they keep open a marginal grey zone that is supposed to be out of the reach of (religious or secular) power. In this shady zone I can violate the commandments, and if the power probes into it, catching me with my pants down, I can cry: ‘Assault on my basic human rights!’ The point is that it is structurally impossible, for the power, to draw a clear line of separation and prevent only the misuse of a human right without infringing on its proper use, i.e. the use that does not violate the Commandments.
It is in this grey zone that the brutal humour of Charlie Hebdo belongs. The magazine began in 1970 as a successor to Hara-Kiri, a magazine banned for mocking the death of General de Gaulle. After an early reader’s letter accused Hara-Kiri of being ‘dumb and nasty’ (‘bête et méchant’), the phrase was adopted as the magazine’s official slogan and made it into everyday language. It would have been more appropriate for the thousands marching in Paris to proclaim ‘Je suis bête et méchant’ than the flat Je suis Charlie.’
Refreshing as it could be in some situations, Charlie Hebdo’s ‘bête et méchant’ stance is constrained by the fact that laughter is not in itself liberating, but deeply ambiguous. In the popular view of Ancient Greece, there is a contrast between the solemn aristocratic Spartans and the merry democratic Athenians. But the Spartans, who prided themselves on their severity, placed laughter at the centre of their ideology and practice: they recognised communal laughter as a power that helped to increase the glory of the state. Spartan laughter – the brutal mockery of a humiliated enemy or slave, making fun of their fear and pain from a position of power – found an echo in Stalin’s speeches, when he scoffed at the panic and confusion of ‘traitors’, and survives today. (Incidentally, it is to be distinguished from another kind of laughter of those in power, the cynical derision that shows they don’t take their own ideology seriously.) The problem with Charlie Hebdo’s humour is not that it went too far in its irreverence, but that it was a harmless excess perfectly fitting the hegemonic cynical functioning of ideology in our societies. It posed no threat whatsoever to those in power; it merely made their exercise of power more tolerable.
In Western liberal-secular societies, state power protects public freedoms but intervenes in private space – when there is a suspicion of child abuse, for example. But as Talal Asad writes in Is Critique Secular? Blasphemy, Injury and Free Speech (2009), ‘intrusions into domestic space, the breaching of “private” domains, is disallowed in Islamic law, although conformity in “public” behaviour may be much stricter … for the community, what matters is the Muslim subject’s social practice – including verbal publication – not her internal thoughts, whatever they may be.’ The Quran says: ‘Let him who wills have faith, and him who wills reject it.’ But, in Asad’s words, this ‘right to think whatever one wishes does not … include the right to express one’s religious or moral beliefs publicly with the intention of converting people to a false commitment’. This is why, for Muslims, ‘it is impossible to remain silent when confronted with blasphemy … blasphemy is neither “freedom of speech” nor the challenge of a new truth but something that seeks to disrupt a living relationship.’ From the Western liberal standpoint, there is a problem with both terms of this neither/nor: what if freedom of speech should include acts that may disrupt a living relationship? And what if a ‘new truth’ has the same disruptive effect? What if a new ethical awareness makes a living relationship appear unjust?
If, for Muslims, it is not only ‘impossible to remain silent when confronted with blasphemy’ but also impossible to remain inactive – and the pressure to do something may include violent and murderous acts – then the first thing to do is to locate this attitude in its contemporary context. The same holds for the Christian anti-abortion movement, who also find it ‘impossible to remain silent’ in the face of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of foetuses every year, a slaughter they compare to the Holocaust. It is here that true tolerance begins: the tolerance of what we experience as impossible-to-bear (l’impossible-a-supporter’, as Lacan put it), and at this level the liberal left comes close to religious fundamentalism with its own list of things it’s ‘impossible to remain silent when confronted with’: sexism, racism and other forms of intolerance. What would happen if a magazine openly made fun of the Holocaust? There is a contradiction in the left-liberal stance: the libertarian position of universal irony and mockery, making fun of all authorities, spiritual and political (the position embodied in Charlie Hebdo), tends to slip into its opposite, a heightened sensitivity to the other’s pain and humiliation.
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It is because of this contradiction that most left-wing reactions to the Paris killings followed a predictable, deplorable pattern: they correctly suspected that something is deeply wrong in the spectacle of liberal consensus and solidarity with the victims, but took a wrong turn when they were able to condemn the killings only after long and boring qualifications. The fear that, by clearly condemning the killing, we will somehow be guilty of Islamophobia, is politically and ethically wrong. There is nothing Islamophobic in condemning the Paris killings, in the same way that there is nothing anti-Semitic in condemning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
As for the notion that we should contextualise and ‘understand’ the Paris killings, it is also totally misleading. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley allows the monster to speak for himself. Her choice expresses the liberal attitude to freedom of speech at its most radical: everyone’s point of view should be heard. In Frankenstein, the monster is fully subjectivised: the monstrous murderer reveals himself to be a deeply hurt and desperate individual, yearning for company and love. There is, however, a clear limit to this procedure: the more I know about and ‘understand’ Hitler, the more unforgiveable he seems.
What this also means is that, when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we should stick to ruthless and cold standards: we should unconditionally resist the temptation to ‘understand’ Arabic anti-Semitism (where we really encounter it) as a ‘natural’ reaction to the sad plight of the Palestinians, or to ‘understand’ Israeli measures as a ‘natural’ reaction to the memory of the Holocaust. There should be no ‘understanding’ for the fact that in many Arab countries Hitler is still considered a hero, and children at primary school are taught anti-Semitic myths, such as that Jews use the blood of children for sacrificial purposes. To claim that this anti-Semitism articulates, in a displaced mode, resistance against capitalism in no way justifies it (the same goes for Nazi anti-Semitism: it too drew its energy from anti-capitalist resistance). Displacement is not here a secondary operation, but the fundamental gesture of ideological mystification. What this claim does involve is the idea that, in the long term, the only way to fight anti-Semitism is not to preach liberal tolerance, but to articulate the underlying anti-capitalist motive in a direct, non-displaced way.
The present actions of the Israel Defence Forces in the West Bank should not be judged against the background of the Holocaust; the desecration of synagogues in France and elsewhere in Europe should not be judged as an inappropriate but understandable reaction to what Israel is doing in the West Bank. When any public protest against Israel is flatly denounced as an expression of anti-Semitism – that is to say, when the shadow of the Holocaust is permanently evoked in order to neutralise any criticism of Israeli military and political operations – it is not enough to insist on the difference between anti-Semitism and criticism of particular policies of the state of Israel; one should go a step further and say that it is the state of Israel which, in this case, is desecrating the memory of Holocaust victims, instrumentalising them as a way to legitimise political measures in the present. What this means is that one should flatly reject the notion of any logical or political link between the Holocaust and current Israeli-Palestinian tensions. They are two thoroughly different phenomena: one of them is part of the European history of rightist resistance to the dynamics of modernisation; the other is one of the last chapters in the history of colonisation.
The growth of anti-Semitism in Europe is undeniable. When, for example, the aggressive Muslim minority in Malmö harasses Jews so they are afraid to walk the streets in traditional dress, it should be clearly and unambiguously condemned. The struggle against anti-Semitism and the struggle against Islamophobia should be viewed as two aspects of the same struggle.
In a memorable passage in Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (2001), Ruth Klüger describes a conversation with ‘some advanced PhD candidates’ in Germany:
One reports how in Jerusalem he made the acquaintance of an old Hungarian Jew who was a survivor of Auschwitz, and yet this man cursed the Arabs and held them all in contempt. How can someone who comes from Auschwitz talk like that? the German asks. I get into the act and argue, perhaps more hotly than need be. What did he expect? Auschwitz was no instructional institution … You learned nothing there, and least of all humanity and tolerance. Absolutely nothing good came out of the concentration camps, I hear myself saying, with my voice rising, and he expects catharsis, purgation, the sort of thing you go to the theatre for? They were the most useless, pointless establishments imaginable.
We have to abandon the idea that there is something emancipatory in extreme experiences, that they enable us to open our eyes to the ultimate truth of a situation. This, perhaps, is the most depressive lesson of terror.
first published here: http://www.lrb.co.uk/2015/02/05/slavoj-zizek/in-the-grey-zone
February 5, 2015
February 4, 2015
February 2, 2015
January 31, 2015
1. Do you think art can be didactic in a good way?
Perhaps being/becoming didactical could be seen as the artist’s (those that try to make a real difference at any rate) last stand without becoming fascist? I think the left has failed because it has shied away from a fascists’ determined energy.
Animal Farm springs to mind.
However, I am at a point now where I am seeing that the suppression of art globally (through any channels – parents, teachers, governments, religions, mainstream media) has been entirely and supremely successful. In spite a plethora of anti war art/films/novels/poems/plays/dances/documentaries/photographs/articles/exposures etc etc etc WAR still proliferates, the warmongers still have willing fodder, fascism constantly morphs into a new guise. Capitalism continues to be the modus aperandi. How did we end up with these shameful world leaders? We have no leaders of conscience. The one’s that have get taken out.
Thomas Sankara springs to mind.
The left has not learnt to recognise the underlying immutable truths of fascism, or if they do, the message is suppressed. Incredibly dark forces are determined to befuddle logical thinking, rational deductions, and sound values.
This has lead me to the conclusion that no matter what political machinations humans are presented with, we are all at different stages of consciousness and hence perception. Without knowledge, information, mankind is manipulable. The majority of people do not know how to make their own decisions and the ballot box has effectively been reduced to an illusion of ownership. Being able to discern a lie from the truth seems to be impossible to learn in a society that has been conditioned to abdicate their responsibility of thinking for themselves. The primary role of ALL education should be about addressing these issues. We have regressed and education has failed the free world.
It is a vicious cycle……
There is sufficient proof in history that man (collectively) cannot learn from his mistakes, has failed to remember the past in any constructive way. This is either a built-in trait of humanity…..or humanity has become so punch drunk with mind manipulation, relentless financial onslaught that binds them to the grindstone, that they have become willing participants of their own destruction. Nobody in any effective political position seems able to learn that violence breeds violence. Politicians get into power and then seek revenge. Deeply negative traits of human nature constantly triumph….
Perhaps this is all very simple really: the world is overpopulated.
While there is evidence (?) via FB that the world is waking up, how much of that is just a smoke screen to make the left think ‘something is happening’ whereas in fact its business as usual? I don’t think we should ignore this aspect. I am thinking of those memes where we see “Happening in New York right now!” and we see an image of 1000’s of people marching through the streets? If these things were true, why do we not see EFFECTIVE CHANGE? Look at the hypocrisy of “je suis Charlie”.
I think it is beyond the 11th hour.
2. What is this need to document? Of what use is it?
I think that the NEED to document is driven by a creative urge to make sense of, to ‘order’, to understand aspects of ones existence. To extract the light from the dark. I think it is a fallacy in psychological terms to say that light BANISHES the dark.
The mere act of thought (stemming from self knowledge) and writing it down becomes revolutionary.
Documenting is a statement against invisibility.
Documenting is participatory, an affirmation.
As a child, all my creative endeavours were given no credit to the extent that I was ‘frowned upon’. My father was mostly absent and my mother gave absolutely no encouragement. I suppose I can blame them for me becoming ‘multi-talented’ as no matter in what direction (singing, making dolls dresses, creating a ‘nature book’, making up plays, getting high marks at school) my creative endeavours unfolded, they were simply not impressed…..hence I kept exploring. I therefore took my creativity for granted (which I still do) and generally need to galvanize myself into creation. I always face an inner panic. In that sense I am a reluctant artist/performer/creator. Strangely, I feel this has helped me survive apartheid – where my drive to create was not matched with a drive for recognition. In 1998 my solo play The Come-Uppance of Punch came up against a total onslaught at the Grahamstown Festival.
Even with ‘Faces’ and my 15 year career as an ‘alternative’ dj I have very little, if any, personal photographs of that time. All the photographs I have (for example) are those that were given to me.
Of the Body of Despondent Artists (1984-87) the photography (mostly by Peter Hart-Davis and Andrew Yates) was done for press release, rather than for the purpose of documentation. It never struck me that any of this should be ‘documented’.
However, I kept diaries for many years – from around 1980 up to 2000 at which time I acquired a computer. I thus had a lot of material for the writing of my five plays – three with the Body of Despondent Artists: I HAVE NO! (1984), MASTERS OF CEREMONY (1985), DARK CORNERS OF A NEW MIND (1986). And then of course my two solo plays BLOOD (1988 -1990) and THE COME-UPPANCE OF PUNCH (1995-1999). Today I cannot read those diaries – they are filled with utter pain, excessive compulsive repetitions, insanity.
I have only recently acquired some photographs of my parents and I do not have a single photograph of my maternal grandmother who parented us (sister and brother) over a five-year period. I have very little knowledge of my maternal and paternal grandparents. Males did not feature in my family set-up. I have very little sense of ‘ancestry’ via conventional family ties. Given that my fellow black South Africans in particular live THROUGH ancestry I struggle to understand the import of ancestry to one’s existence. I feel that IF I have any ancestry it is the link through other artists. I respect my parents deeply, but they were totally dysfunctional as parents.
I was immensely disturbed by the apartheid mindset to the point of a manic and morbidly obsessive interest and had little idea at the time of the universality of my understanding (and hence depiction) of fascism. Looking back at those times (and particularly since writing Tell Tale – Pine Slopes Publications 2005 ISBN 978-0-9584874-1-2) I have realised I was psychically out of control and painting/writing/djing/fashion prevented me from spinning out completely. My oil painting “Beyond Good and Evil” is a particular example of this depiction/survival: an attempt to gain distance and rationality from the turmoil and the ever conjoined dynamic of the ‘opposites’ merry-go-round.
It was from 1990 that I felt a need to begin documentation of my performances and thus have videos of my solo play BLOOD filmed at the Natal Playhouse, a fashion show at 330 (1992) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogkT67B34Fs&spfreload=10)
and the ‘Come Uppance of Punch’ filmed at the Bat Centre 1999 amongst others.
In 2007, the ONLY person with whom I shared the most intimate moments of my life for eight years (Brain Vincent de Kock) was killed in a horrific motorbike accident. I have spent the last eight years writing a novel of these times set against the decline of our Education system: I returned to teaching in 1997 and it struck me that the classroom was the ‘coal-face of change’ and I felt intensely privileged to be in this space during this time. Bearing in mind that in 1997 there was a strong sense of euphoria in education….and I was dealing with a generation of South Africans that had, for the first time in their lives, access to a quality education. Yet by 2001 things began to get hectic. Changes that swept through grade 8 and 9 Natural Science syllabus were disastrous where content became a dirty word: it was all about process. For eg. it was not WHAT the graph depicted it was the UNDERSTANDING of the graph that was important. Not a single educator at any of the workshops understood this concept. There were no standardised textbooks for any of the years that I taught Natural Science. As a result the CASS assessment tasks were meant to be set so as not to favour any one school. Many schools could not complete the tasks causing the assessments to be meaningless. Initially, the over zealous Education Department in Natural Science created assessments that took about an hour to mark a single script – and with 300 Grade 9’s? Compare that with other subjects like Home Economics (for eg.) that took about 5 minutes to mark! The irony of those same children needing CONTENT for the Matric exam escaped them completely. Changes that swept through grade 10 to 12 Life Science syllabi were mostly phenomenal and headed in the right direction but were too fast, too uncoordinated, badly delivered. Adding to the confusion, between 2006 to 2009 Biology was changed to Life Science and the syllabus was changed three times. And, by introducing Evolution and Environmental studies (two fantastic moves which represented half the year’s work) the Education department blithely ignored the fact that they had just rendered all Life Science educators under qualified. What this says about the Education Departments contempt for educators is alarming – without so much as a murmur from the press or parents. To me, this was the REAL reason why the pass mark was lowered: Educators had to get up to speed while floundering with new content…….and a high failure rate would have made them (the Ed. Dept.) look like idiots.
Stepping into a matric classroom in May 2009 (after 3 ½ years at a deaf school) was a shocker of note. That coalface had become one-dimensional, immature, unknowledgeable. I was facing a form of xenophobia and began to believe that the pupils thought they had stumbled upon the very person who had master-minded apartheid. Malema was in full cry taking private spats with the white right into the public arena. There was constant pandemonium in the school: learners wondering around corridors during lessons free to interrupt at will, strikes, sit-ins by pupils and parents to have the headmaster re-instated. He was suspended pending an investigation regarding him caning a pupil. These strikes and sit-ins were arranged by the ‘illegitimate’ GB. Added to this it was utterly impossible to have a class discussion on evolution, to discuss the dynamic of abortion being seen as a method of birth control, to discuss the effects that alcohol and drugs have on the nervous and muscular system….all standard discussion topics…..to mention but a few! And, if you realise that discussion is a time to exercise knowledge, broaden one’s perspective and plumb some ‘commonaltiy’ of perception, you may get some idea of how dysfunctional that school was.
Attempts to document the court procedure (2010 to the present) of ‘unfair dismissal’ from the Ed. Dept. has become a major 5-year ‘installation’ artwork. I found support structures ineffective, out of touch and dismissive. I have had to constantly wade through mounds of paternalistic presumptive attitudes and formulative responses from presumably intelligent people. No lawyer was able to engage contextually with the matter at hand. I had to laugh when, three weeks before my court date (19th November 2014 – the judge ruled that my case be sent back for arbitration!) I had a two-hour interview with a top Durban advocate (who was white, by the way). I told him that I found that the notion of CONSEQUENCE to be a virtually non-existent concept amongst lawyers when he said, not without some pique: “The legal system is about consequence.” In spite of an extremely positive meeting, three days later he backed off from this case.
The court papers, all of which have been done by myself, serves as a LEGAL account of this insanity. This procedure has pushed me beyond the limits of endurance. I have had to look to Mandela’s statement: “It is you who must take the defence of your rights, your aspirations in your own hands.” – and to take control of my understanding of the constitution. Mandela’s message has become alarmingly cryptic in the light of the bizarre twists and the perturbing failure of leadership in the ANC. I have been driven by the fact that I would not die in peace if I did not follow through with this abuse until justice has been served. While this procedure has been understandably fraught, it has been empowering….and I am supremely happy with this work. The more I researched, the more I delved, the more ‘truths’ came to light. I am currently awaiting a second arbitration hearing and I have already been subjected to collusion in this new setting. The impunity is shattering…..and seemingly endless.
I would like to add that I feel that change has dragged out so because people do not/have not taken personal responsibility for change and have absolved themselves through a collective amnesia and collective bargaining which has smothered the real issues we as a nation need to face.
3. Can art be a means of historical elucidation, an apparatus for constructing truth?
My paintings/plays/writings are a direct application of this statement. ‘Art’ has to be an apparatus for constructing truth: it has no choice. But, as in my opening statement, it has struck me that art has been successfully suppressed by the corporate states globally. We have become blinded by the big bling billboard. The Ray Bans on Cape Towns Waterfront? We are also at an extremely dangerous juncture in terms of global mind control and manipulation. The vilification of Muslims which began almost forty years ago and which has gone unchecked, has lead to the ardent drone annihilation of the Palestinians and the bizarre wars in the Middle East.
And, since the demise of apartheid, I constantly encounter the vilification of the LIBERAL where there is a determination to confuse liberals with closet racists. It is all coming very close to home.
If there is ONE immutable truth that apartheid has taught me it is t his:
“A lie is a lie,
no matter how much you try
and look at it with fresh eyes.”
What does this mean? Apartheid was premised on a lie. The Apartheid Regime bent over backwards trying to prove the lie to be NOT A LIE and all they did was poke more holes into their own façade. It is bizarre, now, 20 years later to even have to say this!
4. Is South Africa a productive field for art today? In what way? How would you describe the art scene here?
There is creativity taking place in SA today……inevitably so….but very little of it is taking place in mainstream circles.
Twenty years into our new dispensation silly people with silly agendas are still muddling to control art. The art market (as in any country I suppose) is determined by curators who need to make money out of artists. This has lead art astray and has undermined the deeper power (in the short term at least) of what art is about.
The art scene hence lacks risk and is thus anything but vibrant. There is a huge lack of viable critics who carry any effective weight in their perception of art i.e. the gap between artists and public is a gaping chasm.
In Durban in particular I am seeing too much predictability when it comes to people getting ‘important’ appointments where they have no sense of the past, let alone the present, let alone a ‘radar’ for what is needed. They might have once HAD a radar: but that radar has become tainted with compromise of the wrong sort. They are simply being paid to maintain the status quo within the realm of appearing new and different.
Instead there is a DEEP sense of everything that is OPPOSED to art: amnesia, selective memories, closed circles, ideological miss-wiring….middlemen muddling the way…..
Political events seem to pointing me in the direction of once more becoming a ‘performance terrorist’….of which the image of the RED BULL 1983-2005 (representing the blindness and fear mongering of apartheid) and the APARTHEID DEMON (1988 – 1998) have become the most iconic.
Art has proven that it is too dangerous to be left in the hands of artists.
5. What is the role of music in film?
Music to film is like walls to architecture.
6. What can art tell us about Marikana? What can art do with Marikana? With “democracy’ after Marikana?
I think your film “Night is coming” – a threnody for the victims of Marikana, expertly answers all aspects of this question and for which I wrote the following review:
What has struck me most deeply these last 20 years is that for democracy to function there is a desperate need for people to be well informed, open minded, able to debate, to be transparent so that you are not driven by a need to hide information, to be honest and not corrupt, to not be threatened by differing view-points. How did the ANC get this so wrong?
I don’t think anybody understood the concept of democracy. The first thing the ANC should have done was set up task teams knowledgeable in the hands-on functionality (i.e. import) of democracy and these should have been sent to schools to educate educators, to pupils, to parents in an onslaught of dissemination, consistently, over a five year period. Instead all we had were (for eg.) seminars on ‘conflict management’…..and a misguided/mishandled policy to get ‘old school’ educators to remove themselves from the system by taking huge severance packages laughing all the way to the bank. Who thinks these things up? Well it’s way too late now to be bothered!
January 28, 2015
Stig Wikander told us some fascinating things on the history of “Aryanism” in Europe. He found the origin of the idea of the superiority of the Aryans in the anti-clericalism of Jules Michelet and Edgar Quinet. It is because they wanted to disparage Christianity (directly or indirectly) that Michelet and Quinet exalted the Vedas and “Aryan wisdom”. Their anti-Semitism and that of their admirers was only a reflection of their anticlericalism. Their Aryanophilia was of a religious nature. The brother of the celebrated Sanskritist Eugène Burnouf, Emile, who was a professor at Nantes, wrote a history of religions in which he demonstrated the important and the antiquity of the Vedas. The book had an enormous influence. Even Mallarmè read it and affirmed that Homer had ruined epic poetry. But what came before Homer? He was asked. The Vedas, answered Mallarmè.
The Aryanising anticlericalism had no connection with the political anti-Semitism that arose later. The origins of this anti-Semitic current are located in Austria-Hungary and in the Germany of the second half of the nineteenth century.
January 27, 2015
The culture of war banishes the capacity for pity. It glorifies self-sacrifice and death. It sees pain, ritual humiliation and violence as part of an initiation into manhood. Brutal hazing, as Kyle noted in his book, was an integral part of becoming a Navy SEAL. New SEALs would be held down and choked by senior members of the platoon until they passed out. The culture of war idealizes only the warrior. It belittles those who do not exhibit the warrior’s “manly” virtues. It places a premium on obedience and loyalty. It punishes those who engage in independent thought and demands total conformity. It elevates cruelty and killing to a virtue. This culture, once it infects wider society, destroys all that makes the heights of human civilization and democracy possible. The capacity for empathy, the cultivation of wisdom and understanding, the tolerance and respect for difference and even love are ruthlessly crushed. The innate barbarity that war and violence breed is justified by a saccharine sentimentality about the nation, the flag and a perverted Christianity that blesses its armed crusaders. This sentimentality, as Baldwin wrote, masks a terrifying numbness. It fosters an unchecked narcissism. Facts and historical truths, when they do not fit into the mythic vision of the nation and the tribe, are discarded. Dissent becomes treason. All opponents are godless and subhuman. “American Sniper” caters to a deep sickness rippling through our society. It holds up the dangerous belief that we can recover our equilibrium and our lost glory by embracing an American fascism.
keep reading here: http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/killing_ragheads_for_jesus_20150125