Wednesday, 31 August 2011

message from last week on riots.

Hey [...] thanks for that[...]I certainly agree with your sentiment that two lazy narratives have been produced by the left and the right, the former putting the blame solely on the crushing of expectations and the right on simple yobbishness. After a lot of trawling (over the last few weeks I pretty much dropped everything else in order to read all kinds of news and comment on the rioting, like I imagine a lot of people did) I found three articles which seemed to engage a bit more, firstly one by Sophie Himmelblau which finally puts a name to the horrendous unspoken of "gentrification". likewise James Meek in the LRB  and then Owen Hathery at Verso which deal with the fact that what is described as culturally dissolved is actually more a vinaigrette, it's two separate things stuck together in the same space.

I haven't felt confident enough about the history of converging lines which met with the riots, to fully articulate what I think is going on. What I am fairly sure about is: firstly there is no break between the time pre-riots and the events themselves, there is no transition from one thing to another, its just the same as it has been, only turned up. Secondly the riots (as the state of play prior to the riots) were a reflection of a people's dislocation from reality. By this I mean that we have been engaged with things which are entire fictions (as you mentioned in your post, the American gang culture, the middle class thrill of living within a cultural safari park). We have engaged not with the phenomena but the narratives we have grafted to such phenomena. I think this is what people are referring to when they describe a "life style" they would like.

I'm writing a huge article for an anthropology and Hauntology blog at the moment. The most I've been about to talk about the riots within that is this footnote;

"10 I’m dredging up the armatures of the 1980’s because the lumps which they initially dealt with has also bobbed up from the bottom of the river again, albeit in a slightly grown and mutated form. As I am writing this violence is blooming across London and other urban areas throughout the country and this violence has focused most prominently on acquisition of commodities. It is in the light of fires at furniture stores and the faces people with armfuls of electrical equipment and Tesco-Value rice that a cultural of acquisition is most strongly illuminated. Riots and looting seem to push acquisition to a point of extreme abstraction, but really we were already there. The streets are not full of naked people stealing clothes and I assume that most stealing food are not starving, in fact I doubt many walking off with televisions do not already posses one (though perhaps not as good) already. An 11 year old boy who was caught with a £50 rubbish bin has made the news frequently as the youngest (so far) to be prosecuted. We must wonder if he still would have been carrying this object 20 minutes later, or whether it would have found itself amongst the thousand of articles littering the streets, bait for the wonderful legal invention of “theft by finding”? The point in the looting seems to be about the taking, not the having. Taking is a dimensionless space between the hard edges of the future and the past, and it is exactly what our Capitalist society is driven by, the need for the unattainable, the crossed out thing between what you want and what you have. People are stealing luxury articles, and we could be forgiven for citing their high value for this, but remember than in a situation such as this, the depreciation of value is huge, (these items could not be any hotter!) and who would buy anything in the midst of a looting spree? No, the situation is itself more abstract, it’s the surpass value, the cultural value, the unreal value of points that count here. Like the shopping zombies in Romero’s Dawn of The Dead people are performing an action that is really no less or more meaningless than it was before. The site of value in society has been on the unapproachable point of acquisition, to get the new thing, that transition from the object of desire to the deterioration badge of shame (the past), this has been the goal, so when an opportunity to achieve this goal over and over again, with hundreds of others at your side as appeared, quite a lot have been unable to resist. The emptiness of this action (there is nothing in that gap) is perhaps a cause of the event’s frenzy and the capacity for people to transgress accepted rules of behaviour. Acquisition is empty, and therefor it is unreal. It is like a dream where you (repeatedly) reach out for the object and never seem to actually touch it, yet this absence is what we are focused on when we buy and re-buy and upgrade and renew. Everything else retreats into the background, the marker of the future acquisition and the record of the past acquisition have faded. We can see how the currency transference of money (acquired through the sale of labour) to simple labour (lift, thrown, reach, grab, run) could be a relatively minor detail."

I believe it is all part of the same condition, a total disfranchisement from reality that has at one end has the previously-law-abiding person suddenly stealing from a burning BodyShop at the other has MPs threatening to evict people from social housing, as if that would do anything but stoke the fires! It's just the mirage of the narrative, rioters regurgitation the same rhetoric of our jobless recession world that the MP's fabricated to sell them the misery of less services in the first place. The spin has become real, we told the story enough times that it's made itself a body.

Ah well, fuck it all. This is a lot longer than a facebook message should be. I might edited it and put it on my blog, which has gone silent since the riots. What's your plans for back in London then?
all the best

Cast of Revival: Redux



Title: Cast of Revival Redux
Author: Ralph Dorey
Self published, edition of 20 (plus 5 artist's proofs)
15cm x 21cm, 28 pages on 130gsm paper.
Shellac varnish and oil paint on BW laser print, staple bound.

An exhibition folded into it's source material folded into its making folded into a publication folded into its method of printing. Cast of Revival Redux is concerned with trees and flowers and the history of German youth movements prior to the Reich, the élan vital of samurai films, ideology and temporary autonomous spaces. Cast of Revival Redux is a bandage wrapped around a notebook of folk songs.