Pandemic vision

It is one thing to think, speak, post about the coronavirus crisis as an occasion and a subject of media, visual, social and discursive production. This type of analytical-critical approach is well rehearsed. Based on the more or less well-functioning interplay of mental-cognitive reflexes, this methodology ensures that A is considered to be the expression, representation, metonymy, allegory, image, etc. of B, and thus observed accordingly. But it would be something quite different, if everything had to be looked at in a radically different way, if the phenomenologies of the crisis had to be revisited in order to check if they themselves have not been caught up in the crisis.

As sociologist and activist Sandro Mezzadra writes in a widely read and shared blog entry (in Italian on Euronomade, in English translation on the Verso homepage), this global pandemic and the measures taken by the Italian government against it are in fact “merely exacerbating tendencies that have already existed for a while”. Seen from this perspective the pandemic itself would have become an organ or a medium of perception. Ultimately, it would have brought to clear and brutal visibility what until recently had been covered up, ignored, overlooked (and had to be, since the ideological operating systems on which the capitalist world system ran until recently could not have been maintained).

So, what if the crisis is not the “image” of something else, but is itself enabling vision? What if the irreversible situation in which the “world community” is now being united, forced to reimagine itself, has entailed a sudden leap in visibility regarding the global accumulation of crises – not primarily as a result of tireless research, political organizing, artistic productions etc., but rather as correction of the collective sensorium on a gigantic scale? TH

March 20th, 2020, 02 / Rosa Mercedes
Interface

Avery F. Gordon, in an interview conducted by Katherine Hite and Daniela Jara in Memory Studies:  “Non-participation is one modality of what I call being in-difference. Being in-difference is a political consciousness and a sensuous knowledge, a standpoint and a mindset for living on better terms than we’re offered, for living as if you had the necessity and the freedom to do so, for living in the acknowledgement that, despite the overwhelming power of all the systems of domination which are trying to kill us, they never quite become us. They are, as Cedric J Robinson used to say, only one condition of our existence or being. Running away, living apart, squatting, communing, feral trading, bartering, self-managed currencies, human, debt, labour, knowledge strikes, boycott, divestment, non-policing, throwing your shoe at an occupying president: the ways of non-participation in the given order of things are many, varied and hard to summarize. And they are taken up for a variety of reasons, including the failure or irrelevance of states and the US–European post–World War II social movement model.”

July 7th, 2020, Tom

Denise Ferreira da Silva via Canadian Art: “Visuality or rather visualizability—being available via social media and accessible through electronic gadgets—seems to have become the main (if not the sole) criterion for reality, which becomes crucial for the ethical-political demands for the protection of black lives, for state accountability and for justice. If that is so, the only way is through these conditions of representation. I mean, the creative move first takes the visualizable as it is, that is, as a twice removed re/composition (at the same time a live streaming, news reporting and documenting) of the scene of violence which only tells us that it happens. It exposes the excess that is the state’s use of total violence, of law enforcement as technique of racial subjugation, while simultaneously removing the black person (the father, the sister, the friend) out of the scene of violence and its visualization. It does so by restoring the dimensions of their existence that the camera cannot capture. That is, the creative move must protect (as an ethical gesture) the black person (keeping her obscurity) in the excess that is the very visualization of the scene of total violence.”

June 28th, 2020, Tom

Ajay Singh Chaudhary on the politics of climate change, via The Baffler: “One of the most common misconceptions concerning climate change is that it produces, or even requires, a united humanity. In that tale, the crisis in the abstract is a ‘common enemy,’ and a perfectly universal subject is finally possible in coming to ‘experience’ ourselves ‘as a geological agent,’ through which a universal ‘we’ is constituted in a ‘shared sense of catastrophe.’ The story I am telling you is different. In this story, there is no universal ‘we.’ Climate change is not the apocalypse, and it does not fall on all equally, or even, in at least a few senses, on everyone at all.”

June 23rd, 2020, Tom
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