GUATTARI ON ACTIVISM

'A certain type of group initiation has its own special imprint: real militant activity in a reified social context creates a radical break with the sense of passivity that comes with participation in the usual institutions. It may be that I shall later on come to see that I was myself contributing a certain activism, an illusion of effectiveness, a headlong rush forward. Yet I believe noone who had the experience of being a militant in one of those youth organizations or mass movements, in the Communist Party or some splinter group, will ever again be just the same as everyone else. Whether there was real effectiveness hardly matters; certain kinds of action and concentration represent a break with the habitual social processes, and in particular with modes of communication and expression of feeling inherited from the family.'

Félix Guattari, 'The Group and the Person' in Molecular Revolution: Psychiatry and Politics (New York City: Peregrines, 1984) p. 29.

HACK YOUR OWN BRAIN

image

image

'I NEED A COMPUTER!' - it's the future and Keanu Reeves is proto-Neo Johnny Smith. He's had his memory wiped. It's the future so it all begins in Beijing. It's the future so people wear angular hats but it's also the past so they send a lot of faxes.

image

Even if you haven’t seen Johnny Mnemonic you have.

It’s the future and Keanu Reeves is a data courier smuggling information that can’t be sent on The Net. He just wants to take on one last job (like Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception). It’s the future and there’s too much data in Keanu’s tiny brain. He got an upgrade but it wasn’t enough. 160 GBs! It makes his nosebleed (like Scarlett Johanssen in Lucy). All he wants is his childhood back. He takes the data to the free city of Newark, NJ. The rookies who hired him get shot and he doesn’t have the download code.

image

It’s the future and everyone wants the data. A hot bodyguard in chainmail called Jane rescues him but she’s melting down too. Her nose doesn’t bleed but her arms convulse. 

image

In Newark it’s the future and there are anti-corporate anarchists with dreadlocks and bonfires in metal trash cans. Ice T is the leader of the anarchists. We know he’s an anarchist because he has an anarchy symbol on his head. 

image

It’s the future and the pharmaceutical companies are evil.

It’s the future and everyone’s bodies are overloaded. They’ve got the black shakes.   

'What causes it?'

'The world causes it… Technological civilization. This shit causes it.'

image

Whatever’s in Keanu’s tiny brain is worth a lot of money. Turns out he’s carrying the cure to the shakes but the evil pharmaceutical companies make more profit from treatments than cures. All Keanu wants is his childhood. 

image

It’s the future and Johnny doesn’t really have a personality which might be because he has no memory or might be because he’s Keanu Reeves. Either way, he feels some compulsion to deliver the cure so it can help Jane and also cure the whole world (like Matt Damon in Elysium). But this is very stressful. He just wants room service and his childhood and shouts for a while on top of some kind of slag heap.

image

Sometimes Johnny has memory flashes - balloons or a tiny tricycle. It is very poignant (like Sean Young in Blade Runner only in reverse). He kisses Jane. 

image

Ice T takes them to Heaven to meet Jones who ‘cuts through hard encryption like a knife cuts through butter.’ It’s the future and Jones is a dolphin. 

Takeshi Kitano turns up. His daughter is dead. It’s a bit confusing. There is also some kind of cyber Messiah crucifixion and a woman burning up inside a computer.

image

Johnny goes into cyberspace and lots of balloons come flooding back into his memory. He is happy when he remembers his mother. ‘Happy birthday Johnny’. It’s like Citizen Kane’s rosebud. Only Keanu doesn’t die.

The evil Pharmakon building is on fire. 

'It's pay back time' says Ice T. The flames glow on the horizon. Johnny and Jane look pretty cool against the blue screen.

image

A WIND FROM THE EAST

Quotes from Richard Wolin, A Wind From the East: French Intellectuals, the Cultural Revolution and the Legacy of the 1960s - on French Maoism, Sinophilia and intellectuals’/activists’ weird imagined version of Chinese Communism 

image

The first message we received from China: revolution within the revolution. The second message we received (though fewer of us this time): revolution of civilzation. The third message we received: Seven hundred million Chinese people is not a kibbutz; it’s not a phalanstery; it’s not a splinter group. It’s a quarter of the world, an empire in the center of the world, in the center of the world that it was about to implode. We could hear the implosion

- Roland Castro, Maoist militant

the Maoists embody a genuinely radical form of contestation. In a country that  has become sclerotic, lethargic, and resigned, they stir things up and arouse public opinion. They try to focus “fresh forces” in the proletariat—youth, women, foreigners, workers in the small provincial factories who are much less under the influence and control of the unions than those in the great industrial centers. They encourage action of a new kind—wildcat strikes and sequestrations—and sometimes they foment it from within…. I shall never regret whatever I may have done to help them. I should rather try to help the young in their struggle than to be the passive witness of a despair that has led some of them to the most hideous suicide

- Simone de Beauvoir

a time of serene enthusiasm, a time when I believed we were making a clean break from the archival culture that houses the best of contemporary knowledge and were developing an alchemy of the passions and a radiography of significations. What some people believed… to be gratuitous esotericism was merely a terminological … loyalty to the critical states we found in an individual, a society, or a text.

- Julia Kristeva

Mao’s calligraphy, reproduced at every turn (a factory hall, a park, a bridge), marks Chinese space with a lyrical and elegant jetéok: admirable art, omnipresent, more convincing to us than the hagiography that comes from afar… A people (that in twenty-five years has already constructed an admirable nation) travels, labors, drinks its tea or practices gymnastics alone: without theater, without noise, without posing—in sum, without hysteria. 

- Roland Barthes

image

SOVIET BABIES

The dream of having children is merely a beggarly stimulus when it is not imbued with the dream of a new nature of things in which these children might one day live, or for which they can struggle… (Herein lies the inextinguishable claim of the Fourierist utopia, a claim which Marx had recognized [and which Russia had begun to act on].) 

Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project [J63a,1], p. 342

Children  - enthusiasts, activists, gripped by collective feeling, carry into musty family life new principles of revolutionary ideology… a future is being formed in its embryonic elements through the children’s efforts.

Aron Zalkind, ‘The Pioneer Youth Movement as a form of Cultural Work among the Proletariat’, 1924