Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Collective Singularity: A Musing On Paralysis

Source: Retrieved March 18th, 2009 from

Collective Singularity: A Musing On Paralysis


What hampers communication is communicability itself; humans are separated by what unites them.
-Giorgio Agamben

If you are reading this on a screen, you are staring at our point of contact, our collective singularity. Here, we become one. You are an anarchist. I am an anarchist. Or at least I am telling you I am one. Here, ANARCHIST is simply a word. Here, all past meaning is erased, all understanding is imaginary. Anyone can be an anarchist here, just as anyone with a computer can be here.

Is this communication? Was this ever a form of communication? I vaguely remember thinking of it solely as a mode of communication. Now, in 2009, I am seeing something entirely different. Everyone is interfaced through a totalitarian voyeur culture. All can be observed by the eye which is a distraction just as much as it is camera. We observe the lives of others. We see other places. We mesh in this singularity and become one identity, one group, one movement, one cause, one fight, one war, one electronic world. All of our musings and ideas are observed through a screen. Seen on Myspace. Assessed byNorthCom. The countless anarcho-interneters and the unimaginative servants of the Department of Homeland Security all have one thing in common when they become part of the collective singularity: they are staring into a mirror.


Jorge Luis Borges once wrote of mirror people who attempted to take over the land of the real. The mirror people lost the war against the real and were banished to the mirrors they had come from. But one day, perhaps, the mirror people would launch a new war. And this time, after having studied their enemy for so long, they would win.

What you are reading now is composed of nothing. Borges, before going blind, wrote his nothings on paper. His nothings were treasured not only because of their brilliancy but because books such as his were scarce and treasured. Only small groups found their collective singularity in the books of Borges and Kafka and Joyce. They could carry these books in their pockets. When the collective singularity was entered into, it was face to face, body to body. Conversation and musing took the form of real interactions. Information was spread slowly but steadily. Mass production had not ensured them instant success or mass audiences yet.

Who is Borges? Who is Kafka? Who is Joyce? Perhaps we know who they are, or perhaps their names simply trigger more associations than we can count? Their names are right along side those of Justice, Facebook, Julien Coupat, Tiger Woods, Ipod, Watchmen, Afghanistan, Call, Nike, Sprite, Nokia, MP3, Rachel Ray, Obama, Economic Crisis, 2012.

One of the theories is that a singularity will eat the world in 2012. What proponents of this theory do not understand is that the singularity is already starting to form. You are staring at it right now. You are watching a bright star collapsing under its own weight. You are living in and seeing the burst of energy flooding away from the collapsed star.

You are the singularity. And so am I. We are the black hole. The computer in front of you is the star.

And the collapse is irreversible.


Hey, for you to note--Ugly girls and boys--I put you on my list--And make you clap to this


There is a pop duo known as Justice. They are two French men. But they are really no different than you or I. They are part of the same culture that can be seen in Seattle just as it can be in New York City. When they perform, their crowds jump and cheer under a glowing white cross. These revelers could easily be confused with ecstatic fundamentalist Christians. The cross is worshiped, the duo is praised for doing something common and banal. The two men always appear to be smiling.


The duo released a single entitled D.A.N.C.E.. The song is a simple fusing of old, simple pop songs. Countless people have heard this song alongside countless other pop songs. The duo also recorded a track called Stress. Knowing the song would never be played on the radio, a music video was made which was so disturbing it would not be aired on television.

In the video , a group of youths in the Parisian suburbs is shown walking out of a lifeless environment into the heart of Paris. They all wear the same black jackets. On the back of their jackets is a glowing golden cross. They are united in their urge to destroy the smooth-functioning world outside their prisons. The youths proceed to assault women, break kid's guitars, smash tourist's cameras, knock off car mirrors, smash up a white bar and knock out the owner, fight the police, escape, steal a car and then molotov it. All the time the youths are being filmed by a white camera crew, making the video appear to be real.

While driving away in their stolen car, the youths turn on the radio. D.A.N.C.E. is playing over the speakers. One of the youths smashes the radio in disgust and throws it out the window. After molotoving their stolen car, having nothing left to destroy, the youths turn on the camera men. The video ends with the camera on the ground, filming the flames of the burning vehicle.

(None of this has anything to do with anarchism, by the way).

The collective singularity of a gang is itself. It cares little for anything outside of itself. The gang in the video destroys the very thing rendering them into images. Their rage will not allow itself to be diluted by the common singularity the wealthy and privileged and thoughtful (YOU AND I) are mired in.

They will steal your Ipods and cameras and laptops. They will laugh at your hip clothing. When they come for you, they won't give a shit about anarchism. The more you try to be like them, the more pitiful you will look when they find you. Just as the video attempts to illustrate, what is coming will destroy what it wishes to and as it likes. What is coming casts no light. It is the black space after the collapse of the star. It no longer acts as a reflection. The mirror people have escaped their framed confines. The more you try to ask them to reflect your image, the more fervently they will break your cameras, smash your computers and burn your cars. The mirror people have no race, no nationality, no politics. They are not you. And you are not them. You have nothing in common with them aside from their reflection on your screen. No light escapes from a black hole. It replies to no questions.



The whole series of nocturnal strikes, anonymous attacks, wordless destruction, had the merit of busting wide open the split between politics and the political. No one can honestly deny the obvious weight of this assault which made no demands, and had no message other than a threat which had nothing to do with politics.

-The Coming Insurrection

During the fires of France in 2005, the urban guerrillas who fought the police planned out their attacks. They were familiar with the battlefield and understood the terrain in a manner that the police did not. The fighting could not have been sustained without pre-existing networks that were as personal as they were virtual. The internet and the mobile were utilized, but without the living networks of neighborhoods and friendship and a shared environment, those electronic tools would have been useless. All military forces need to communicate in order to be effective. Communication during the insurrection of 2005 (when it was not breaking down or being disrupted) was the purpose of using a phone or posting locations on the internet.

The same use of networks was recently seen in Greece. Utilizing the real-time communication these networks provided, over a billion dollars of damage was realized in Athens. The insurrection spread like a virus. Sarkozy was correct in fearing contagion. He had already witnessed what happened in France. Just like the other European leaders, he was afraid of what he saw approaching. He and the others know that what is coming demands nothing aside from their heads.


Unlike the Red Brigades of Italy or the Red Army Faction of Germany in the 1970's, there is no future proletarian state that is being fought for. There is no political counterpart to be dealt with, bought off or neutralized. The coming destructive force is a byproduct of the system, an inevitable error in their programming efforts. No party can lead it. When it rears its head, it does not replicate the State structure. Instead, it decentralizes in order to be most effective. Neighborhoods and gangs and crews form and strengthen out of necessity. To do otherwise leads back into the same prison of daily life which you and I are currently inhabiting. Relationships are not mediated by the collective singularity of the internet, they are face to face because there is no other way for them to be. The singularity becomes common and small and centered around Exarchia or the apartment block or the neighborhood. Like the seized Polytechnic, it is a center of gravity for those who are a part of it.

This virus of multiple singularities has been spreading across the planet. Guadeloupe was a tear in the fraying map of the French Empire. The entire northern coast of Europe erupting, with fishermen fighting the police, was just part of the prelude. The small population of Iceland took its first steps, realizing that they could walk, that they could topple governments. All that was missing were steps taken towards self-governance. In Greece, we are seeing that the process of creation is far slower than its destructive counterpart. But it is happening. Soon enough, we will see someone actually succeed in making a government irrelevant. We will see something new, something that will not be a replication of the State. It will not come about without fire. It will not come about without love. It will require everything at our disposal, especially our patience.

The fires of Athens were the bursting forth of the dignified future. Its herald was the darkness and the flames.



We need to see each other, look at each other, talk to each other, listen to each other. We are others, the other. If this world doesn’t have a place for us, then another world must be made. With no other tool than our rage, no other material than our dignity. We still must find each other, know each other.

-Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos

There was a boy named Narcissus. He stared at his reflection so long that he fell in love with himself and became a beautiful flower. If are you reading this, you are staring into the water, Narcissus. This singularity we are sharing here, now, is no different than the singularity of McDonald's. Unity from a multitude. One from many. What do you and I have in common? We are both staring a screen in a moment without time. What does Ashland, Oregon have in common with Richmond, Virginia? They both have McDonald's.

At this point, actual anarchists who are 30 and older have been scattered all across the US. Others keep traveling, keep moving and keep teaching. The ones who learned from reality and not from books and the internet cannot transmit their knowledge as fast as the internet. And so now, in 2009, more and more anarchists have nothing in common besides an image, a representation and a scene. People without a community fight for a community that is created as a reflection of what once was real, potent and glowing: the legends of the past.


Most of us lack the base of support needed to achieve our goals. Armed insurgency would be crushed by the government, all known agitators would be imprisoned, the machine would win. This is what we see. There is nothing left to do but wait to die or begin to live. Some people seem to want to rush into their death, to throw their lives away rather than live in this death-culture. Others, however, have seen that the only thing which will ever win is true autonomy, true independence, true singularity. Our country provides us with something we do not want. Rather than stew in their filth, others have decided to provide themselves with what they do want.

Meanwhile, anarchists walk in circles, sticking with the familiar rather than creating something their immediate communities want. Many anarchists can never figure out what to do because, more often than not, they are not part of any community other than the national anarchist subculture. In the absence of any resistance, any healthy community, many anarchists have flocked to the virtual resistance of the internet and the spectacular representation of the international anarchist movement.

Our collective singularity must end. We are becoming lost in it. This collective singularity is massive and vast, but it is weak and spineless. It can allow us to communicate, but it can also reduce us to spectators. Many have not tasted the power of small singularity. Local singularity is potent and unstoppable. There is no need for representation when there is a town or a neighborhood in front of everyone's eyes, a shared place where the news is delivered by a loved ones mouth.

The collective singularity of the internet, of mass production and the mono-culture allow one to take things for granted. Someone else is burning something down, someone else is starting a community center, someone else will give their money over to the project. From this moment on, dear Narcissus, take nothing for granted. You must do everything yourself. You must do everything with those closest to you, especially the ones you do not know.

The world is outside. The world is not here, on this screen. This is basic. As are all of the conclusions being reached by so many all over the planet. There is no God and there is no Devil. There is no War and there is no Peace. There is no Violence and there is no Pacifism. There is no Magic and there is no Science. The only differences left are real ones. They are visible, they are clear and they cannot be ignored. They are evident. What we all see outside is different. Our difference from once another is our strength. Despite living in vastly different environments, our desires lead us all to the same conclusion: in order for us to survive, we must be in charge of our own lives.

Greece shows us that it is possible and that it is a slow process. There are fires, but there is new life. One could not exist without the other. These fires and this new life is what Marcos keeps talking about when he speaks of rage and dignity. The Zapatista's recently presented the Greek insurrectionists with a mural. Chiapas is not Athens. But yet there is unity between the two. Unity that is not imposed by a machine, but a unity that is born and lives forever in ones own heart.

In Exarchia, Athens, Alexandros Grigoropoulos was executed. In Oakland, California, Oscar Grant was executed. In Oakland, people who were just like Oscar Grant disobeyed the preachers telling them to hide away their rage. They lit fires and trashed McDonald's. They were together, united by their dignity and their rage. Underneath the surface, people are understanding their power.


The mirror is cracking, and the reflections are going to destroy that which made them into the Other.

Soon, very soon, the fable of Borges will come true.

The mirror people will have their revenge.

Good luck, everybody.



No comments:

Post a Comment