/m/e/t/a/ on Fri, 23 Jul 1999 19:11:02 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> To be "antisystemic"

Date: Thu, 22 Jul 1999 06:17:05 -0400
From: Brian Holmes <      .   @compuserve.com>
Subject: you no longer have to see
To: /m/e/t/a/ <meta@null.net>

Hello meta -

Your mail is quite good. I suppose that sending it to me means I should
tell you what I perceive, communication is what this medium's for, no? 
Let's imagine that you do things like that massively, that it becomes a
cultural mood, that artists everywhere take to insinuating doubt into the
already shredding fabric of society (I'm supposing you have an interesting
aim, that you don't want to just become another net.personality). Where
will it lead? For around the last twenty years, since punk, different
kinds of youth-based cultural politics have bet on the redoubling of
alienation as a way of at least stirring things up a little. They have
been at once a pleasure and always a flash in the pan. 

What can we see today? One thing is that capitalism itself has widely
indulged in the lucid portrayal of its own dystopia as a legitimating
argument - the kind that says :"there's no way out," and sells that as a
shiver. Artists haven't done much to disprove that. Almost no one over the
last twenty years has been able to associate doubt about the dominant
social functioning with any kind of alternative - a way to make life
better in the face of life getting worse. So why don't you give it a try?
I mean, your text is really sharp, but if you bet on darkly threatening
subversiveness to result in anything more than a momentary bit of fun
you'll be disappointed. Look for some utopian other side to dystopia. To
be "antisystemic" in this moment takes more than just being corrosive.
That worked OK against nation-state ideologies during the Cold War - in
fact it largely beat them, people opted out. But to beat the interlocking
power structure of transnational corporations that has replaced state
capitalism, you need some kind of popular movement - which can't be
founded on the redoubling of ordinary alienation. That strategy either
sells or isolates, and in both cases the people involved get neutralized.
Artists with real cultural ambition have to rethink their practice, not
"accentuate the postive," but seek out the impossible, anyway. 

But maybe you see things differently? 

Brian Holmes

#  distributed via nettime-l: no commercial use without permission of author
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  un/subscribe: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and
# "un/subscribe nettime-l you@address" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org/ contact: <nettime@bbs.thing.net>