Liza, I'm curious what you, Mark, and perhaps other major net-artists think
about the coming war on Iraq. Do you think that it is too dangerous to talk
about? The net occupies this strange hybrid space between weapon-system and
paintbrush--are painters and artists in other media freer to speak on the
From an artistic standpoint, it seems that we will all be forced to accept a
new and very weird version of "Truth" should the attack go down. Much like
the first Gulf War, the second one might very well--as Baudrillard said of
the first--not "really" happen at all, as well as having "happened already."
If indeed all human expression and activity is mere simulation, then 9/11
"didn't happen" either, which to me is a troubling reductio ad absurdum.
Had 9/11 "already happened" before 9/11?
Certainly, those who protest against any action that eventually happens
anyway will lose power or reputation. Self-interest generally dictates
abstaining from controversial opinions whenever possible. One of my
concerns is that if everybody abstains because of self-preservative motives,
then the decisions are made with virtually no input or heightened levels of
expression. This does not make the decisions worse necessarily, however it
does make them different. They become desperate and secretive, like the
permission granted Hitler by a demoralized, terrified, dying German society,
on the brink of spiritual death--i.e., a cognitive descent into subhumanity
via loss of patrimony, history, and genius-in-action.
I was quite intrigued, though not surprised, that 01101010010101.org
their sig file "subvert yourself" or something like that. My inference was
that criticism of larger power structures such as the current US
administration is now out of place and irrelevant. I have been slow to
catch up with this curve, because of my provinicial location, yet find it
quite compelling in many ways.
Does this principle of subversion of self-only apply to all power
structures, and not just to US government policy? It seems fair to assume
so. The wreckage and disaster of the 20th century left the world horribly
maimed, hence unable to embody hardly any of the ideals that were supposedly
fought for 1900-2000. Perhaps humans are justifiably fearful whether even
one wholesome seed will sprout in the soil of the 21st century. Obviously
complete global meltdown is frighteningly possible.
I'm tending to see the human historical moment in 2002 much in the way that
Trinity had to jump from the helicopter in "The Matrix." The US must attack
Iraq in order to preserve global stability, but a successful outcome is far
Also maybe like Evel Knievel jumping the Snake River Canyon, with all his
personal items, hairdo, star-spangled jumpsuit, and psychic cohesion
right there in the rocket-car with him mid-span. Nothing on the departed
cliff and no way to go back anyway; maybe nothing on the other side either,
and certainly nothing down in the canyon.
Is that why the topic of invading Iraq is taboo? Perhaps the matter comes
down to an inner, unpublic kind of faith. The "case" cannot be "made," for
we are working with total unknowability--a simulated historical atmosphere
in which "true" and "false" do not and CANNOT pertain. What is left to the
artist (Beuys said everyone is an artist after all is said and done) is
merely to stand by and watch, wait as we share the ride in the rocket-car,
twiddle our fingers, hug our loved ones, and in short, pray.
This is basically what the Bible predicted. However, whereas the Bible
speaks of each soul traveling independently to either heaven or hell after
Judgment Day, I tend to view the matter as one soul--the human--traveling in
great multiplicity but sharing the same rocket-car (say a
six-billion-seater). The multiplicity of souls headed for different
destinations has transformed into one soul with a multiplicity of "other
sides of the canyon," possible futures, etc. This principle may of course
be incorrect, but it is echoed in a Curtis Mayfield song "Don't Worry": "If
there's hell below, we're all gonna go."
My personal view reserves a very prominent role for artists in the
navigation of the rocket-car (or at least manipulation of what navigational
variables exist, if only shifting weight in the cabin) and relegates prayer
to a secondary or partial obligation.
To reiterate, do you Liza believe that art per se does not and should not
play any role in the decision whether to invade Iraq? Because art will most
certainly be altered irrevocably if the US does invade.
Anyone notice how Hirst apologized for saying 9/11 had substantive artistic
qualities? Things are so schizoid nowadays. Schroeder barely won, in part
because one of his ministers compared Bush to Hitler.
Maybe fascism did in fact "win" the 20th century, and now it is all we have
that works, making "democracy" and "freedom" otherworldly deities in the
purest sense, near-beings we pray to but do not expect to experience
directly in the workings of "this life"?
I'm oddly comfortable with that, yet thanatos is a sin; we must permanently
approach nearer but never reach. Artists now cannot incarnate anything, but
only lead prayers to the taste of their patrons.
How I do like such apples.
>From: Liza Sabater-Napier <firstname.lastname@example.org
>Reply-To: Liza Sabater-Napier <email@example.com
>To: Rhizome_Raw <firstname.lastname@example.org
>Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: What's your ominosity quotient?
>Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 09:35:22 -0400
>+ une dans la gueule, and two for tea !
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