Languages

Dear Izidor,

Your last post for the blog L'Internationale has been very well received. In addition, I expressed my opinion that it seems to me as if it needed a sequel and that it is somewhat too abstract and general for »my taste«. In the light of the wider context that I intend to – from a specific position and by no means not disinterestedly – ponder and reconstruct a bit, I cannot help myself not to draw a premature conclusion, or in more »presencious« terms, a working thesis. That is, when a critical response – what your post undoubtedly is, as will be perhaps more evident later on – succeeds in masking its »intentional aspect« in the direction of »depersonalisation«, it functions as relatively tolerable for all those »included/interested«. I would find it interesting to consider why this is so. Particularly because I wanted to touch upon the strategies of critique, even though at the same time, I think that I will (also because I have limited space) more or less only express my interest of what I would actually like to discuss.

First off, let me touch upon the beginning of your contribution, namely that »speaking or writing is not neutral, not just in the sense of meaning, but especially in the sense of the act itself, that we always speak/write from a certain position and that which is told produces two sequences of effects«. Of course I agree with what you said, although I feel that focusing on the two mentioned sequences – for instance, in a hypothetical analysis of a speech/writing act – is a bit too narrow. Let me explain: to analyse a segment of »what is told« and to highlight the performative moment of a speech/writing act foremost represents an analysis of the semantic level, in connection with which a modification of its reduction towards an analysis of a wider, semiotic level has appeared in the context of communication and related studies. The semiotic level highlights the wider context of speech, so that it would actually be possible to indicate what was said and why it was said. Such a focus could have something to do with the other sequence that you mention, but in a different way; not so much with »what was brought about with something that was said«, but »what was intended to be brought about with something that was said (as it was)«. A reconstruction – conditionally speaking – of intentions of a speech/writing act represents a further complication of the listed levels. By all means, it presupposes a reconstruction of the wider production, ideological, intimate etc. context (or by using your terminology: an attempt to reconstruct a multitude of apparatuses with which a certain speech is connected). But also a reconstruction of, shall we say, a pre-context that determines (in advance) the way we (can even) speak/allow ourselves to speak/find it reasonable, appropriate to speak in accordance to what and how we wish our speech to be understood, or rather: what we would like to bring about, spark off with our speech.

This focus on your writing act is, of course, not a coincidence. Nor is it – for instance – my intention to actually analyse it, criticise it or anything of the like. At this point, I am merely »taking advantage« of the (quasi)analysis of your post to try to say something in the direction, in connection to which I have labeled it as »too abstract and general«. In short, to try to (tactically) concretise it at least a bit. That is why in connection to this, still in the manner of the (quasi)analysis, I can wrap the claim I just wrote down in the initial conclusion that your response in the form of an analysis of the ideology (conditioned by the sources of financing) and the intentions of the L'Internationale confederation is not an exclusively »objective« discoursive analysis of the promotional and presentation (what's the difference anyway?) materials available online. It is a response of a »cultural agent« – i.e. a precarious worker in the field of culture – embedded in the same structure. In a bit more clumsy terms: someone who is looking inside and through the practice, someone whose practice of observation is actually deeply merged and conditioned by activity/work.

Your contribution tries to – let me emphasise that – avoid particularisms in a very elegant manner. Don't get me wrong, I do not think that is ultimately a bad thing, since it in any case emphasises the key point: »What is important is not only what we say, what we bring about by speaking, not only the status of the speaker (so that he can do something by speaking), but also where the speech itself is situated, in particular which machine it is a part of.« I would therefore label my humble intention as an attempt to intensify your speech/text without being patronising in any way – I hope. You skillfully delineate the contours of the space in which you situate yourself by writing for L'Internationale. You sense the anticapitalistic ideology that bets on solidarity, the nonhierarchical and the common behind the culturalpolitical discourse (i.e. liberal rhetoric) of EU tenders. You write that »it is the pretension of neutrality that places the carrier of this predicate – the (exclusive) 'cultural agent' instead of the former proletarian – on the antirevolutionary side of the class conflict. You express yourself in a pleasant way through spatial metaphors, that are dear to me: »horizontal of equality based on a vertical of inequality and exploitation«. You mention »internal exploitation«, but you do not stop at the hierarchy between »cultural agents« that participate in a tradeoff (for instance, the relation of the employed and the precariously employed »cultural agents«) – you also point out the fact that the field of cultural/art production is by itself already exclusive and excluding. I hope that I would not draw a premature conclusion if I say that your words are some kind of an »appeal« that in order to realise the high-flying goals, it will be necessary to expand the focus (and the practice) of »difference and antagonism, solidarity and common« into the very interior of individual institutions – as well as beyond, of course.

If I make my point: I completely understand your elimination of particularity, but because I was greatly influenced by studies of feministic theory, in particular by methodology (for instance autoetnography), I have great difficulty avoiding not to think through particularities, above all through situations that I am directly involved in. And since I also understand texts as documents of thinking, I inevitably (and intentionally) write them down.

I remember some time ago, when we were talking about the possibility of writing for L'Internationale for the first time, you said that the texts were supposed to be thematically focused on the context of the 1980s in the Yugoslavian cultural and political space (although I do not know where did you get that information from). I also remember my answer at that time, it went somewhere along these lines: what a paradox that a central institution for modern art in a country, or rather its agents, accepts »the young« into its environment, its circle or under its wing so that they would reflect the situation of their youth (i.e. the era when »the young« were only born) – this is probably where some content milieu of the beginning of our writing together comes from.

Our first two contributions were – judging by recent reactions of some of our employers – placed in the proximity of somewhat infantile criticalistic playing around. As if to make use of a determined and granted public space to express personal frustrations – which undoubtedly holds true to some extent. I would like to emphasise that – as you probably remember – at the very beginning, when we were discussing with Andrej and Tjaša how to do the whole thing, we were thinking about doing a similar research (»where are we actually situated«), that »by the necessity of occasion« you did by yourself only in the third contribution. Because for several reasons – you mention one of them yourself – we did not do what we planned earlier, we placed ourselves to a considerable degree into the (more) wellknown, if not local cultural-artistic context (i.e. we were talking about the local hegemonic narrative of the modern art and the agents that establish it, an exhibition that can be placed into this frame etc.)...

At this point, it could be that I am once again manifesting a somewhat premature conclusion: is a critical response tolerable because it is abstract and general, so that it can, in a way, bounce back from where it is headed without anything seeping through, in short, because nobody can really identify with it while at the same time, we can (nearly) all agree with it? Don't get me wrong, I do not follow the idea that critique should »hold a mirror«, since that – I have to confess – makes me feel uncomfortable, which probably has something to do with the mentioned exclusiveness of »cultural agents«, which they inevitably represent (»Who am I, the one in this supposed position of knowledge, the one to which some public space is granted where he intentionally or unintentionally speaks for someone else etc.?«). I think I will conclude at this point, especially because I have a feeling that we will continue in this direction and that we have had enough of particular conquest of space. Nevertheless, I am only going to add a couple of lines on solidarity, which I simply cannot pass by. In an indirect manner, with Nancy from the book Being Singular Plural, although I know that you do not like him very much: »That which exists, whatever this might be, coexists because it exists. The coimplication of existence [l'exister] is the sharing of the world. A world is not something external to existence; it is not an extrinsic addition to other existences; the world is the coexistence that puts these existences together.«[1] I would however add, maybe in a bit overmelodramaticpicturesque way: can I exclude the excluding solidarity without choosing between the alternatives of building a fortress from my position (I am horizontal, arising from a vertical base) or abandoning myself to my own decay and be carried by the set of reciprocal thunderstorms (for instance, battles for hegemony inside the global art system)? I can hear your answer already: there is no state without battle, there is no complete nonexclusionism ...

I hope we'll see each other soon!

Kaja

[1] Nancy, Jean-Luc. 2000. Beeing Singular Plural. Stanford University Press, str. 29.

Posted 23 Nov 2014
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