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Monday, June 20, 2011

A Rat Became The Unit Of Currency

Zbigniew Herbert      
For the complete poem:

I write as I can in the rhythm of interminable weeks 

monday: empty storehouses a rat became the unit of currency
tuesday: the mayor murdered by unknown assailants
wednesday: negotiations for a cease-fire the enemy has imprisoned our messengers
we don't know where they are held that is the place of torture
thursday: after a stormy meeting a majority of voices rejected
the motion of the spice merchants for unconditional surrender                          

friday: the beginning of the plague saturday: our invincible defender
N.N. committed suicide sunday: no more water we drove back
an attack at the eastern gate called the Gate of the Alliance


Rats multiply and multiply like capital. Rats are a plague, they bring disease like capital. They destroy crops, kill infants, infest the city, homes, buildings, empty lots until they are everywhere. Like capital. They breed and breed.  Everywhere you go the rats are there. Like capital. Cyber-capital is global, circulating in an orbit around the planet. Rising and setting like the sun. Twirling around and around. Twirling. Circulating. Irreversible.

Interview with Nicholas Zurbrugg 1990                            

Baudrillard Live 168-70

NZ: The ferocious theorist!

That's right! Almost the terrorist!

NZ: Do you enjoy being a theoretical terrorist?

Yes. I think it's a valid position - for the moment, I can't envisage any other. It's something of an inheritance from the Situationists, from Bataille, and so on. Even though things have changed and the problems are no longer exactly the same, I feel I've inherited something from that position - the savage tone and the subversive mentality. ...

... For example, in an article that I recently wrote for  Liberation on the Rushdie-Khomeini affair, I defended its subversive potential. When all is said and done, I'd very much like to be the Rushdie of the left, and become unacceptable - by writing unacceptable things.

... Yes. Well, if the Ayatollah was basically defenseless in the global context, he had one symbolic weapon, the principle of evil, which was a very strong force, and which he used with great skill.  Perhaps this concept is a little extreme, a little too moral and too close to negative theology. But all the same, I'm on the side of the principle of evil!

... All the same, I feel we are forced to work in that direction,because it is no longer possible to assume a purely critical position. We need to go beyond negative consciousness and negativity, in order to develop a worst possible-scenario strategy ... given that a negative, dialectical strategy is no longer possible today. So one becomes a terrorist.

... in the sense that there's a sacrificial strategy involving the principle of evil, the politics of the worse scenario possible, or the strategy of intellectual terrorism. Ultimately I don't believe in it. It is not the consequence of any particular faith, but simply an act of defiance, a game. But it seems to me to be the only enthralling game. At the same time, it's often an act of provocation.  Perhaps the only thing one can do is to destabilize and provoke the world around us. 

We shouldn't presume to produce positive outcomes. In my opinion this isn't the intellectual's or the thinker's task. ... I've the impression that if energy still exists, it is reactive, reactionary, repulsive. It needs to be provoked into action. One should not inaugurate positive solutions, because they will immediately be condemned _ so they're virtually a waste of energy. In other words, one needs to make a kind of detour through the strategy of the worse scenario, through the paths of subversion. It's a slightly perverse calculation, perhaps. But in my opinion it's the only effective option _ it's the only way that a philosopher or thinker can, as it were, become a terrorist. Of course today, the real terrorists are not so much us, as the events around us. Situationist modes of radicalism have passed into things and into situations. Indeed, there is no need now for Situationism, Debord, and so on. In a sense all that is out of date. The hyper critical, radical, individual sensibility no longer exists. Events are the most radical things today. Everything which happens today is radical. 

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