n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Sunday, March 19, 2006

no protest

So, there was an anti-war protest in Chicago on Saturday, and I thought about going. But in the end, I didn’t exactly. Juan Cole reports on his blog, Informed Comment, that about 7,000 people went, which is more Americans than have died in Iraq, but less than the overall casualties. I had my reasons for not going, and yes, I’m against war in general, and the war in Iraq in specific…

Saturday morning was beautiful here in Chicago – sunny and a little cold, and I was feeling very antsy for motion. So, I went on a long walk and towards the beginning ran into this group of day-protesters in the island between Kedzie, Logan Square, and Milwaukee. I noted how few of them there were, and how they moved around the little concrete island like bags floating in the air. I stopped and sat on a bench and watched them in action. Nearby, a boy played on a skateboard.

Occasionally, a car would blare its horn as it passed--often SUVs with as few as one occupant speckling the interior.

I thought about how protest sort of feels like landscape: you drive by it and say to the kids in the back: “look, honey, did you see the protesters?” much in the same fashion as one might note a pony frolicking in the field, but with less enthusiasm than one would greet a deer dashing across the road. It’s all part of the backdrop, and a family in an SUV can afford to honk their horn in agreement, and I can afford to give the thumbs-up because we’re “safe” from thinking about what all of our daily actions create, and part of what makes us “safe” are the protesters who make us feel a little more comfortable for either having 1) honked our horn, or 2) participated.

I’ve been to protests and sometimes they feel like a coming together of energies, and sometimes they feel like aggregates of little atoms spinning round and round.

Instead of going to the protest on Saturday evening, I went to a screening of two political films, one of which is in progress, and the other of which is pretty much finished. The Busker Gallery is supporting these screenings for the next few months in a series called “spec.”

The first was a series of newfound film archives from a missionary who worked in Vietnam (during the Vietnam war), Korea, and Cuba among other places. The films were incredible… one still of a dead GI’s foot as it was helicoptered away from the fields… spoke legions. Sometimes the missionary films were propagandistic against the commies, and sometimes they were eerily silent collections of faces and motions: objects all, but somehow more tangible for the editorial work that placed a pilot’s blank expression next to a soldier’s pinched squeeze as he lifted his buddy into the helicopter.

By the way, this film is the one that is in progress, and I was totally amazed at what this 22-year-old video artist had found in his family’s personal archive. rc is b’s roommate, and if you’re interested in such, his project still needs funding… most of the film stock is damaged and needs to be cleaned before he can start making some kind of narrative sense out of it.

The other film was called Get Rid of Yourself, and was a film that looked at protest, namely the protest surrounding 9-11 and a French anarchist protest that involved violence such as police tear-gassing and bystander retaliations. This film was not condoning protest, but rather looking at the cult of rebellion, intellectualization, false intellectualization, and co-option that is involved with protest. I wouldn’t say that it makes a definitive stance against protest, but it certainly wasn’t in favor. I believe that the overall message was: it's your march that allows millions to sit at home and pat themselves on their backs for a variety of reasons.

Most interesting was the inclusion of Chloe Sevigny as she read a series of translations from the French in what was obviously a metadrama query into how Hollywood, or film, or acting in general, can take an original and spin it in a thousand different directions. Sometimes reading in a baby voice, sometimes a low one, laughing over her misreadings, and repeating lines in order to memorize and characterize, these blips make obvious the ways in which ideas get appropriated—whether helpfully or not.

The film ended, after random screenings of the French protest, 9-11 protests, Sevigny, shots at the beach of people sitting under sun umbrellas, and a farcical spoof on older intellectuals pooh-poohing the energy/cult of youth (this character at one point rolls up his pants, wades in a pool, and pulls out a dead carp, suddenly announcing: “this is capitalism.”). The last images were of a forest with chimes and a bunch of livestock walking down a road… it made me uncomfortable; the lulling tranquility of it, the way everyone in the dimly lit room was watching the light shift through the tree branches… and seemed like a message about what we would rather see, what conclusions we would like to draw about our actions. And then, just as I was thinking this and looking down at b, who went with me, in order to not be looking at the screen, the film shifted back to Sevigny reading the French anarchists' lines while resting her head on a pillow.

Definitely made me think.

But if marching is not adequate, what then? Did the violence of the French protesters add something to the moment that walking peacefully down a street does not? Or what are the other options to simply sitting on my arse and letting Rumsfield make a goddam mess out of a situation that we cannot now withdraw from because we already went in and fucked everything up? Certainly watching a political film is not adequate response in itself, but I'm not sure marching is either. Creative options anyone?

Anyhow, both b and I were a little out of sorts after the film, and decided to go downtown to the place where the protest was and see if anything was left over. So we bundled up, hopped on the bus, and rode down to the Magnificent Mile—the capitalist street ad infinitum, where the protest was held a few hours earlier. Once there, we walked down the street and looked around us for any sign whatsoever that a protest had taken place there on that day.

Nothing, not even a leaflet floating around. No signs. No people still gathered around a burnbarrel talking about what could be, what is, what was. Just a few homeless folks shivering under their blankets.
Hey, do you Salsa; want to?
Call B'ham Beth!!!
ohmygosh, salsa always sneaks back at me. i'm soooo bad at it, but if you wanna do salsa some night... well, i'll give you a call.
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