Monday, November 07, 2011


Edited by the eternal and radically disembodied spirit of an Abiezer Coppe called into rematerialized being by the now unbearable severity of suffering and crisis, A Third Fiery Flying Roule contains a love letter from Rosa Luxemburg, a letter from Chicago on the People's Mic by Adam Weg, photographs by Andrew Kenower and an apropos poem from Susan Howe's Souls of the Labadie Tract.          

Earlier today on Democracy Now, George Pagoulatos, Athens University professor of economics and business: "Time is of the utmost importance because the eurozone is operating not on political time anymore but ... on a time that corresponds to the speed with which the markets operate ..." The eurozone is every zone and it seems essential to ask whether the tidal shifts of the political landscape were ever governed by a temporality other than calendar days announced by market bells.   

Weg's short letter on the people's microphone alerts us to a number of issues -- questions of leadership, participation, authority, surrender and trust -- but I find myself most excited by Weg's approach to the question of citationality. Committed to a sense of readership over authorship, Weg insists the people's mic "announces the commons as an erotic potentiality necessarily external to the strict economy of author and reader, producer and consumer, but decidedly ... on the side of the reader." Weg continues, "This commons will never be written, and you can only take pleasure in the pleasure of its readers."

Weg's assertion that the commons will at all times resist any form of hypostatizing inscription reminds me of a recent comment by Danny Hayward regarding our "infinite need for heaven." But Weg's insistence on the readerly quality of the people's mic suggests a sense of citationality that refuses to imagine itself as a form of appropriation — that is, repeating the word's of another, quoting the word's of another, is imagined as participation rather than appropriation. This distinction is crucial, and, within the site specific context of an assembly, this form of citationality is, in the imminence of its moment, a species of readerly participation that rigidly refuses appropriation and resists being misread as appropriation. Participants are not taking from one another; they are devotedly reading one another.

Reimagining temporality is central. If through crisis political time is subordinated to the whims and unpredictable volatility of financial markets, then perhaps the people's mic offers us an opportunity to rethink our relation to one another from moment to moment, through the time required to re-sound one another rather than the unbearable moments meted out by an economically-oriented clock governed by the violent fluctuation of financial instruments. In this instance time is decidedly not money. Framing the people's mic as a technological instrument, Weg writes, "At the assembly I enforce the new technology — ruthlessly even. Is it the Law? A kind of orthodoxy? I don't think I know for sure. But I shout verbatim across the delinquent speaker, listening with their own words for the fine caesura and motivating my own aggression to the cited oblivion of the coming text. How else will we survive the chronicity of such a fine-grained political process?"

The editorial articulation of lines from Susan Howe's Labadie Tract with Weg's letter is stunning. Howe: "You can't | hear us without having to be | us knowing everything we || know — you know you can't ..." The heteronymous Bay Area editor encourages readers to print the above images out, back-to-back on a single 8.5" x 11" sheet, then fold down the middle width-wise and distribute as desired — or circulate otherwise.