From: Tom Blancato <tblan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 1996 21:46:44 -0400 (EDT)
On Wed, 9 Oct 1996 dionysus@xxxxxxxx wrote:
> I would like to recommend an incredible book along these lines:
> Gene Sharp "The Politics of Non-Violent Action" - 3 Volumes (Porter
> Sargeant Publisher - Boston)
> Three volumes of detailed scholarly researched practices of non-violent
> action from ancient times to the 60's published by a small publisher for $5
> per volume.
I've looked at the set, and have talked with Sharp in the past. The set
is along the *lines* of the discussion, my previous post, etc., only as a
rather specific study of nonviolence from a specific and within a
restricted philosophical range. Sharp strongly eschews opening up broader
philosophical questions and his treatment is reductive, although it is
never the less good scholarship in many ways, and full of thousands of
examples of nonviolent direct action. For me, the sense of nonviolence,
while utterly married with action and history, is at the same time a
fundamentally irreducible hybrid and infinitly expandable opening and
fundamental philosophical ground.
> I would also take issue with the equivalizing of Bataille and Nietzsche
> with Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino's films are exactly the kind of
> objectifying desensitizing of violence or human experience in general which
> Nietzsche and Bataille devoted their lives to staving off.
Point taken. I was using very broad strokes. On the other hand, what is
happening in Tarentino is not simply desensitization of violence. That's
more like Stallone. There is a movement of recuperating violence in
Tarentino, I think. I don't like it, by the way, and see it as a bad
Try linking them
> with Abel Ferrara in which violence is used to wake people up to the covert
> violence (sanctions, psychiatric drugs, capitalism, non-communication)
> which they participate in daily and to restore the responsibility for an
> ethics, aesthetics, and sacred within our lives.
That's very interesting, though I'll tell you, my take on this is strongly
in the other direction. What can wake us up to nonphysical violence is not
strategically placed physical violence but certain founding conditions of
thought which enable grasping what is *essentially* violent, and which is
strong and perduring enough to see its way through the seductive eclipsing
by the physical. A kind of extreme, or something short of extreme,
sensitivity and grasping, even a loving, if you dare, of so many subtle
things, layers of sensitivity, powerful sensitivies, etc. Strategically
placed or understood violence *can* enable an awakening to this, but only
in so far as it issues from this founding condition, which I would want to
Note my .sig, by the way. Is it exposure to violence that enables cutting
through the bullshit hiding serious violences that are not stellar or
directy and physically swift? In my view, an ideal exposure would occur
in this way: one develops heightening sensitivity to the point that one
gets impaled, so to speak, simply by the world around one. One is "awake"
then in a way that is freer from that awakening which is dependent upon
an impingement of violence. A kind of "brinking" of sensitivity. But this
requires, as you probably understand, a sense of nonviolence that is
quite different from the standard senses, at least in some areas. A
Gandhian nonviolence is up to this, a totalist nonviolence is definitely
But, and here is a crucial point: in thinking of an education project,
there needs to be a very specific kind of working, specifically broad. I
wrote before about the "groundsperson", and what is involved there. The
skill/capacity requireed is to be able to *enter into such problematics as
these*, and start surveying some general directions, not in order to
*solve* the problematics (if it were even possible) but to grasp its
limits, ranges, fields, threads, etc., and see how to lay the ground
right. A certain kind of founding requires this kind of thinking but in
addition a grappling with the *outside* of a given problematic's range,
the staggering anxiety, uneexploited, systematized or resolved, of abyss,
and a kind of chaotic coalescence of general thematics, which for me,
means nonviolent thoughtaction.
> I suggest reading "The Theory of Religion" in trying to grasp the
> importance of violence (and sacrifice). "Paradoxically intimacy is
> violence for it is incompatible with the positing of the separate
> object." To objectify is to perform another kind of violence - an
> unconscious kind in which we will inevitably be unprepared for the
> movement of existence.
I agree about objectifying, though I'm not sure about the other stuff.
Generally, if intimacy is violence as not objectifying, where
objectifying is violence, I don't know that intimacy is in fact violence.
On the other hand, there can be special kinds of violence within
intimacy. The opposite of intimacy is not objectification, however, but
simply distance, indifference, estrangement or non-knowing. Objectifying
as such appears to involve its own range of gestures and enactments. The
"objectivity" of objectifying which one might see as lacking in intimacy,
a certain "allegiance", might be illusory. For myself, love is simply
*greater* and even founded (i'm using that word more than I'd like) on a
level of objectifity, and indeed, may even simply begin precisely there.
I think there are different kinds of love/intimacy.
> Violence is inevitable and if we do not embrace/enact it we will undergo it
> by other means.
In a way, I agree. And so did Gandhi, *strongly*. The embracing, however,
that I see is not that such a project would involve participants making
pipe bombs or beating people up. There are various kinds of embracings
that are possible: projecting possible situations, etc., and whole
manners, ranges, and paradigms for what the requirements are for doing
this from a standpoint of a "disalienated" position of nonviolence. What
this stuff looks like is, first off, simply *not* what most people think
it looks like. I wrote of "naive/totalistic nonviolence", and that is
precisely the nonviolencee that does not embrace the possibility of
violence, etc. But the simple reversal, a turning to violence in the
crude sense, is not in order and I won't cooperate with it. Further, the
return/turn to violence you see as necessary is often used in a way that
is a fundamental thought concern for nonviolent thoughtaction: that the
necessity of violence in various situations can not or must not be used
as an excuse for straight out violence. These logics are *crucial*, and
the exploitation I have in mind here is precisely what happens in
christian nonviolence, for example, enabling a capacity for terrible
violence with a certain extremism born of its own totalist nonviolence
"The sanctions are not spectacular, and operate slowly, but they kill and
maim as remorselessly as bullets and bombs, and are destroying a
generation of Iraqi children." Brad Lyttle, delegation to Iraq member.
"The characteristics of the treatment that caused people to be outraged
and shocked are now kind of masked so that the procedure looks rather
benign," said New York psychiatrist Hugh L. Polk.
As many permutations of molecules used in making psychiatric drugs can be
developed today in 2 hours as used to take a lifetime for a researcher.