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NQPaOFU 47, from September 11 onwards

nous reprenons contact avec des possibilités que le destin n'a pas su utiliser

(last NQPaOFU 46 entry, a quote from Gaston Bachelard's 'La poétique de la rêverie':
"we recontact those opportunities which fate didn't know how to use")

Montréal 24-29 October 2001: 24 - 25 - 26 - 27 - 28 - 29

activism as usual?

The silkscreen workshop at the Concordia University Arts building is very alive when I arrive in the evening of the 24th. Design in the making. You know, when inks aren't allowed time to dry and slogans emerge on t-shirts and banners and posters without passing by the font or any editorial police. Outside already in the courtyard I smell solvents and see a group of students spraypainting stencils on posters. Scenes taken from Paris, 1968. Their causes I'm here to find out about over the next couple of days.

list slogans here, in order of appearance

mental floss, active, space
in the design of and placed on Johnson Johnson floss thread containers
(the design research group from the Jan van Eyck Academie presents itself as 'floss' for the occasion of Declarations)
shelf in the Concordia VAV gallery space's floss installation

the windiest corner of the world
overheard in the street
Peel/Blvd. René Levesque-Ouest

Legal Contact Dance
neon sign in first floor window
Club Teasers, Crescent off Sainte Catherine

ensemble pour mieux servir
in a white on blue Script font, on a police car
on Sainte Catherine

every market research proves: people want uncolonized (de-branded) space (it is a huge market)
conclusion of lecture
Room H110, Henry F. Hall Building, Concordia University
Naomi Klein

corporations don't have a communication problem, they have a reality problem
conclusion of lecture
Room H110, Henry F. Hall Building, Concordia University
Naomi Klein


early call

Wake up 25 at 3:10am. I install my iBook, using the Chateau brand adaptateur pour fiche plat a lames. or flat blade adaptor plug, which I had forgotten to bring. $3.44 (CAN) at the drugstore, conveniently called dépanneur here (pronounce something like 'deppena'), seems like a lot of hard Euro for this piece of plastic Fabriqué en Chine, but then again I don't know the exact exchange rate yet, and it's only my first expense, and the iBox is indispensable: my home on the road. Omnia Mea in Media.

I'm expecting snow

Look at that veiled early morning sky: one'd say neige is neigh. Michael told me not to expect any. I know I'm wrong. Must be weather lag. I can forecast any weather at the Moulin, honest.

exchange rate trick that never fails

If you really fancy something, like say, a cool Canadian oar, or a cool shovel, you rate-calculate in your advantage—if you doubt something, calculate in your disadvantage: like a dollar/half a euro in the first case, a dollar/a euro in the latter. It never fails: you bring home the most amazing exotics, value for life. Look at that darn dépanneur plug! What more need I say.

caller id

Wearing my coat to go out, all prepared, waiting for the rain to turn off, the phone rings: 'hi it's Bruce, from Birchlane...' I must admit I'm surprized. Soon I recognize the tone and we talk like we've met before. He regularly drops me a line through the portal's window, this is just like that. We talk work and family and New York and cameras and stuff. Meanwhile the rain clears. I walk down to the museum in a good mood.

the museum restaurant and other little shops

At the MACM I am served Shirin Neshat and at its La Rotonde a magret de canard, with fresh mango and watercress. Interesting marriage. On the way down here I walk past the Spectrum, to see Spiritualized announced for Saturday. I have seen their concert announced in NY at the Riverside Church for tonight and imagined their tour to bring them up to Montréal one of these days: here they are and I'm going. Lucky lucky. 'Let It Come Down', before I go up on Sunday morning.

The Rotonde allows me to stay seated and work some while they serve me a double espresso on the house. At the bookstore I buy 'Du Papyrus à L'Hypertexte' by Christian Vandendorpe: I never can resist such swiping titles and I do need to brush up on my French hypermedia argot. Next door to the museum at the SAT Société des Arts Technologiques tomorrow the conference will party, but tonight they compete the registration ceremony with Éric Sadin's lecture 'Pratiques poétiques complexes et analyse systémique des phénomènes de transformation de nos rapports aux signes', followed by a performance called [7o2_reengineering>. So sorry I can't skip the conference's vernissage. Tonight's performance ends what seems like an interesting SAT program in the context of the France au Québec festival. Here I am in Northern America and NQP is plus français que jamais. It goes without saying.

At Concordia first I get to install my Internet connection which will allow me tomorrow to do uploads. I check my mail. Then friends mix. I talk to Jan van Toorn and Teal Triggs. Mieke Gerritzen drops in from the airport, quite lagged. I hang around a bit then go back to the hotel to crash over the iBook and some teevee. More French. I need sleep.


Early 26 history repeats another 3-5am writing session. I call René Belleflamme, our sysop at the van Eyck, to get some directions for Giselle on how to upload to our new ISP's server. Her topublishornotto.publish hopefully will be online later today, then linked here.

During lunch time I'm connecting to the new van Eyck server. Now to find Giselle for her password... later.

pause santé

Why do some educated designers have such a hard time talking about design? It seems like if there's no commission at hand to guide their mind, they lose all perspective, just don't see any patterns anymore, forget their traditions, and fall back on the portfolio and its linear anecdote. Worse if there's a theory developing to replace the commissioned perspective: what's this theory without a practice? A lame excuse and half forgotten Deleuze/Guattari quotes, to my perception. While even the straightest story of design is always interesting.

'The Domain of Images', James Elkins (by caterina.net recommendation)
Rôtisserie Italienne (around the corner on Sainte Catherine)

'Pause santé' is my next best euphemism, for serious avoidance. But it means, in MyMontréal, dépanneur catered Refreshments.


Last night entered the SAT party early so left again. Shopped for magnesium/calcium and James Elkins. Found some presents. And at 11 found myself around the corner of the hotel, so skipped SAT. Tomorrow is Spiritualized, my party. Tonight can be part of the pause santé. More today tomorrow.


5:25am. I'm awake and think about my daily operations. Having too much time to reflect and react, being scheduled on day 3, I keep changing little things. Adding. Commenting previous speakers. Trying to create some dialogue. I have to stick to my original text! What about a short introduction then. Naomi Klein's original title was the Brand Boomerang. She's one smart girl, good copy. No Logo. Brand Boomerang. I'll steal that boomerang from her for my introduction. There's been hardly any speaker who did not refer to 911. Yesterday an overly excited Patricia Zimmerman had changed her entire presentation to surf the anti-war with us. I'll include some of her links, after scrutiny. 'Web Sites in Response to 911 and War; compiled by Patricia R. Zimmerman, Ithaca College, USA. 'I'm a professor, I do hand-outs'. Naomi Klein was more restrained but admitted the influence of the attacks, on culture jamming the symbols of global capital. Somehow the events made more clear that not only corporate culture does have a reality problem, rather than a communication problem—also 'the movement' has its own reality problem, of becoming a fight for the right to fight: meta-activism.

With her observation that all market research reports today agree that a majority of consumers desires reclaimed space, un-branded space (so there's your market opportunity for getting those logos off the street), and that a lot of people doubt the 'branding' of the 'new war' as is done by CNN, Klein argued for a smaller scale and more situated direct action. With the re-branding of England ('Cool Britannia'... I didn't get the name of the artist who's brainchild this is) and Switzerland and Prada (apparently Koolhaas), I understand she suggests that we're beginning to see a strategic shift, when a Brand Boomerang starts hitting the brand bullies in the neck.

Some media/market workings are stranger than protest, indeed. If saturation sets in, if an irony of self-exposure becomes a media effect and affects larger audiences, things start to move in unexpected directions.

So in the dark of an early Sunday morning I think about the boomerang, how its form came before any aerodynamic reasoning or research. The thing worked, only to be explained centuries later. I like to believe this is the case with the Internet. It needs trial and error, repeated use, only to be reasoned out why it changed the world the way it did later.

At 8am I see the iBook tell me 7am, so I call reception. Indeed last night the clock changed. I have another hour to change my talk. No! Not another hour! I'm hit by the time boomerang. More time keeps returning in my hands.


I'm not getting over biological time competing clock time this trip. Today it is 4:45am when I find myself thinking about the past days, its missions and how the conference somehow didn't get to a level where I hoped it to go. Here comes hang-over. Art, design and activism are an unhappy match in my system. I can see millions of great causes for artists and designers to mean a whole lot, when they professionally engage. Some are more direct than others, some involve a simple application of professional knowledge and skills, others demand a high degree of experimentation and to a certain level artistic 'autonomy', to develop different expressions.

Artists and designers have a difficulty serving different masters/systems of representation. Between an 'art for art's sake' and the simple, but sometimes highly specialized, application of art and design skills at the service of equally precise (not necessarily 'alternative') societal practices, every single artist or designer has to position his or her own practice and win identity.

Every 'application' of art or design (including something apparently evident, like installing a work of art in a show) must challenge the occasion, or is ruled by goals outside its own cause, to become mere illustration or simple imagination-explanation of the representational system it is involved in/supported by. Push every brief, or take none.

22 October 2001

travel as usual

maple leaf   shovel maple leaf oar
Deep [oar/shovel] ambiguity doesn't help your shopping much. So I need your 2 cents on what to bring home from Montréal: hardware, software, contacts, one-off thrills by their recorded data. For just-in-time insights you can ping me 25-28 24/24, or step by at the

Clarion Hotel & Suites
2100 de Maisonneuve West
Montréal, Québec H3H 1K6
Tel: (514) 931-8861
Toll Free: 1 800 361-7191

FYI: I will not travel by the US/NYC this trip. I'm sorry. OTOH this conference might be worth the trip up,
if you are into post-FTF2K, post-AdBuster, proto-personal-publishing design or launch-and-learn activism...

( maple leaf IMG SRC courtesy wood s lot)

20-21 October 2001

what about it

oar shovel
From simple objects to abstract concepts, with every encounter my basic attitude towards them is best summarized as 'what about it?' Whether oar or shovel or self, I will always think and often wonder aloud: 'what about it?' What is it again that I'm looking at? What did I see before, when looking at similar but different objects and projects and effects, what did we say about it and who were we? And why, what did we want it to be. What do I/we/it want (it) to become this time? Yeah, what about it?

There's something naïve about such curiosity, but it makes for great learning. It's not that you don't take, or accept, any decisions, but that they are all to be temporary. 'To be' meaning they should. Be temporary, with a life span between a split second and life. One lifetime: mine. I can review anything for as long as my life. Life is review. Its profound beauty and mystery is precisely that this is nothing new. Try to live with that. Long.

It makes me actually feel uncomfortable to take things for granted. It goes against me. There has to be this permanent un/fitting going on. What about it, what about every 'this'—how to take this, how to place this, how to shape this. Who are we in what we regard this. I always understood 'this' to be to Paul Valéry the original 'poiesis': a making, in permanent review. Review, life making, a heuristic. Not a 'this', but a 'thus'.

Optimist nor pessimist, idealist nor realist per se—none applies, there seems to be no absolute temper to result from or precede perception. It makes one love revisions. Guarding difference. Easily bored when one sees none. Zero information makes no mistakes, horrible. Repetition is interesting: I see it all the time and yet none of it. Not in objects, not in projects, not even in effects. I see only experience, for all and everything involved in exchange. There is a constant reintroduction going on. Like when I attend this high school reunion, I am reintroduced to some people who aren't total strangers to me—and yet. The familiar presents itself in a new stage, after considerable change—but still. Some differences stayed the same, whilst their objects changed dramatically. Not all is decay, not all is growth. But all is change.

The situated object/project/effect is a new event every time one encounters it. With unstable moods to engage in unstable situations, an event needs some guidance however. The limits to possibility I would think are learning and the learned. Learning is inquisitiveness first: learning to learn; the learned being that which one brings into the situation of exchange: the learned, an increasing appetite—the more you learn, the more you learn. Appetite is my best guidance.

Because he travels, Odysseus knows that what is an oar at the seaside is a winnowing shovel in the hills. (...) these two senses do not exhaust the meanings of that fertile object. A winnowing shovel planted by its handle in a heap of grain means that the harvest is done. An oar planted in a mound of earth marks a sailor's grave. In fact, tradition has it that Odysseus' tomb was marked by his own oar planted in the ground. (...) maybe when an oar has come to mark a grave it has also come to the end of its meanings. But things seem less finished as I finish here. How complicated are the markers over graves! They stand for loss and for memory. They are boundary markers between the living and the dead. Sometimes they remind us there is no passage back from that other world, and sometimes they hint that there is a gate if only one can find the gate-man to open it (his name is hidden in the heaps of stones travellers leave on graves). The oar that marks Odysseus' tomb is not there for him to read; it is planted for future travellers so they might call to mind the one who has been stolen away. As a sign of what has disappeared, it will offer up new meanings as long as there are readers to look on it. It is therefor a gateway back to the fullness of the world. The beauty we make will perish, but not the world from which we make it, nor the wit to do the making.
(Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes this World)

19 October 2001

repair issues

Under this pile of blankets at some point in my half-sleep this afternoon at some lucky point the right images, words and sounds came to me to experience the world whole, one more short moment. I'd completely forgotten about this hallucination! What wonderful drugs the aching body sometimes produces for itself to hush you into a better state.

Reading Heidegger's 'De landweg' ('Der Feldweg'/'The Pathway'); Karen Armstrong's 'De Dood van God' ('death of god') essays and lectures.

14 October 2001

meanwhile at the Moulin

R+r take the Mavica around the house. After the cats. After their toys. Roemer climbs the fence. They open all kinds of boxes to display what's in it, in tableaux. Rolf wants a site, I show him his first HTML. Import some of their photo's into an animated gif. They like that.

rolf pictures roemer climbing a fence


Last night I watched a shocking BBC 'Panorama' series documentary on Taliban rule and the history of their position of power, Afghanistan, The Dark Ages, by John Simpson. Horrifying, 'barbaric'. Apparently since they rule, Afghanistan has attracted the most extreme fundamentalists from the Muslim world. It showed of course 'eye-for-an-eye' justice amputations and people hanged, but also infoclasm: cassette tapes unwound, televisions, radio's, hardware suspended from poles outside the towns. Remember the blasting of the Buddhas. It bears Bin Laden's signature of retro-revolution. Schools are closed. Women are hushed in every way. Here no cultural relativism excuses one from cursing these men and those who support them. Afghanistan, The Dark Ages shows that not as much the Taliban are harboring 'terrorist' Laden, but he is very much a man in charge, al Quada supporting Taliban heavily, in financial means and inspiration and global politics.

Bin Laden being the man of the world that he is, dropped his perverted convictions into our time and space. He is the one who can relate local terror to the world, who connects the time frames and reasons back and forth between ideologies.

From the program's online transcription, John Simpson, live over videophone from Afghanistan on the original BBC broadcast date, October 7, when the US/GB retaliation had started:

Afghanistan is scarcely a country any more, it's just a blank space on the map where outside nations, Russia, the United States, Pakistan, India, have been able to interfere and fight each other by proxy with the enthusiastic co-operation of the warring Afghan factions. I'm here now to report on the next turning point, the destruction of the Taliban regime, it's just now starting.

It's the most obvious cliché in the book to say that the innocent are always the victims of war, of course they are, but it's stark fact in Afghanistan and the most basic reason this terrible downward spiral of war and terrorism is that Afghanistan has become a killing field in the interests of other countries. If all the Americans and their allies do now is to smash the Taliban, destroy Bin Laden's terrorist network and then promptly forget about this country all over again then they won't have achieved very much that's serious or worthwhile and the terrible suffering Afghanistan has gone through will just begin all over again.

12 October 2001

if all else fails

Last 11 September terror destroyed many realities, among which several consensus ones, some of which we even weren't aware they existed—let alone we would subscribe to them. From another perspective a series of unprecedented fanatic acts created consensus realities which do only emerge from oblivion in times of great danger. Without having to distance from its immediate horror and capital criminality (which disqualify it from any normal discourse and narrow down its evaluation to a call for revenge), the terrorist act's stunning success can hardly be overestimated. Apart from the scale and precision of devastation and bloodshed, which we cannot imagine to be simply prepared at some al Quada drawing board or even flight simulator, apart from the blind atrocity to spill innocent lives, we face the destruction, at a global scale, of what only little over a month ago was commonly referred to as 'business as usual'.

Make no mistake about it: business as usual, before 11 September 2001, was ideological. As ideological as the response to terror. As ideological, as in how we rid ourselves of fascism or communism in the past, as ideological as it should be, to rid ourselves of the new faceless ideology of terrorism. Terrorism of course comes with terrorists—like fascism came with fascists and communism with communists. Thus faces emerge from ideologies, as its heroes or enemies, embodying faceless crimes of hard line fundamentalism. But handsome and loaded Bin Laden in another reality would easily cast for Mary a Millionaire and here appears with the angry crowds in Peshawar streets with his brother in arms Sesame Street's Bert: we have come a long way since John Heartfield or Guy Debord. The good news would be that ideologies have been corrupted beyond repair, but I'm not sure this is what we should read from those signs.

On the contrary, in a space and time frame where 'everything goes' in the media eye, beyond control, it matters little whether global Bert fights along with global Laden, or against him, both being fantasy figures—in their media renderings, both products of business as usual for different ideologies: a dream team for your nightmare.

Even if all else fails, promise one another never to return to business as usual. A holy vow, made after disaster. Remember.

11 October 2001

for the wayfarer the longest shadows

NQP may be on hesitation, myself I am definitely not. Yesterday my dawn was over the Belgian Ardennen wooded hillscape, an enchanting combination of zero view high risk fog banks and shining golden clearances contrasting the deep green that I sped through. I drove as fast as possible, on an empty stomach, having had no coffee even, leaving JvE at 7am. The entire trip was stunningly picturesque. Already the destination made me feel good, but the extra energy and happiness came from the allround exhaustive beauty I experienced. Beauty of the experience, and the beauty of beauty. On the road I always have my Olympus S925 Pearlcorder close at hand, to save whatever comes to mind. I haven't listened back the tape yet, often times I don't even bother, but it is in praise of colors and more colors, blends, contrast, composition, movement. At such moments I have no other possibility but to prefer image over object, the infinity of framing over the limitless viewpoint and I dream on of painting or decoration, photography and video, graphic and picturesque realities in which I fully trust my receptiveness and preference and my habit, to at least admit the expressions of it in some artistic act, by myself or whoever steps forward.


After 18 or so or more years of absence I begun a correspondence with my first love and wife Inez. Some self has reconnected. The two people who are now exchanging the shy and bold notes of things past and present remind me of two people I've known very well, who split up without ever finishing their story, one self I should hope to know and another one I would hope to get to know better. Life moves frictionless back and forth in slippery time. All traces of history are mere ballistic metabolistic preferences and will can be reset at whim—like you could fly a piece of state of the art equipment from the present out into biblical times and back again, on the basis of Early Medieval convictions and futurological naiveté. Apparently (un-)learning is endless in every sense.


I dug out a fig shoot at Gil's parents and took it abroad. Her brother uprhizomed me some bamboo from his garden and I added a thornless blackberry. In Zevenaar I replanted two giant Yuccas and trimmed the grapevine. Then collected more walnuts from the attic where at least 30 square feet were laid out to dry.


My friend Melle quit the JvE design department. For the time being I run it by myself and will invite two extra staff before the end of year. Though we've only known each other since December last year I do not hesitate to say 'my friend'. It is painful to become aware yet again that peoples' preferences differ beyond repair, while they influence their decisions, leaving a basis for 'functioning' in the real world not to be skills, but indeed the 'compatibility', of a multitude of moods and temperaments, half-ambitions and half-convictions, man's circles and ties, limited progression, frivolous love affairs, opportunistic opportunities. I'm not talking here about people, but about their relationships, if you missed that. That relationship between Melle and myself grew quickly but ended abruptly, not because anything was breaking up between the two of us. We'll meet again, in slippery time.

My pressing current question: what was design? God, it passed so quickly.


Carriage return. The experiential gap between consumption and production may at times seem nearly closed or non relevant, for example in the referential weblog, in daily operations and journalisms, in the recorded life, yet I cannot forget about the noblesse of those expressions which result from prolonged solitary attention and craft, the long haul, attention for the sake of meditation and purification, as opposed to the monitoring everyday, the form follows functioning of our worldly selves, irreparable media lifespan.

for the wayfarer the longest shadows

FTWTLS is the title of one of the six milestones we commissioned Ian Hamilton Finlay, ten years ago to contribute to the Allocations exhibition in Zoetermeer NL. I suppose his stones are still out there somewhere, in that polder overgrown with contemporary housing and 'new nature', unless they have been protected from vandalism and placed outside the everyday, in some kind of splendid isolation. Mr. Finlay never left Little Sparta, his estate in Scotland, where he and his loyals fights all of his battles. His shadows are cast in his body of work.

3 October 2001


I can hear the grass fall. Motor mowing. Been home for two days and yet go off again. This is the first entry to be uploaded from a chock-full iBook, which is going up with me to NL. Never stop. R+r will have to do without Bugdom or Exile for a couple of days, like the Moulin will have to do without me. Hm.

These weeks rock by. There's plenty work at every level, from the professional to the labours of love. Developments at the Jan van Eyck keep me very much awake. I am putting together a design research program for the coming years, based on the six threads its community discerned earlier: publishing positions, hypermedia, visual culture, information design, cultural identity, design recast. Actually I will propose research projects for all of these separate fields. We will offer them to the design community at large and invite participation. This institution (founded 1948) offered 2-year post-graduate courses in graphic design and printed media since 1991, when under its director Jan van Toorn, it evolved from a fine arts only program, to include theory and design. But post graduate days are over in Maastricht and as a post-academic institution, and great (old) media facility, we aim at providing opportunities for research across the three disciplines in contemporary culture. Research projects can span any length of time and be submitted at any moment of the year.

In NL, last week I was invited to discuss the future of the Stork area, a large industrial terrain in the Center of Amsterdam, an island which' real estate developer allows to be partly used by cultural communities to experiment with, over the next 7 years. It is called the Werkspoor island, and last week-end artist Marjolein Boterenbrood presented her initiatives in an event, which included a three days long discussion among a wide variety of cultural entrepreneurs, on the place's affordances. One thing to consider here, is whether events are organized to actually develop something time and space specific (possibly with and informational off-spring), or only to be looked at and visited from the outside. The latter seems very often the case, while at the Werkspoor possibilities are offered to do something relevant primarily on site. When I met Lilet Breddels she invited me to discuss the new format of Archis, next week Monday. They 'had been trying to reach me' for the past days. Trying to reach me? I'd say one simple name search will bring up one of the three domains you can mail me at. The days people couldn't be 'reached' have gone.

form freaks function

Archis is an interesting design case. This Dutch 'magazine for architecture, the city and visual culture' had a recent make-over, after it had almost disappeared from lack of funds in the subsidized market. Public-private capital saved it for the moment. Its new design concept has a tyrannical DIY informational face, with lots of pages marked by the editors/designers to rip out and file, to fax or just finish, like when tracing logos by connecting the dots, to get the ad. The new design divides the readership very much. To me it is another proof that old media mimic the new, eventually to lose performability. Rather it should choose to add insult to injury and radically split its content to divide it media wide. As a clear example of "form freaks function", Archis is not your everyday zine however. And there's a separate English edition. More soon.

(I keep returning here for comfort)

1 October 2001


Retaliation lost momentum. Whenever whatever attack starts, it will be regarded by large parts of the world as a new event, a new crisis, or aggression.

Action in the media environment is not about 'speed', but about momentum, timing and scale. The media operate on any event to give it momentum, to time it and to render it scale. Those who organize this world's events should calculate the media quotient for their performance: they should anticipate what momentum, timing and scale will result from their modest proposals and interventions. The media quotient is a new effect on the world's events.

Consumption has become (the) production (of information).

We lack information since September 11. We get some numbers, allusions to upcoming events, hearsay and speculation, disguised as leader speak. I stopped opening CNN every hour after a couple of days. Official information doesn't deliver since September 11. We get war speak and the results of ever so many tours de metaphors. It doesn't make sense. Afghanistan doesn't make sense. The Middle East doesn't make sense. Washington doesn't make sense. Mass media don't make sense. Global politics doesn't make sense. We're being fooled. We lack information since September 11. We're living the end of consensus reality.

22-23 September 2001

on war

(...) the prospect is that the use of armed violence—which since at least Thomas Hobbes has been recognized as the most important function of the state—will again be shared out among other entities, as it was during the Middle Ages. This is already the subject of science fiction, as well as computer games. Some entities will be territorial but not sovereign—that is, communities larger than states; others, perhaps more numerous, will be neither sovereign nor territorial. Some will operate in the name of political, ideological, religious, or ethnic objectives, others with an eye purely to private gain.

(...) If the last fifty years or so provide any guide, future wars will be overwhelmingly of the type known, however inaccurately, as "low intensity." Both organizationally and in terms of the equipment at their disposal, the armed forces of the world will have to adjust themselves to this situation by changing their doctrine, doing away with much of their heavy equipment and becoming more like the police. In many places that process is already well under way.

(from: Martin van Creveld, 'Through a Glass, Darkly', Naval War College Review, autumn 2000)

Martin van Creveld elsewhere, quoted in a review of 'Transformation of War' (1991):

(...) war will not be waged by armies but by groups whom we today call terrorists, guerrillas, bandits, and robbers, but who will undoubtedly hit on more formal titles to describe themselves. Their organizations are likely to be constructed on charismatic lines rather than institutional ones, and to be motivated less by "professionalism" than by fanatical, ideologically-based, loyalties.

(Creveld linking into Clausewitz; the latter's magnum opus, 'On War', via Michael Handel, 'Who Is Afraid of Carl von Clausewitz? A Guide to the Perplexed')

(also read: Karen Armstrong) (excuse the amazon link) (or Google's).


I climbed a hill to take a look.

(zero intervention data)

(zero intervention data)

20 September 2001


On the way back to F last week-end, I passed by Gil's parents' home. Her father had just a few days before returned from rehabilitation. They had sent off the help that we hired to cook for them and here they are, the house slightly moderated to allow him to move around in a wheel chair (which stood unused in the living room when I arrived), some handles and bars added left and right. Every hour she supports him to practice a little walk around the house. Remember, she is 91, he is 85. They manage. I collected figs and walnuts from the garden, after I descended the hometrainer from the attic, for him to mill the old legs a bit.

figs and walnuts

19 September 2001

I understand Americans who want to be in their own country when such a disaster happens, like the elderly couple who visits Amsterdam and is interviewed on Dutch tv, 12 September. The man says we should 'go after their women and children', the woman disapproves. She hates not to be at home at times like these.

Bellona Times' Ray Davis:

There's some truth in saying that religion was responsible for last week's hijackings.

Certainly more than in saying that they were caused by feminists, the ACLU, or the election, long ago, of some liberals. (If anything, the timing would indicate that God's wrath was tripped by Republicans' gaining control of all three branches of the federal government.)

Probably about as much truth as saying that idealism or courage was responsible.

Or that late twentieth century technology was responsible.

Perhaps less true than saying that nation-sized concentrations of wealth into a few individual hands were responsible.

And probably much less true than saying that vengeance and intolerance were responsible.

My sister-in-law, who's Catholic and worked as a nurse in Libya during the previous Bush's administration, wasn't calling for a holy war when I spoke with her on Sunday; neither, she told me, was her priest. I doubt that many Quakers or Buddhists are emptying their shotguns at gas station attendants.

Religious social structures, like political and economic social structures, can be used to increase the power of the selfish and intolerant. It's the nature of commercial media to pay special attention to the powerful, it's human nature to parrot what's heard (particularly when it provides a pleasure as overwhelming as self-righteousness), and so, if our source of "religion" is the mass media, we're likely to hear the worst possible voices as "religion's" representatives.

That should instil some healthy doubts about the workings of religion. Just as the voices of Orrin Hatch and Strom Thurmond should instil some healthy doubts about the workings of democracy.

(links to Hatch and Thurmond added)

Would it then be true to say commercial media are responsible, or rather: a catalyst? I hesitate to think 'responsible'. That's is a huge claim, in the 'violence on television perverts our youth' range of accusations. From Ray's reasoning it follows that commercial media are instrumental, they rub in opinion, allow one to parrot: 'they' (at a time when there is no more they in them—contrary to times when we said 'the newspaper is a gentleman', as a Dutch saying goes) more than any other vehicle (more than religion or politics or even economy) spin our world. Mass media pre-face any disaster, big and small. They scale them. Up or down. They render the grotesque acceptable (courtesy Rebecca Blood), help settle our mixed up feelings. But as an outsider to the culture in which they operate (for me as a European, American media are still first and foremost American media), I learn a lot more from the friends and colleagues and other Americans who I don't know at all and will never get to know, (other than by) just reading their stories and following their links, to know what happens. I learn that American media show me one America (even if it is portrayed as a melting pot), while there's many more Americas than any corporation could cater to.

other sources

Bruce points me to Artists of Resistance, which links back to the Common Dreams News Center.

18 September 2001

Just in, 'proper responses' as usual (via TidBits):

**Apple Expo Paris 2001 Cancelled, Seybold Continues** -- In a brief announcement today, Apple cancelled Apple Expo 2001, scheduled for 26-Sep-01 through 30-Sep-01 in Paris, France. "We're canceling Apple Expo in the wake of last week's devastating and tragic events," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We're sorry to disappoint our users and developers, but their safety is our primary concern." In contrast, Seybold Seminars announced that it was continuing ahead with plans to hold Seybold San Francisco on 24-Sep-01 through 28-Sep-01. Explaining the decision, Seybold Seminars president Gene Gable said, "We believe that the proper response from the Seybold community is to once again demonstrate the vitality of our industry and the contribution it makes to the global economy." [ACE]


The only liberating 'proper response' to major disaster would be something improper, some kind of outrage: a freak action for a freak action. But the only real way to deal with atrocity is to try to make it your own story, a story which connects you to everybody else's story, without a 'national' or 'international' detour, without passing it through the media. We remake and remake it until we know what happened, without necessarily understanding it. Honestly we don't have to—maybe better not. But we need to know, and to remember, which is by far the hardest part.

Rather than 'flag' or 'freedom' or 'war' we say 'holy shit', or 'sorry', or 'help'.

17 September 2001

What a terrible week to be 'out of one's weblog' (and community: I had very little chance to follow its journalisms and was restricted to mass media), has come to pass. Though there can be no pretence as to offer whatever kind of comfort to the immensities which are unstoppable since September 11, and will continue for a period yet to see no end of, because no end can be determined to it, by ideologies which returned to their prime vital impulse and product: 'war'—still and again and very urgently it is the personal voices out there in the street and out there online, which do make sense of events and render them shape, and a scale which has been long lost from those belief systems that cause yet another crisis to a world we are born into to cherish and share, not to destroy or colonize.

I left last issue's Bachelard quote above. It seems appropriate. It seems to be a demarcation. It seems to be something to hold on to. It seems to bridge a 'past', memories, and a 'future', projects.

I return to dating the coming entries, because one particular date has been singled out to inform our future. It could have happened any sunny day, or rainy day, or whatever day, of course. It has been prophesied many times, not for any particular date, nor for any particular civilization to be hit, not for any particular civilization to cause, though indeed, those who must have committed the act will belong to our usual suspects, who chose their usual targets with usual precision. This has nothing to do with fate, but turns into it, it has nothing to do with politics, but turns into it, it has nothing to do with religion and its books, but pours out of it, as if it were fate indeed. We need repair more than ever.

Last night, Rolf said he hoped today there would be no more item on this disaster on the Jeugdjournaal: the Dutch television's news service for children.

Then: a mosque in Zwolle and Islamic primary school in Nijmegen (both provincial Dutch towns), have been tried to set on fire yesterday. Whereas the mosque only suffered little damage the school lost a class room and play/gymnastics area. There was 'no evident link to the attack on America', according to the police. I hope it will be in the Jeugdjournaal tonight.

6 degrees of terrorism

'Make no mistake about it': here, as usual, I try to make sense of my times and the choices and stand my friends and myself take, in life and work. We do not represent any organization or system, we have no power but the power of opinion and reflection, we are only 'voice', we are only many publications, many takes, many discrepancies, many doubts and hesitations, many desires.

All of the victims (' families) are connected to all of the perpetrators (' families) within six handshakes, or other forms of communication. Every innocent citizen of 'the' West is connected to every innocent citizen of 'the' East or South, within a maximum of six exchanges. Every leader of 'the' West is connected to every leader of 'the' East or South, within a maximum of six exchanges. What can these exchanges mean? And why can no intelligences cross them?

Let's not be naïve. Our leaders' exchanges consist of walking out on conferences that are organized to change the world, by diplomacy or law making, or international collaboration. Our leaders' exchanges consist of gathering around the world's economies to ritualize their interactions for more profit. Our leaders' exchanges consist of posing for media attention. Our leaders' exchanges operate through bureaucracies which demand a multitude of six steps, to contact other bureaucracies, or even get their own shit together..

The innocent citizen's connections go by handshakes and remain largely within the community. They go by familiar subjects: health, work, safety, the upbringing of generations, wellbeing in its many familiar forms. Innocent citizens' connections go by daily life, the everyday, which looks familiar all over the world, yet differs distinctly in detail: in color, in attention to the spiritual, the economic, the educational, the ongoing dialogue between the public and the private, the common and the personal. Daily life's many forms of exchange and dealing with the familiar, the immediate, are the only rituals that will forever remain exotic between different people. They are the source of wonder.

How many more times do we have to see people creeping out from under the rubble and dust of some freak disaster? How many more times will we witness that the few that do walk out from under those collapsed targets, are the ones miraculously lucky, while so many more are buried? How many more times will we have to search the enemy where there is no more enemy out there, just colliding systems, blindly raging interests which make some men fearless and relentless, without understanding what drives them.

Don't even think of determining the 'perpetrator' in the global political arena.

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