The Rhythm of Life Against Monumentality

June 17, 2013


On the sourdsite we have the Moskiosk Djinpalast with its twin adjacencies, the bathouse and the bazaar, allahallahallah, and on the sponthesite it is the alcovan and the rosegarden, boony noughty, all puraputhry


The plan to construct a shopping mall in the guise of a replica Ottoman barracks on one of the few remaining public spaces in Istanbul has elicited an inspiring fluorescence of imaginative resistance which has exposed the extent to which economic development and the abundance of commodities which it promises is actually a process of social and natural impoverishment, reliant on the brute force of the state – ‘the knock out in the park’ – for its unfolding. It is a continuing manifestation of what the Danish artist, Asger Jorn, identified as the conflict between monumentality and the rhythm of life, a conflict described in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as ‘lawandorder on lovinardor’. The recent ban on the sale of alcohol within 100 yards of a mosque has been rendered all the more effective by the construction of 17,000 mosques in the ten years that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been in office. With ‘the thunder of his arafatas’, the flatulent Erdogan resembles none other than the patriarch ‘Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand’ in Joyce’s novel, that man of ‘hod, cement and edifices’ who has a great fall as a result of ‘this municipal sin business’…


“His howd feeled heavy, his hoddit did shake. (There was a wall of course in erection) Dimb! He stottered from the latter. Damb! he was dud. Dumb! Mastabatoom, mastabadtomm, when a mon merries his lute is all long. For whole the world to see”

Interesting analysis of the ‘plurabilities’ of the spirit of Gezi here

Edit 16/02/14: The social movement in Turkey, about which I was so enthusiastic (mustering a Joycean sense of the ridiculous) I would have to now consider in the light of these observations:

The apparatus always recognised that there could be no authority figure who was not also an indisputable buffoon – fear and laughter leak from the same repressive mechanism. But all this has progressively become redundant since the revolution in the manner of power’s representation of 1968; whatever purpose the dictatorial form once served, it has been both achieved and surpassed. Putin and Bashar al-Assad belong to the last generation of personalised leaders.

It is not a coincidence, I think, that the ritualised overthrow of dictators (they appear only so that they might be usurped) also coincides with a sudden upsurge in the spending power of an internationalised technocratic class. Whatever its ostensible ideology, no matter the exuberant waving of its red and black flags, the bourgeois crowd is always templated onto emergent patterns of objectively given ‘acquisitive individualism’ and autonomised wealth accumulation. The Beloved Leader’s castrating demands become absolutely intolerable at that point where the masses’ demands are plugged into easily available credit. Where the dictator once devoured, fastidiously dabbing at his moustaches, the crowd now demands the right to consume on its ‘own’ terms, that is, in accordance with the forces which animate it.




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