Civic Reception of Murder

March 15, 2014

The perspective offered by the Talbot Event and a reading of Badiou’s Peut-on Penser le Politique? related to it, establish a certain call for investigation of criminality in the city; injustice was always included in the field of a city structure and even more the social condition was determined by it also threatened by the unexpected reactions to it. The Talbot Event rationale seems to promote the idea that politics in the city are mostly determined by a violent reaction to a more and more obvious injustice. The normality of the city is not addressed here so much. At the contrary it is the exception to any normality that creates the political stance.The investigation of murder (the exemplary crime) explains urbanity at the one side and political faith at the other as two opposite poles of an investigation related to the urban structure. Political faith seems to be for Badiou the climax of any civic attitude. The underlying assumption to this approach to any modern city concerns a certain harsh scrutiny of murder in the city as if its reception were part of the urban infrastructure. It does not insist on a logic that simply requests the designation of terrible events (more or less haphazardly, premeditatively, or impulsively staged), scorning the significance of recording and insisting on the mechanism of their oblivion. It does not request a simple record of crime. It wants to consider something more; to reveal that forgetting monumental events is a tenet of urbanity.

Cities could be defined as mechanisms that forget. The control of violence and criminality would form an important city infrastructure. Murder is not only to be prevented in an urban level but more than this to be forgotten after it unavoidably happen. Furthermore this oblivion of murder is a crucial urban infrastructure that constructs the idiosyncratic modern urban peace. Urbanization as a homogeneous expansion of city fabric includes normalizing systems of oblivion that are introduced in order to establish the idiosyncratic modern urban silence. That is where the paradox of every situationist approach to the city is located: Every suspicion to the society of spectacle, every approach that insists on the importance of the living moment and scorns representation as a dead everyday convention is deeply anti-civic since the concept of the everyday silence is already one of the major civic functions. One of the major roles of a city is to construct the neutrality of time and the systematic oblivion of crime. The situationistic approach and the rich philosophical past that prepared it requires the contemporary city to become something antithetical to the driving force that configured a city as a system. Representation builds cities and indeed, it is representation that freezes the living moment. The political element and urbanity are directly connected with representation. Cities were created for crime and murder; nowadays, we could define cities as the negation of the “murder event” through different civic protocols. Could we find a court on the mountains or the plains? Families organize pre-political vendettas on mountains and plains, recycling cycles of blood from generation to generation. Courts are the cities’ central gathering spots. They gather the city around the possibility of nullifying murder’s importance. Transferring the unjust crime through contemporary rituals such as the court process to a system considered responsible, already defines a certain architecture of the city. The court supposedly attributes responsibility to an abstract power and determines civic guilt. The crime’s guilt is shared to the whole of the city. It does so by the installation of a privileged narration concerning any action. The court institutionalizes the ability to react to the injustice of crime as an internal competence of societal architecture. Murder in the city is, therefore, not important only as a straightforward murderous staging occurring in a civic environment. The city is not only the scene of a crime that could take place in any other place. The city is organized as place for murder. Murder in the city is murder expected by a certain reception system, elevated to an infrastructure. We usually consider infrastructures as mechanisms that resemble oblivion mechanisms. Households equipped with water, light at night, telecommunications; these are functional programs created to remain forgotten while the city functions. When water, electricity and telecommunications are organized as infrastructures we can live without thinking about them. These blind systems of backgrounding the city function are more and more identified to the city itself. They are infrastructures as long as they are forgotten. Along with the management of clear water, sewage, electricity, and telephone networks, the city constructs an infrastructure—healing mechanism intended for murder. Indeed, the “crime reception infrastructure” is constructed specifically so cities will forget what usually remains unforgotten; to cancel “wounds”, to nullify all that usually is unforgettable, i.e., unjust actions interpreted as inviting violent responses. Additionally, something remarkable about the civic architecture on this level should not escape our notice: civic “healing of crime” occurs through the construction of an intricate representational mechanism without which the modern city cannot be imagined. ΑΑ

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