Posts Tagged ‘antonas’

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


Talbot Event

March 15, 2014

Alain Badiou describes the concept of event once again in Peut-on penser la politique?,[*]  by contrasting it to the concept of fact. The Talbot Event is the term we use to revisit this late Badiou’s concept of event in a political background and not only in the abstract terms he elaborated the concept in Being and Event. Badiou uses the fact in order to present the banality of a recordable, archivable simple action. This banality is negated by the exceptional character of an event. The fact describes the norm and the event the exception. The Talbot factory revolt in France is the example used by Badiou in order to explain this difference between triviality and exception within a concrete political background. The Talbot case becomes thus paradigmatic for illustrating the political constitution of an event. An innocent, idiosyncratic idealization of a non-hegemonic outburst guarantees the exceptional character of the event. The simple objective depiction of an action (that takes place in a particular historical moment) cannot include the dynamic of the event for Badiou. “Eventuality” shows, in this perspective, the possibility of an action to radiate a “truth”. We may lose an event in facts. He writes that for the event to transpire we must set aside all facts. Nevertheless Badiou’s rhetoric for a certain superiority of the event over a demonized fact, on many levels needs the fact in order to be defined, in order to present this symbolic hypertrophy that “immediately” and “spontaneously” constructs an action as event.
Badiou’s drives his Talbot Event to the concept of injustice; injustice structures the event. The fact is characterized by “simple objectivity”. Injustice can have a transformatory role and a constitutive power for an event to occur. Injustice allows the transcendence of a “simple fact” and leaves open the possibility of the time for an event to be inaugurated and deployed. The gap between a simple recording and an “action open to a promising future” regulates the difference between Badiou’s fact and event. The openness to decisions marking this Talbot event’s temporality is founded on an answer to injustice.
The interrelations of an action’s evolution, as Badiou describes it, form a brief genealogy (even if Badiou would not present it as such he announces a series of concepts that form a possible line in his chapter titled “Definitions and Axioms”), which begins with the structure of a situation and leads to an announcement of political faith. In this brief genealogy, we encounter in turn the structure of the situation (which always remains trapped in a “simple” representation), the event (which presents some rupture, some remnant, or some representational difficulty), the intervention (associated with its current, conventional, dominant interpretation, which produces the event as its negation), the politics (consolidating the cohesion of the event in the intervention’s status quo and spreading it), and, finally, faith and political organization (this could constitute faith in action perhaps, which results from each situation). What is interesting in this entire evolution of the concepts of politics or in this genealogy of faith, is the absence of place reserved for interpretation or reading facts. Interpretation, as Badiou describes it, is a process whose occurrence we follow externally. It transpires, or is implemented as an intervention that divides the event; the interpretation splits the event. Badiou’s concept of “intervention” resembles an internal spontaneous reaction; it does not follow the stage of a thoughtful elaboration. It happens as an explosion. The concept “intervention” (which is analyzed as an interpretive move concerning a given frame in the case of the event) simply demands a logical form to explain something that has already taken place. Badiou’s event, while presented as a concept seeking to define open time, unfolds as such only when it has already occurred as a social mishap. An injustice that affects a social space organizes the event according to Badiou’s Talbot Event’s description, because what has already taken place does not allow any more tolerance.
Resistance to injustice creates the opening towards the future. Time is characterized and counted based on resistance to this injustice. The political element is organized ontologically as outrage for what has already taken place. The interpretation is an investment of the reflexive urge to react to something that from the start is presented as unpalatable or unacceptable. The Talbot event happens as a war answer to an injustice. What Badiou calls “interpretation” or “intervention” resembles an accomplished, spontaneous diagnosis that is announced as the end of tolerance. Contrariwise, the fact, as presented in the same text about the Talbot Event, appears divested of any reading dynamic. The “transubstantiation” of an action into an “event” through an apparently obvious injustice, gives an “objective” description to the power of “becoming”.
“Becoming” could be understood as the ruling concept defining an event; it is imposed as a transformative resistance to a given constitutive injustice. A fact is simultaneously considered an accomplished narrative, a simple data addition in the archives of the given, formed by a single reading. The Talbot Event shows the idealised answer to an injustice as a paradigmatic political example. The fact is considered as having a negative aspect. However in facts described as archivable systems of remains we can save the possibility of detecting and observing hidden injustices; an archeology of traces opens different political fields of investigation; they concern an archived past or specific finds. ΑΑ


[*] Peut-on penser la politique? Paris, Seuil, 1985.

murder remains

September 14, 2010

The urban distinctiveness of a certain “murder system” requires two answers in reference to whatever links murder to the city. The question testing the first answer is: How does a necessarily monumental event such as murder register in any city? The second answer would draw Thessaloniki’s urban plan, giving shape to the question: What happens in this special city on the occasions it was and continues being the scene of different murders?

A study of the first question advances by distorting a separation: In Badiou there is a distinct separation between “event” and “fact”. The event is defined as action that surpasses (in a—admittedly more or less—transcendent way) the simple fact. A fact is documented in the archives and forgotten in the unique way one forgets a completed archived action. An event contains a certain heroic, shining, necessarily one-dimensional, revolutionary reading. This reading gives the event a distinctive symbolic dynamic and links the event to the political element. Some overflow, which arrives along with the event, immediately presents it in its political subversive dynamic.

In undertaking to represent Thessaloniki through its murders, we seek the mechanisms nullifying precisely this enormous expansion of fact into event described by Badiou. We might say that Thessaloniki in particular is a city created from the stuff of a specific oblivion, from the stilling of the events that constitute a community. It is an interesting example, which has civic value. Every contemporary city is organized as a social structure while it nullifies the importance of the city’s important events, i.e., while concealing or rendering trite the “important” points that marked the city’s timeline. In general, we would say a contemporary city is constructed as an amnestic mechanism in the way it is built as a mechanism to archive and classify criminal activities that occurred within the city space; formed during repetition its specifications requiring a mesmerizing structure. From the beginning, the dynamics of settlement and land distribution require allocation, classification, continuity, uniformity, archives, all nullifying the status of the event as something unique, which might threaten the very commitment to settling in the same place.

Were we to claim that in Badiou’s differentiation between event and fact, the event is represented as a fact with particular symbolic value, then we should consider the city as a typical organizing system for destroying events, as an event nullification mechanism. The contemporary city is, beyond everything else, an allocation, classification, archive imposition mechanism, with the event as its first desired victim.

The naive, situational appeal for an active city, which would become a city of situations, a city of events without any passiveness, a city of active life and not passive representation, did not simply require—if our observation has any foundation—the contemporary city to be activated in some way; one of the main conditions of its configuration also had to be cancelled. The condition harnessing murder. In Thessaloniki, harnessing murder requires a great deal of energy; approaching the issue is not a simple matter. The city—apart from its “everyday murders”—had a series of emblematic murders in its history. As long as it forgets them, it succeeds in being a contemporary city, and was configured as such because it cannot remember them.

In the scene of these observations, the monument’s importance in the city is interpreted in a different way. The common viewpoint says a monument installs some noteworthy event in the city network. We might claim that the urban monuments we are familiar with, long before installing a particular event in a network (which we have already defined as amnesic) also promote civic amnesia by reducing an event to a fact. A monument, tranquil and installed in a city, is an artless and safe way to turn an event into something commemorated. A city monument is the lenient ability to recall each commemorated event through classification. A memorial commemorates in the way it forgets. It wishes to establish acceptance of a certain type of interpretation rather than the memory of the specific event. Some sort of relaxation is at the foundation of every museum. On the other hand, we cannot imagine any morality without memory. In the city: No morality without some sort of remembrance. In politics: No action without submersion in memory.

In murder, we examine the particular way it connects to the event, and the theatrical direction that installs it on the city stage. Murder is presented as a distinct event since it is simultaneously recordable, narratable, and irreversible.

Death already constitutes a singular irreversible event. The city awaits it with its specific death concealment – documentation mechanisms. The death registries are the city’s enchanted, latent, or hidden histories. Murder, however, is presented with a certain immoral particularity: it is a decisive act, which achieves irreversibility through a certain active blow. Murder is the borderline of human action; in a specific way, murder speaks of interpretation. There is something immoral in interpretation, which the interpreter always plays with. The morality of interpretation is based on an awareness of the permanent possibility of distortion. However, in the case of murder, how far can the interpreter’s work reach?

Interpretation may be understood as a step back; interpretation erases “what we see” and organizes it anew. We interpret something and give it new form. Are we perhaps capable of transforming the interpretation of a murder in the same way? Political crime is frequently presented under different façades. Crime, in general, frequently tends to project an external version different from that linked to the murderous impetus. Perpetrators ask for understanding, submit pleas, or find even that unnecessary; they are innocent because they acted in self-defence. A court acquits, or reduces penalties according to the specific interpretation of each specific homicide: Premeditated or negligent; here, already, are two different interpretations of the same fact. Everything that constitutes murder’s interpretive administration, nevertheless, demonstrates that interpretation is incapable of functioning effectively; it is impossible to alter the irreversible fact of murder. Murder is the singular event, because what occurs in murder is ex hypothesi already inescapable. Interpretation can give new life to a dead representation, but it cannot overturn the act of murder.

Interpretation reconstitutes facts. However, interpretation is responsible for their construction in advance. Nevertheless, we must pay attention to the condition of this reconstitution. We accept that no moment of action produces a unique conceptual centre in any event. On the other hand, the possibility for infinite reversions and infinite interpretations of whatsoever fact might threaten any moral configuration. Everything could start up again as if nothing had occurred. A certain course could always be re-invented and search for continuations even among apparent discontinuity. Murder constitutes a specific example for interpretation. Interpretive omnipotence does not suffice to alter the course of facts. Murder constitutes the most resounding example of this axiom. Something appears lost with murder, and along with murder, something is lost for whatever unimportant reason. The uniqueness, which interpretation confronts from the start as a simple instance of multiplicity, appears in murder as the hard substance of fact. The event, in the case of murder, defines the irreversible, failure, and the asymmetry of any reassessment or remorse.

The city’s multiplicity is born through the civic way of parcelling out land, as well as with the way of dividing, categorizing, and archiving wounds of memory. Before it became a deliberate way of imposing authority, during the planet’s most recent Western era, multiplicity was recognized as the way to facilitate common inhabitation of the city. Civil law, morgue certificates, investigating magistrates, courts, medical examiners, information gathering, archiving; all encourage the desired multiplicity that dispels the insupportable one-dimensional composition of the event of murder, dispels the profoundly unalterable, undisputed “nucleus of the fact”. The “first” indication of the fact, i.e., the dead body of the murder victim, makes its appearance with this unalterable nucleus.

The body of the murder victim is the very best testimony. It is simultaneously “the act itself” and its representation. It is what has happened and the testimony of the event. The murder victim’s body condenses the act and its traces into the same paradoxical remains, which demand oblivion be put to work from the moment they appear; to be buried, to disappear, the same way the causal act disappeared. Burying the dead eliminates a body, burying a murder victim eliminates an act.

Historical question: Can we request a history with no events? That would be the history the city’s configuration is organizing for itself. The answer to the historical question would require new terms for archival readings, new narratives from delving through entries. The city’s history is thus presented as a configuration error.

Urban Planning Question: Can we view the city as a mechanism, which kills the event? Then the topicality of the city would come with some specific, imposable operational a-topia.

Aristide Antonas [ *** ]

the infrastructure community

July 28, 2010

In this short text some thoughts about another urban concept of infrastructure and a possible urbanism of web meeting places.

interview / venice biennale 2008

September 22, 2008
Interview for the catalog of the Greek participation in the 11th Architecture Biennale of Venice, Out There; Architecture beyond building.

the decision and the gap

July 26, 2008

the decision and the gap

Text on the idea of decision and art through the concept of the archive, published in NeMe. First  published in Greek in 2006.

The amphitheater house

October 31, 2007

the amphitheater houseA text in greek reporting some of this house’s thoughts. The house is described by drawings and photos here. It is presented in the Greek Biennale of architecture, Hellenic Institute of Architecture, Athens, Benaki museum, Pireos street, December 15 – January 20, 2007.

amphitheater house’s text [ in greek ]