Hannah Arendt, the German-American political theorist and subject of a recent film, noted the importance of language for disclosing reality in which certain thoughts and actions were made possible. Words do not just convey information about our intentions, but reveal and create the reality in which we act and think. Language enables us to think and engage in the world with others in creative and new ways. A limited language, however, limits these possibilities of thinking, especially from the perspective of others.
Say nothing at all and there is nothing to translate.
You cannot extrapolate Australia’s approach to the rest of the world because, if that was the case, you would spend an enormous amount of resources on moving people from one country to the next and keeping them in limbo
The high-minded values of genuine commons-based production should not be confused with the user exploitation inherent in the practices of a company like Airbnb, which is not concerned with the fact that hosts who are rent-subsidized can be evicted on the grounds that they obviously did not need all that extra space. And do we really want to wave our lighters through the dark evening skies for the newly gained ability not to buy a table anymore but just get the parts and assemble it ourselves?
At the other end, as you exit, toward West Street, another uniformed man is obliged to spend his day telling kids not to stand on the benches in the memorial park. “You, there! Down.” It doesn’t occur to the kids that standing on the granite plinths could be an offense, and they wonder at first whom the guard could be addressing. They look bewildered—you mean us?—and then descend. The idea that we celebrate the renewal of our freedom by deploying uniformed guards to prevent children from playing in an outdoor park is not just bizarre in itself but participates in a culture of fear that the rest of the city, having tested, long ago discarded.
Morrison has said that he will “not allow people smugglers to try and exploit and manipulate Australia’s support of these conventions as a tool to undermine Australia’s strong border protection regime that is stopping the boats and the deaths at sea”. The flawed justification for saving lives at sea is that it’s acceptable to return people – who have come into our care and to whom we owe obligations – to certain torture or harassment. It hardly seems a fair swap.
The ignorant schoolmaster is ignorant, above all, of inequality – which is to say that he or she sees it everywhere, because it is everywhere, but not in the very people he or she is supposed to ‘stultify’ as Rancière puts it, to keep in their place, to make docile for the service of the economy and the preservation of social order. The ignorant schoolmaster does know a couple of things, however, namely that what is crucial in any emancipatory project is a notion of capacity, and a notion of will. Capacity because everyone is capable – and has already learned how to speak in whichever way one can. And will, because will is needed to break through both the misconception of the teacher that his or her student is incapable of knowing as much as they do, and to convince the unconfident student that he or she is precisely capable of knowing as such.
There’s nothing wrong in itself with the demand that art give up its modernist ‘autonomy’ and become medium of social critique, but what goes unmentioned is that the critical stance is blunted, banalized, and finally made impossible by this requirement. When art relinquishes its autonomous ability to artificially produce its own differences, it also loses the ability to subject society, as it is, to a radical critique. All that remains for art is to illustrate a critique that society has already levelled at or manufactured for itself. To demand that art be practised in the name of existing social differences is actually to demand the affirmation of the existing structure of society in the guise of social critique.
Schlingensief also describes his modus operandi as: ‘inviting a multitude of systems to gather in a dance and that dance becomes the picture’.
This undecidability with regards to its position is also what Slavoj Zizek pinpoints as the strength of the strategy of over-identification. As he writes about Laibach and their in-breeding of Stalinist and Nazi symbols: ‘By means of the elusive character of their desire, the indecidability as to “where they actually stand”, Laibach compels us to take up our position and decide upon our desire.’