Migrant Actionism and Body Configurations for Channel-Crossing

Fig. 1  (top)  photograph from the Associated Press as published online in the Telegraph at 6:45 am on July 18 2015, captioned "A migrant in Calais sits under the trailer of a lorry as he attempts to cross the English Channel"; (bottom) photograph titled Mahoniflöte1982, from Viennese Feminist Actionist Valie Export's Körperkonfigurationen (Body Configurations) series; a photograph (Verfugung, 1976) from the same series sold for 17,000 GBP (approximately $27,000) at auction at a Christies sale in London's South Kensington on April 17, 2013.  

"In these pictures, the body is not always charged with a political message, but suggests its inability to submit to and thus adapt to the architecture, by extension its inability to submit and thus adapt to the social and political architecture that shapes society." 
- Encyclopedia description of Valie Export's Body Configurations.

Sources: Danny Boyle, "Calais Crisis Live. Calais Migrants: Theresa May calls for 'urgent' security upgrade as 1,500 try to storm Channel Tunnel." The Telegraph. July 29, 2015; Thomas Cyril, "Valie Export," Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Photography. Vol. 1.  Ed. Lynne Warren. Oxon: Routledge, 2006, p. 469; "Valie Export (b. 1940) Verfugung1976." Post War and Contemporary Art, Christies, Sale 8647, Lot 336. London: South Kensington, April 17 2013.

On the Promise of Big Ships, Aircraft and a Pumped-Up Budget When All that Was Needed was a Hand: On the Humanist Pathos-Formula of the Savior

 Fig. 1   Digital image circulated online in an April 23 2015 internet article from Business Insider.  This photograph of the Italian Financial Police rescue unit "sav[ing] migrants at sea" by motioning that they halt, was captioned "an Italian Financial Police rescue unit approaches an inflatable dinghy crowded with migrants off the Libyan coast." Image source: Alessandro de Meo / ANSA via AP.

Fig. 2    Headline from the Associated Press article circulated online in Business Insider on April 23, 2015.

 Fig. 3  Compare the gestures in the ANSA via AP photograph above (2015) with the gestures in Michelangelo Buonarroti's The Creation of Adam (c. 1511 - 1512) from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  As is the case in the scene captured by the Italian photo-journalist, a single hand extends from a mass of bodies on the right in Michelangelo's fresco.  In the fresco, this extended hand is typically said to be the hand of god; in the photograph, it is not possible to see who specifically the hand belongs to and thus, it also appears to be the hand of a powerful entity, a critical mass or abstraction, in this case, the anonymous migrant. Meanwhile, the hand extending from the left in the fresco is palm-down and limp, whereas the hands extending from the left in the photograph are palm-down and stiff.  The figure in the left section of the fresco composition, as captured in reproduction, is said to be the biblical personage Adam, the first man;  the biblical first man as portrayed in the fresco is nude and represented with a pale complexion. The figures to the left of the photograph are covered from head to toe in mostly white protective gear that is comprised of full-body suits, gloves and visors.  The gloves are blue. As in the fresco, the bodies to the right are represented with darker complexions, clothed and draped in colorful garments.

 Fig. 4  The costumes worn by the figures to the left of the photograph -- protective plastics comprised of full-body suits, gloves and visors -- cause a third association: the hospital scene in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) directed by Steven Spielberg.  In this scene, the characters Elliot and E.T., who had developed a connection and had both become ill, have been captured and quarantined for observation by United States government agents; Elliot reaches out to E.T. whose dark complexion has paled because he is near death.  Elliot's extended hand has all five fingers outstretched, like the hand extending from behind the figures on the right of the Italian photo-journalist's ANSA via AP photograph circulated online in April 2015.  Unlike the hand in the photograph, Elliot's hand is facing palm-down and the figure towards which his hand is extended is completely unresponsive.  It could be said that Elliot's gesture is a combination of the gestures in the ANSA via AP photograph and the Michelangelo fresco: it could be said Elliot's gesture of the infra-human child in alien empathy is a gesture that memorializes the space between the so-called post-contemporary and the so-called late early-modern.

Fig. 5  On the promise of a rejiggered child's speech synthesizer, an antiquated sound device and an empty coffee canE.T's "E.T. phone home" post-surrealist "communciator," or as beautiful as the deliberately staged meeting of a Speak & Spell toy, a portable record player, a circular saw blade, an umbrella, tin foil, electrical wire and a coffee can on the carpeted floor of a suburban home in 1980s California.


Sources: Raf Casert and Lorne Cook, "EU Leaders are promising big ships, aircraft and a pumped-up budget to save migrants at sea." Business Insider. April 23, 2015; Stills from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982); E.T.'s Communicator from film E.T. taken at Universal Studios, Hollywood by Wikipedia user Mattingly23.
On the Pearl Interpolation (PERP) in a Monument to Bad Memory
download the chapbook in A4 or LTR

+ for other chapters from the videographic internet novel Cabinda is not Angola (and other Tales of Separatism and Secession), click here.

Toast for Breakfast 
(or an Egg Salad Sandwich on Toast, but Hold the Egg Salad)

Fig. 1  "That's Real" from the trailer to Sidney Furie's The Ipcress File (1965)

On Being and Becoming (A Man)

Fig. 1 (left) U.S. President Barack Obama visiting the Hyde Park Academy initiative "Becoming a 
Man" or BAM in Chicago, 2013; (right) Striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, 1968

Fig. 2  Jacques Lacan's revision of the Aristotelian Logical Square

Fig. 3  Passage on the ontology of the Event, from Slavoj Zizek's Less Than Nothing (2012) 

Fig. 4  Passage on being a Man, from Frantz Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks (1952)

It's Better than Bad. It's Good.

 Narrator: Hey, kid! You want a toy?  Kid: Ahuh! Ahuh!
Narrator: How 'bout a bike?  Kid: NO!
Narrator: A video game!  Kid: NOOO!
Narrator: Well, okay! You pick a toy!
Kid: Hmmm. I want...LOG! Boy, oh boy!
Narrator: Yes, log! All kids love log.

Log rolls down stairs, falls over in pairs, runs over your neighbor's dog.
Log's great for a snack, it fits on your back, it's log, log, log.
It's loooog, loooog: it's big, it's heavy, it's wood.
It's looog, looog: it's better, than bad, it's GOOD!

Everyone wants a log. You're gonna love it, LOG.  Come on and get your log! 

(Source: Jon Kricfalusi's Ren & Stimpy Show, Broadcast in the United States on Nickelodeon, 1991 to 1995)

"You got me in a weak moment: I'm a push-over for a squishy ass":  
Valerie Solanas in Andy Warhol's "I, A Man" (1967) 
and Essy Persson in "I, A Woman" (1965)

Fig. 1 (top) A scene featuring Solanas from Warhol's "I, a Man" (1967); 
(bottom) The trailer from the Swedish film "I, a Woman" (1965).
The Voice of Stalin in Pigment and Celluloid

Fig. 1  (top) Salomon B. Nikritin, Portrait of Stalin in Military Uniform, 1930, Oil on Canvas
 (bottom) November 1, 1941 Moscow Speech
[Recipes] The Quenelle: Between a Chocolate Mousse Dumpling 
and a Trademarked Gesture 
(or, Is "Hybrid" the New White?)

Fig. 1  Quenelles de Chocolat, or Chocolate Quenelles

Fig. 2  (left) French footballer Nicolas Anelka making the "quenelle" during a televised match; 
(right) French comedian and politician Dieudonné M'bala Mbala who devised and trademarked the "quenelle" gesture.

Fig. 3  (left) Dieudonné M'bala Mbala and French basketball player Tony Parker making the "quenelle"; 
(right) symbolic capital circulating in corporate social media through French footballer Nicolas Anelka's Twitter account.

(Between Chocolate Mousse Dumpling...)

115 grams of raw cacao
2 eggs, separated
60 grams of butter, soft
1 tablespoon of agavé

Beat egg yolks into raw cacao.  Whisk in butter in small amounts until smooth and glossy.  Whisk whites to soft medium peaks and mount with agavé. Fold into cacao and eggs making sure no whites or lumps are visible.  Place in a shallow dish cover and cool in the refrigerator. Form quenelles in even heaps using a large sppon.

(And Trademarked Gesture...)

Point one arm diagonally downwards while touching that arm's shoulder with the opposite hand. 

A.K.A. Post-Race White-Face

Fig. 1 (top) Tanya Lacey, "Two Many Cooks in the Kitchen" Official Video;
(bottom) Kreayshawn featuring 2 Chainz, "Breakfast (Syrup)" Official Video
"Me and Brandy Got Enter-Per-Nerial Plans": 
The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe 

(bottom): Lily Tomlin in Jane Wagner's "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe";
(top): V Nasty & Lil Debbie as Actors-of-Themselves in Post-Race Minstrelsy, "Gotta Ball."

[Icono-Plastic Reading] Lesson One: 
The Difference Between Metonymy and Synechdoche

Fig. 1  "Boots on the Ground" 

Fig. 2  "Fresh Legs Off the Bench"

"Fresh legs off the bench" is an example of a synechdoche.  In this sentence, the plural noun "legs" is a representative part of a whole (e.g. the body of a basketball player) used to represent a whole (e.g. in this specific case, the body of a back-up or "bench" player).  The lower limbs of the body of a relief player on a basketball team, are here used to refer to the contribution of supporting players to the work of a team's starting five.

"Bench" is a metonym for the five players who sit at the sidelines, waiting to relieve players from the starting line up.  "Bench" is a metonym because it refers to the object that the players sit on as they wait to be inserted into the game from the sidelines.  Though the bench is a part of a whole in the sense that it is an element of arena architecture, "bench" is not a part of any larger whole that it is meant to evoke in the sentence.

"Fresh legs off the bench" was an expression used on September 22nd, 2013 in the second contest between the Indiana Fever and the Chicago Sky during the Women's National Basketball Association playoffs. In the image above,  Rookie Layisha Clarendon's "fresh legs" straddle the three-point line in red.  Clarendon was six-of-ten from the field during the series and hit a long three pointer at the end of game two.

The metonym "boots on the ground" is frequently used in the United States to refer to soldiers deployed in combat.  "Boots on the ground" is a metonym and not a synechdoche because "boots" are being used to represent part of a whole (e.g. the combat soldier) but they are not actually an integral part of that whole themselves (e.g. boots are not a part of a larger whole, the way that legs are limbs of a body).  In this way, the use of the word "boots" permits for a certain distance from the body while all the while remaining evoking an image of an integral part of that whole (e.g. though boots are not part of the soldier's body, they are a fundamental protective covering for the feet of a body in warfare).  In the case of this reference to soldiers employed in combat, feet attached to legs would be a synechdoche, while boots. which cover feet attached to legs, are a metonym.

The purpose of the metonym "boots on the ground" is to distance the body from the imagined scenario of the soldier in combat. In Figure 1, though there is literal evidence of "ground" on the boots (i.e. the mud caked on the boots), there is no trace of the body that wore down the boots.  The only indication of a body are the indexical impressions of wear left by the foot on the soft leather of the boots.

The synechdoche "fresh legs off the bench" serves the opposite aim: it places emphasis on the body, on physical strain and on the material sacrifice of relief players.  It is used to call attention to the able bodies of unselfish bench players, willing to contribute the anything-needed to help a team's starting line-up advance in a playoff series. The bench player is the emblem of self-sacrificing "small egos" in liberal ideologies of teamwork, organized around monomaniacal "big egos".  In this instance, "fresh legs" also has a triple meaning, "fresh" meaning not only able and athletic, but also quick in terms of wit, as well as "cool" or appealing.

"(...) The union of a human foot with a shoe depends on a monstrous custom of habit."

On the topic of his painting Le Modèle Rouge, René Magritte wrote: "Thanks to Le Modèle Rouge, we are forced to come to terms with the realization that the union of a human foot with a shoe depends on a  monstrous custom of habit."

Fig. 3  The second version of Le Modèle Rouge by René Magritte.  This version was painted in 1937 by Magritte for the British poet Edward James (Las Pozas, Xilitla in Mexico).  In the lower right hand corner of the painting is a crumpled newspaper article with a black-and-white reproduction of another Magritte work, Les Jours Gigantesques (The Titanic Days, 1928).

(Source for information on Le Modèle Rouge: Giorgio Cortenova, Magritte. Milano: Giunti Editore)

The Moving Shadow of an Image of Something or Monuments to Sequestration

Fig. 1   A shark-proof cage: the apparatus that was not used in Diana Nyad's record-setting swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida.

Fig. 2  The apparatus for North American propaganda: television broadcasters transmitted from a twin-engine Gulf Stream plane flying off Key West, Florida.  Jammed by Cuban signals, this spectacle was known as "a moving shadow of an image of . . . something...at something like 4 a.m”; or “ ‘La TV que no se ve,’ the TV that can’t be seen.”

Fig. 3  Aero Marti: grounded in May 2013 due to North American Austerity measures, otherwise known as the Sequestration.  Aero Marti had previously been awarded for its coverage of the Lights of Liberty Flotilla, a small group of boats with a mission to sail across the Florida Straits, just outside Cuban waters, to set off a fireworks display.  According to reports, the event was meant to draw attention to solidarity between Cuban exiles and those residing on the island "suffering human rights abuses by the Cuban government." The award was a large plaque and the two anchorwomen from TV Marti received it.

Fig. 5    The Video Club Juvenil organized screenings of TV Marti programming, from pre-recorded DVDs and flash drive storage, in an unnamed Cuban location. According to the President of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy, it was the desire of Cubans to receive the apparatus and its "truthful current information."  A small group gathered to watch old broadcasts of the "TV that can't be seen", the "moving shadow of an image of something".  Members of the group sat on couches and folding chairs in front of a flat-screen monitor and a nineties-era box set.  Both the monitor and the box set reflected bright glare from the room's frosted windows.

Fig. 6   The "moving shadow of an image of something" and the "fight for Liberty and Democracy" in Cuba.

(Source: John Hudson, U.S. Spends $24 Million On 'Propaganda Plane' Few Can See or Hear." The Cable. July 28, 2013)

(Source: David A. Fahrentold,"Grounded TV Marti Plane a Monument to the Limits of American Austerity."  The Washington Post. September 2, 2013)

The Micro and Macropolitics Of Plunking
or The "I Guess You Could Call Me a Statist" Argument

Fig. 1  In the early twenty-first century, North American irony had become particularly sophisticated.
Political discussion was reduced to pre-pubescent bully tactics. When Erin LaPorte posted a comment
to a social networking service on the proxy war in Syria (a proxy war between alliances US - Saudi Arabia and Russia-Iran), Kerry Popeye responded with the nickname Erin LaPork for La Porte, and Hezball-less for the Lebanese based Hezbollah.

Fig. 2   Meanwhile, through the same corporate social networking service, members commented on a pitcher they nicknamed Dumpster, intentionally "plunking" a third baseman.  The third baseman of the most winning team in North American baseball had been suspended for allegedly using performance enhancing drugs, but had been allowed to continue to play during the appeal process.   Once affectionately referred to as A-Rod, the third baseman acquired a new nickname through the social networking service: A-Roid.

Fig. 3  The rhetoric of unmanned privilege was proud to trace its froots from the antics of school yard bullydom.  From "I know you are but what am I?" to "Screw Iran, Syria, Hezball-less and Russia.  Russia is in the Mediterranean to learn how modern technology works."  Apparently, "chicks dig the long ball" meant something profound to them, as profound as the term "butt-dial" (used when a call is made by a person who accidentally sits on a smartphone in their back pocket).

Fig. 4 On Plunking and Drone Strikes or the Weekend Recreation of Statists. 

Fig. 6   They were proud to be statists: they paid their taxes, not for symphonies or farmers, but for hits on publishers of secret information and, of course, for fellow citizens to be "iced".


Fig. 5   Few would be shocked to learn that through corporate social networking, the proud statists counted a "Ministry of Defense" among their friends. The Ministry was making test flights of missiles they called "sparrows."  Meanwhile, the city of Bern in Switzerland had just passed legislation allowing its citizens to shoot down ravens.  Though animal protection groups protested, the new permissions had strong support.  Their reason: ravens ate sparrows. Worker in a "click farm" in Dhaka, Bangladesh, may have had both zucchini and the Israel Minisry of Defense facebook page on their task lists. The website of the click farm advertised they had "made it as simple as mouse-clicking." 

The Psychological Process Goes into Reverse. 
The Cameraman Does Not Shoot As Long As He Is Conscious; 
He Remains Conscious As Long As He Continues to Shoot 


Fig. 1   As if screaming his final death agony into a gramophone: there is "a new form of human consciousness that has been vouchsafed to man by the camera."  "They keep their eye to the lens and use the camera image to make of their situation a perceptible reality.  Presence of mind becomes living image."  (See Blaise Cendrars, Le Plan de l'Aiguille, 1929, and Les Confessions de Dan Yack, 1929)

Fig. 2  The camera has the advantage that it does not suffer from nerves.  The psychological process goes into reverse.  The cameraman does not shoot as long as he is conscious;  he remains conscious as long as he continues to shoot.  (See Luigi Pirandello, Quaderni di Serafino Gubbio, Operatore, 1915/1925)

Fig. 3 A still from a cell phone video circulating on a Hungarian website: the title indicates it is an account of the aftermath of chemical attacks in East Ghouta, Syria  (Video: Kelet Gouta száz sérült a vegyi gránát miatt)

(Source: Bela Balazs, Early Film Theory: Visible Man and The Spirit of Film. trans. Erica Carter. Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2010. pp. 156 - 157)

(Source : Izabella Fuzi, "Mechanical Motion and Body Movements in Early Cinema and in Hungarian Film Theory of the 1920s.  Apertura. Fall 2012. URL: http://uj.apertura.hu/2012/osz/fuzi-mechanical-motion-and-body-movements-in-early-cinema-and-in-hungarian-film-theory-of-the-1920s/)

(Source: Eszter Polonyi, "Bela Balazs and the Eye of the Microscope" Apertura. Fall 2012. URL: http://uj.apertura.hu/2012/osz/polonyi-bela-balazs-and-the-eye-of-the-microscope/)  

(Source: Erica Carter, "Balazs Bela korai filmelmelete." Apertura. URL: http://apertura.hu/2009/osz/carter)

(Source: Conversation with Andras Blazsek on Skype, September 2, 2013, 23:31 CEST)

How the Popular and Promising Were Failed By Their Families, 
Fell Into Radicalism and Became Monsters

Fig. 1  Le Cadavre -  Exquis - Boira - Le Vin - Nouveau 
or The Exquisite Cadavre Will Drink the New Wine

Fig. 2  Or, in translation:
The winged vapor deduced the bird key-locked; 
The strike of stars corrects the house without sugar; 
The wounded women bent the blond-maned guillotine.


Fig. 3 Her nanny remembered how uneasy Diana felt about the money which set them apart and how, when only six, she had asked: "Ruthie, why do we have to be rich?" There seemed to be many Dianas: the small town girl, the frothy slightly scatter-brained student, the self-denying teacher and the serious closely shorn woman whose mug shots appeared on police files in at least two cities.

 Fig. 4.  Diana wanted to destroy many things.  Not only the government she detested, but her class, her family, her past.  Perhaps, in the end, even herself.  Now that Diana is dead, now that many memories are beginning to recall things from the past, it becomes easier to understand why she became what she did and died as she did.

Fig. 5  As a midwestern Republican, she was against Social Security, federal banking regulations and everything else which smacked of "liberalism" or "big government."   At examination time she would entertain with caviar and sour cream and then memorize her notes on her way to the test.  To force herself to get up in the morning, she sometimes wrapped three alarm clocks in newspaper and placed them across the room beneath a sign that read, "Get up, you bitch!"


Fig. 5  A book which made a deep impression on thousands of white students was John Howard Griffin's "Black Like Me."  Diana had never stopped loving her family, but the bomb which accidentally killed her had been designed ultimately to kill them and their kind.  The revolution she died for would have destroyed, in a moment, the name and position it had taken them a century to build.

Fig. 6  Stills from Black Like Me, 1964, 
adapted for the screen by Feminist historian and writer Gerda Lerner.

(Source: "Beyonce's Pixie Cut:  Singer Shows Off Short, Blond Hair -- See the Pics!" uk.eonline.com. August 7, 2013)

(Source: Janet Reitman, "Dzokhar Tsarnaev: Jahar's World." Rolling Stone, July 17, 2013)

(Source: "Black Models Take Center Stage."  Life Magazine. October 17, 1969. Cover)

(Source: Elza Adamowicz, Surrealist Collage in Text and Image:  Dissecting the Exquisite Corpse.  Cambridge: University of Cambridge,  1998. p. 55)

(Source: "The Story of Diana: The Making of a Terrorist." Pharos Tribune & Press. September 14, 1970)