Section B of... The Medium is The Middleman For a Revolution Against Media First Published January 1, 1997 With June 2002 Updated Author's Notes by Al Giordano Did You Miss the Opening Lines of This Document? Click Here Section B: Three Immediate Questions: A. How do people develop a language of opposition
against Media when the Media controls all language?
An immedia project defines "language" as all communication: language encompasses more than written and spoken words, more than poetry or lyric. Language, as we define it, includes every grid of expression between people: visual images, physical gestures, the ambiance of architecture and immediate surroundings (what some have called "psychogeography"), music and sound, performance, dance, rhythms, "body language," sexual signals and expressions, experiments in freedoms of impression (through alterations of consciousness), emblems, culinary arts, sculpture, horticulture and landscaping, games of sport, rituals of social engagement and forms of human relationship...even silence...every path of creativity that exists is part of a language.
Media and technology have, in recent decades, given birth to new forms of language, some obvious, some hidden: product logos; technologies to measure and to shape public-opinion and consumption; computerized photography, cinematography, videography, recording, graphical design and word-processing (computer programmers have inflicted a new linguism, haven't they?); "community planning;" social, and now genetic, engineering -- these and any other forms of language are hopefully to be addressed by this inquiry.
At present, we have insufficient language to fully describe or act upon the situation (even the word "language" has connotations that challenge our inquiry). An immedia project is, first, an immedia laboratory. We seek new approaches to language (which might also be called means of communication) in order to break the screens between each other and our selves, and begin a project of mutual, unmediated (or de-mediated), communication.
And although this is a revolution of the individual, we recognize that no one person can reclaim, or even understand, every category or "dialect" of language that has been imposed upon our world. This is why we act together, with each other, to seek a mutual translation 9 and construction of, in many splendoured forms, an immedia language of revolt.
B. Since Media excels at co-opting popular movements, both
political and cultural, how can a popular resistance be
designed to successfully overturn the co-optation process
that has turned other important causes into commodities?
From "political" causes for the natural environment to civil rights and the multitude of equality efforts that encompass "identity politics," to counter-cultural and avant-garde artistic movements, activists and creative people have been divided by Media into market niches. Many have participated in this division by over-identifying with groups or ideologies (as consumers over-identify with brands, hobbies, careers and products). Meanwhile, the Media marginalizes and co-opts all popular movements to sufficiently disarm each's potential to unite the people as a whole.
We find the term "Media Virus" helpful as a tool to understand how the Media co-opts, then destroys (often vaporizing a concept instantly), ideas and acts of revolutionary potential. this view observes that Media behaves like a living organism, and that ideas, concepts and images mutate, like viral agents, within this "datasphere." According to this theory, and idea replicates and evolves as it moves through the Mediated grids of expression. It both subverts the "cells" it passes through, while also becoming changed itself: a Media Virus is not a catalyst (that which remains unchanged), but, rather, a force on an often unpredictable trajectory.
The Media changes the context of each idea it absorbs, and, as Jean Baudrillard and the "post-structuralists" have noted, causes the meaning within ideas to implode: all that remains from this process is a Media of commodified objects.
There are some who say, for example, that it is useless to call a revolt a "revolt," or a "revolution," because, in the Media Age, all revolts become labeled, defined and are eventually packaged as commodities -- usually linked with certain market niches -- which fuel the overall mechanisms of mediation over life.
We see a crack in this co-optation machinery: what would happen if a revolt which held refusal of mediation at the core of its message were to build momentum outside of the Media's grids of expression? This revolt, rather than manifesting itself as a sedentary organization or series of stationary institutions, adopts an unfixed stance; we are not a "solidarity" movement, but one of fluidarity, striking with stealth, surprise and creativity against Media's institutional stations.
We may, at times, appear to 10 come from nowhere; in fact, the tensions and contradictions inherent in modern Media provide us with an underscreen of tunnels through which we travel, elusively, both to shadow and to illuminate the nomadic and economic forces of the power we oppose.
In other words, we are busy constructing an Immedia Virus, creating a situation in which the powers of the Media, should they attempt to co-opt and commodify our message, will be turned against themselves, creating additional ruptures in Media's armor of illusion, which we will then further exploit for the purposes of destroying Media's control over life.
C. In history, revolts have been conducted against
governments, leaders and classes. But how can a
revolt be formulated against a technology such as Media?
An immedia project's revolution against Media, Mediation and Middlemen acknowledges a unique situation before us. Because all people suffer under the Mediated Society, every individual is, potentially, an ally in this cause.
Conversely, because each and every one of us becomes Middlemen in the course of participating in economics, politics and even creativity, every individual (including ourselves) is, potentiall, the enemy, too.
In a sense, this is an appeal to the human within everyone to engage in self-revolution; by throwing off the electronic shackles that turn us into cyborgs, we reclaim our birthright as free men and women.
We don't have the answers (yet) as to how to accomplish such an overwhelming, but necessary, goal. But we are developing the questions and the language by which answers begin to reveal themselves. To succeed in this quest, we feel that a spirit of experimentation -- one that allows for individual mistakes and for learning from their lessons -- is vital to our success.
To this end, we are developing tactics, as well as specific areas of inquiry to be evolved. These essays outline a dozen key pursuits of an immedia project:
I. Unnecessary Labor & the Broken Promises of Technology
II. Technological Imprinting
III. The Political Illusion
IV. Refusing to be Mediated
V. The Cyber-Dilemma
VI. Free Speech and Free Speakership
VIII. Property, Airwaves and Cable: "Steal This Radio"
X. Immedia in Print
XI. Developing an Immedia Language
XII. An Immedia Salon
These "essays of inquiry" should be considered working documents, to be discussed, corrected, improved and acted upon,.. immediately!
Updated Author's Notes in June 2002 Footnotes:
9. The stated need to "act... with others" proved very difficult in 1997 in the United States, although we sure had fun when we did! Post 9/11, it may be even more difficult today. The climate of fear is pervasive up there (and our compañero Buckley is no longer with us to shout, "I have no fear of this machine!" ...and so we have to shout it for him, but mainly for us.) I was very lucky to end up in Chiapas, where the Zapatista Army of National Liberation had indeed "developed a language" of resistance to the tyrannies described in this pamphlet. Narco News was thus born out of a merger of the ideas presented in this text with the practices pioneered by the Mexican indigenous movement, to whom I owe everything, perhaps even my survival, and certainly the inspiration of launching Narco News. During the Drug War on Trial case, I spoke about this synthesis of immedia thought with Zapatista theory and practice in two interviews in which I used the phrase "journalistic zapatismo" in April 2001: One with Dan Kennedy of The Boston Phoenix, and another with Preston Peet of Disinfo.com
10. As the inept Banamex-Citigroup lawyers at Akin Gump and others have learned the hard way, there have been great advantages to our having had no fixed geographic position during the past two years of the Narco News project. "We may, at times appear to come from nowhere," or, at least, from somewhere in a country called América.
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Constructing a Language of Opposition