Tuesday, November 08, 2005

au pied de chaque tour


Walter Benjamin: "The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are "still" possible in the twentieth [21st] century is NOT philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge - unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable."

BBCWorld: "Curfew powers were invoked under a 1955 law and it is the first time it has been implemented in mainland France. The law was originally passed to combat violence in Algeria in its war of independence against France from 1954-62. The plan, announced on Monday, was approved in a special Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning. As well as being invoked in Algeria, it was also used in New Caledonia in 1985."


Benjamin, again: "Who would have believed it! we are told that new Joshuas
at the foot of every tower, as though irritated with
time itself, fired at the dials as though to stop the day."

And then: "The awareness that they are about to make the continuum of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary classes at the moment of their action."


We were never French.

Heard on BBCWorld video of rioters in paris suburbs: "We are not French."

There is a tradition of French post-structuralist feminists aligning themselves with the French Mahgrebin. Helene Cixous was actually an French Algerian Jew who named her sub-alternity "black." Her feminine self was a "dark continent," France's Africa. Revolutionary action meant a desiring freedom wherein this blackness wove in pleasure driven channels through and across "France." I mention this not to support this problematic conflation of identities among French women and Mahgrebin revolutionaries but rather to suggest that Algerian French women are perhaps the least French of anyone involved in the current violence. It is for the women in these suburbs that time needs to stop. They cannot claim either womanhood or revolutionary status, because in france they have never been French and in the Mahgrebin "ghettos," they have never been revolutionaries. The French government has banned the headscarf; in the suburban housing projects, honor killings are still applied as moral law. A man in the suburbs of Paris recently exacted revenge against an enemy by destroying a valuable piece of that enemy's property - his girlfriend. But the residents of these places are not French. And clearly, something needs to explode. An entire population of women has been denied identity by the state in terms of their community and by their community in terms of their gender. This is a standstill that we can only look at in its movement, because the female residents of the Algerian ghettos have no clock towers to stand at the foot of; they are moving along an economy of desire that sweeps them up and channels them, but they don't have the luxury of a pleasure to explode into the circuits of culture and state. They must first have bodies with which to desire freedom before a desiring freedom can bear pleasure along the channels of revolutionary possibility.


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