Monday, May 10, 2010


I started this “blog” in February 2010, after a visit to my native country – a short skip back behind the walls of Homeland Security. The face of the regime had certainly changed, but the course remains distressing. The scurvy tunes, written “through the estranged and alien optic of exile,” launched the bad notes of my distress.

Around the discordant rantings of a mask named Jehan Alonzo, I played, posting polemical ripostes and a plunder of images. In the days of Millennium Challenge and America’s Army (the Pentagon war gaming exercise and US Army’s wildly successful online “multiplayer first-person shooter,” respectively), even the subversive refuge of “serious play” can be made to generate weaponized toys for domination.

Nevertheless, my ludic mischief gave me short relief, and so I persisted. Flares, stains, ciphers, signals and tunes stacked up. From these critical and parodic figurations sobering constellations emerged. At least seven of them, circling, probing:

    the deeper meanings and legacies of Hiroshima;

    the enforcement functions of state terror since 1945;

    the dirty “war on terror” and the problems of enjoyment;

    tea partiers and American pseudo-democracy;

    the stalled project of revolution;

    the politics and blocked promise of art;

    the liberation of nature and the difficult outlines of freedom and necessity.

Those familiar with my work will recognize the problems that have concerned me for years. Playing through the disturbances of re-encountered homeland, I returned to my pack of obsessions.

And as I grappled with them yet again, the site seemed to grow on its own, tracing a reflection that edged along in several directions, archiving a process of thinking in and through images, as well as concepts and the playful stuff of language. Across posts, critical propositions and running analyses have begun to link up into sustained arguments. Along the way, some political positions were marked out and elaborated.

On this foundation, I now want to open up the project to a more collective and polyphonic participation. Let the positions so far registered be taken as editorial stance. Let the constellations indicated serve as topical problematics. All else is open. I now invite, and will solicit, contributions from friends and comrades, and their extended networks.

(I’ll continue to toy with JA, since his voice and imposture amuse me. But hereafter I’ll initial my texts, hoping thereby to reassure friends who feared I’d gone off strangely.)

Be invited then, to help me shift this thing in the direction of an online magazine – a critical commune relentlessly aimed at the given, and thinking beyond it in a spirit inclusive of serious play. It won’t be artful all the time, but neither will it count for tenure. Let these stay processural notings, given freely – short-form essays broadcast in defiance of proprietary hoarding of ideas. If the experiment fails, so be it. The struggle continues, if not by this wager, then by others.

Gene Ray (GR)

On the images: The homepage image is the originary ground zero, north of Alamogordo, New Mexico – in a barren stretch of desert the Spanish named La Jornada del Muerto, the “Journey of Death.” There, on 16 July 1945, the scientists, techno-administrators, brass and grunts of the top-secret Manhattan Project came down from Los Alamos to detonate the Trinity test shot, the first atomic explosion. The terror bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki followed with all haste, just as quickly as technically possible. The photo, taken by Elliott Erwitt, shows the site as it appeared in January 1965.

JA’s visage qua avatar is Seiji Fukasawa’s photo of a wristwatch pulled from the rubble of Hiroshima. Its hands, arrested by the blast, tell mutely of a passage to a new time of terror. The still unfolding meanings of that moment, both stoppage and threshold to a new mode of enforcement, are a mirror to the concept of humanity and its ruined myth of progress. In that mirror, every face is unhappily reflected and politics takes on the urgency it has never, since then, for one second relinquished or relaxed, whatever collective denials, disavowals and twisted rationalizations obscure it. In the threatened terminations of that catastrophic demonstration, however, there still pulses a latent political imperative: in ways yet to be actualized, that blasted moment of terror promises to make humans and abolitionists of us all.