Section i of... The Medium is The Middleman For a Revolution Against Media First Published January 1, 1997 With Immedia Summer 2002 Updated Author's Notes
and... Twelve Immediate Inquiries: 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 VII. Middlemen VIII. Property Airwaves and Cable IX. TVTV NEWSNEWS X. Immedia in Print Today: XI. Developing an Immedia Language
We are conscious that an immedia project and our collaborators have much work (and play) ahead of us in order to refine our message, our tactics and our language.
We are also conscious that, to accomplish this, we must resist all situations in which our project could become marginalized, co-opted or otherwise absorbed by our all-pervasive enemy: the Media.
For that reason, we are not looking for "press coverage" for our ventures, except in carefully plotted situations in which we drag the Media onto our turf -- the terrain of Daily Life -- for the purpose of weakening their illusory power and empowering ourselves and the citizenry to bypass these informational Middlemen. 31
We view "creative people" as, loosely speaking, an emerging "vanguard" in this process: not merely artists and performers, but anyone who lives in a state of Daily Creativity. (We wish to make a very strong pitch to other intelligences not normally considered by "art movements," until, say, a plumber is needed to lay the antenna-pipe for a pirate radio station -- at that moment, it is the plumber, not the artiste, who dances a ballet of violence upon the State.)
We don't appoint ourselves as leaders of a fixed vanguard. We don't view that as desirable or possible. We do observe, though, that creative people are those who, in greatest numbers, have arrived at some of the same conclusions we have as to the harmful nature of the modern Media.
This should not come as a surprise: creative people are among the most frustrated by over-mediation; by the inability of any individual in the "Media Age" to see a creative project through to completion without becoming dependent upon Middlemen.
As such, an immedia project picks up -- and reignites -- the embers of a torch left lying by the sigma project launched in 1964, spearheaded by the novelist Alexander Trocchi.
Trochi envisioned "An Invisible Insurrection of a Million Minds," and, as such, was a key strategist in both the Beat literary movement and the Situationist International.
Trocchi, in 1962, grasped the problem of Media early on 32, when he wrote:
"...our anonymous million can focus their attention on the problem of "leisure." A great deal of what is pompously called 'juvenile delinquency' is the inarticulate response of youth incapable of coming to terms with leisure. The violence associated with it is a direct consequence of the alienation of man from himself brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Man has forgotten how to play. And if one thinks of the soulless tasks accorded each man in the industrial milieu, of the fact that education has become increasingly technological, and for the ordinary man no more than a means of fitting him for a 'job,' one can hardly be surprised that man is lost. He is almost afraid of more leisure. He demands 'overtime' and has a latent hostility towards automation. His creativity stunted, he is orientated outwards entirely. He has to be amused. The forms that dominate his working life are carried over into leisure which becomes more and more mechanised; thus he is equipped with machines to contend with leisure which machines have afforded him. And to offset all this, to alleviate the psychological wear and tear of our technological age, there is, in a word, ENTERTAINMENT.
"When our man after the day's work comes twitching, tired, off the assembly-line into what are called without a shred of irony his 'leisure hours,' with what is he confronted? In the bus on the way home he reads a newspaper which is identical to yesterday's newspaper, in the sense that it is a reshake of identical elements... four murders, thirteen disasters, two revolutions, and 'something approaching a rape'...which in turn is identical to the newspaper of the day before that...three murders, nineteen disasters, one counter-revolution, and something approaching an abomination...and unless he is a very exceptional man, one of our million potential technicians, the vicarious pleasure he derives from paddling in all this violence and disorder obscures him from the fact that there is nothing new in all this 'news' and that his daily perusal of it leads not to a widening of his consciousness of reality but to a dangerous contraction of his consciousness, to a species of mental process that has more in common with the salivations of Pavlov's dogs than with the subtleties of human intelligence."
Trocchi envisioned (and indeed, his vision was, to some degree, carried out by the Beats, the American counterculture and the European Situationists of his era) that the enlistment of "creative people" into a kind of vanguard leads to a seizing -- and a corresponding freeing -- of the "grids of expression." His sigma project, still unknown to many, constituted a secret history behind the revolts of the 1950s and 1960s.
But by the late '60s, countercultural and "revolutionary" efforts had largely been co-opted or marginalized by Madison Avenue and its corporate sponsors. Coca-cola taught the world to sing jingles, and the Media began to absorb all revolt into what Raoul Vaneigem labels "spurious opposition" -- oppostion that ends up fueling the very levers of power it set out to oppose.
However, the experience of Trocchi's sigma project, his "invisible insurrection," is valuable to our current undertaking. We view the creative people of today as similarly alienated, like Trocchi's contemporaries in the arts of his time. Trocchi, too, borrowed from past efforts by his predecessors: "In the 1920s," he wrote, "Diaghilev, Picasso, Stravinski and Nijinski acted in concert to produce a ballet; surely it does not strain our credulity to imagine a far larger group of our contemporaries acting in concert...."
An immedia project has spent the Summer and Autumn of 1996 conducting a kind of "anti-market research" 33 to gauge the level of alienation, and the potential for action, among modern creative artists. We have found, to our pleasure, many like minds, especially among some accomplishing talents in the rock-and-roll, performance and visual arts, literary, poetic and "activist" communities (such as Steal This Radio's participants). There is a yearning for something to happen, and yet the idea that something -- can be made to happen, struggles against the cynicism and apathy of our era.
We're not sure, but it may be the case that all that is needed to detonate an explosion of autonomous actions that are immediate -- in the truest sense of the word -- requires simply the development and refinement of a language that can be used to oppose Media, including the successful implementation of the kinds of tactics employed by TVTV NEWSNEWS, pirate radio and other projects. At very least, these strategies and tactics inform our practices in ways that place our fire closer to the cultural fuse.
To that end, the most urgent task before us is to secure a space in New York City 34 from which to launch the next phase of this effort.
Updated Notes on Section i:
31. The tendencies reflected by this text - so alienated and out of the loop in 1996 - have amassed sufficient strength and deep enough root in public opinion and specific public involvement that we now, frankly, have more "spectacular terrain" from which to drag the commercial Media onto our terrain of daily life. The Narco News project - built on the foundation of this document - is now larger, in terms of the size of the readership and participation by readers, than many of the media outlets that could have, years ago, coopted an immedia project. We still pick our shots in the commercial media with great care and selectivity, but we have moved onto a more public stage. And this development will bring, in the immediate future, more advances from the mountain of refusal-of-mediation into the metropoli of a weak and discredited commercial Media ripe for more direct provocation.
32. To read the full text of Alexander Trocchi's magnum opus in English, originally published as "Technique du coupe du monde," in the Internationale Situationniste #8 (January 1963), see: http://members.optusnet.com.au/~rkeehan/si/invisible.html
33. During Immedia Summer 2002, we have opened up another flank of this "anti-market research": To gauge the level of alienation and potential for action not, as six years ago, among creative artists, but, rather, today in 2002 among the masses. We conclude: From South América to North América, the objective conditions of public opinion exist sufficiently to make possible the next stage of the resurrected immedia project.
34. We are no longer seeking a space in expensive New York City, which used to be (it was said by somebody, we don't remember who), an island off the coast of the United States of America. It's been repatriated under the flag of the Dollar, and there is frankly little hope for a project like ours there until, say, the crash of the New York Stock Exchange. In the meantime, though, there are Bigger Apples in our América, where revolution's heart still beats and the critical masses of creative individuals are forming. Which brings us to the final chapter of this text: An Immedia Salon, which, South of the Border, is now known as Salón Chingón.
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Text and a New Name for this Project
XII. An Immedia Salon
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