It is the centenary of that most original of avant-gardes – Dada! To celebrate, McKenzie Wark offers a RetroDada Manifesto. It was written at the invitation of Anita Hugi and David Dufresne for an event at Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, 4-5 March 2016, where Dada was born. For more information on that event, see http://dada-data.net/en/ Below is the text in English, followed by French, German and Italian. Feel free to share, remix, etc.
RetroDada begins with disgust. Once again the world gets its war on. While some cities are attacked by bombers, others are strafed by art fairs. This time there’s no Switzerland of neutrality where refugees might cool their heels, as now the whole globe itself overheats. The insomnia of reason breeds monsters.
We are all cyborgs now. To the point where this reality no longer appears at all striking. As so perfectly pictured in Alex Rivera’s film Sleepdealer (2008), we are biological machines strapped to information machines which together function as war machines. It is remarkable how much of our cyborg existence Donna Haraway anticipated. In this essay, I want simply to extract some pertinent themes from four of her books and from an extended interview conducted by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve. I will stress her connection to Marxist thought, not to deny her significance as a feminist writer, but to supplement it.
McKenzie Wark assesses the uses of Walter Benjamin today.
"Benjamin practiced his own version of what I call low theory, in that the production of knowledge was not contemplative and was disinterested in the existing language games of the disciplines. Knowledge has to be communicated in an effective manner. 'The task of real, effective presentation is just this: to liberate knowledge from the bounds of compartmentalized discipline and make it practical.'
"Benjamin has a genius for using the energies of the obsolete. But one has to ask if the somewhat cult-like status Benjamin now enjoys is something of a betrayal of the critical leverage Benjamin thought the obsolete materials of the past could play in the present."
Anarchist thought has lately picked up a rather worrying infestation of reactionary themes, such as a hyper-macho celebration of eternal combat, in which all that matters is the authentic act of aggressive self-assertion. It isn’t the first time. In this case, it’s a matter of paying too much attention to a scholastic, high theory tradition in which known Nazis such as Schmitt and Heidegger are treated with a respect that betrays the utter corruption of continental philosophy in its waning years.
Traducido por Sergio Andrés Rueda y Manuel Vargas Ricalde
A Note from the Translator:
This pertinent conversation between Slavoj Žižek and McKenzie Wark on Wark's Molecular Red needs to be available as widely as possible. I think many people in Spanish speaking countries are ready to get into the conversation if we want to have a global perspective of the same phenomena that affects us all.
Read Žižek piece here.
Es iluminador el tener al camarada Žižek para que escriba sobre el trabajo de uno. Pienso que sus comentarios sobre Molecular Red resaltan dos rutas por las que la teoría puede escoger para moverse en este momento: la ruta elevada de la filosofía, o la ruta baja de algo más, aún desconocido. No se trata tanto sobre la ruta correcta o incorrecta, sino más sobre qué tipo de cosas nos permite hacer el tomar una ruta sobre otra. Por lo que permítanme explicar, vía el contraste con la ruta elevada de Žižek, el por qué he tomado la baja.