spielraum - invisible freedom
they say that the inventions of the famous swiss clock happened in the spare time. the farmer who were working on them had nothing left to do in the winter but to endure the dark hours, waiting for the time to pass till the next spring when they manufactured the tiny clockworks. in their hearts a balanced wheel, the german call 'unruh' (restlessness), was working. the oscillation of this tiny spiral spring, it's restless salience and recoil, determines their beat. the conserved energy of the spring, moving back and forth in an endless cycle, heralded a new logic of time.
"Our bars and city streets, our offices and furnished rooms, our railroad stations and our factories seemed to close relentlessly around us. Then came film and exploded this prison-world with the dynamite of the split second, so that now we can set off calmly on journeys of adventure among its far-flung debris."
walter benjamin, the work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility (das kunstwerk im zeitalter seiner technischen reproduzierbarkeit)
the constellation of the spielraum (the room-for-play) is one of a light refracting through cracks of the debris of civilisation, as it is a hidden place, a room-in-between, a cover-up, an interspace in which the original threatening bounderies are reinvented as the crayon-lines of playfield markings, beyond which the game is off or out (eventhough or especially by its compliancy to rules as a mimicri of governance). the spielraum is to be opened, commenced, eroeffnet - at the same time shelter - secret and hidden - for a condition that would openly not be maintainable. it is the realm of the child, that by the work of mimic and repetition can endure the feeling of being totally overpowered by the world of the grown ups and manages to bodily innervate the structure of the new thing (arriving from this world of adults and ancestorial authorities) in an experimentation that reintegrates its language, its symbolic space into the "image stock of humanity". freud had regarded the game (spiel) as part of a structural or metaphoric revenge the child is feeling towards the incomensurable complexity and injustice of the world. the distance and the non-availability of love demands understood as a strategy of work from the child, that is "beyond the pleisure-principle". the neurotic repetition of the "fort-da" game is like a mantric, shamanistic dance in which the child exorcises the overburden of love demanded from it and demanded of it, but the destructive revenge also yields the capsule of an experimental productivity, in which the "petit objet a" must be regarded as a try to defend the authority of the other and rescuing it through the destructive rage of sadness that is inherent in the status of loss.
the spielraum (the room-for-play) benjamin establishes in a constellation where the individual feels stuck in between a technological threat (of a coming war) and a restorative aestheticism (in fascism) in which traditional art is in danger to be re-ritualised in a pseudo-cultic enviroment, is itself a metaphor for a modern ambiguity that characterizes the phantasmagorical metaphors of the 20th century. in confrontation with his historical situation the engagement on the spiel in benjamins oeuvre is loaded with a clandestine hope towards a present that - disabled to reflect full scale on the horror and shock it is exposed to - might become livable through innervation rather then realisation. the avantgardistic and revolutionary approach has this in common: it is an utopian hope that needs to stay connected to a beyond as it is longing to be real. the experimentation with the new material, the new technological thing, is in an avantgarde linked to a functional or re-politicised possibility of its outcome, but it is drawn on the counterimage - the flipside of the coin - the outside and outlawed, the hurt and the doubtfull, the rejected and the beggar.
as of today reflections of these phantasmagorical projections into the word spielraum are still appearent, but its idiomatic usage shifted - almost naturally the metaphorical mood changed from maintaining a refuge and sheltering possibility to an ever-narrowing-down of its given clearance - der spielraum wird enger, kleiner, geringer - the room for play gets smaller, the limitations are closing in. the structuring of leisure-time by a consumerist industriality seems to have perforated the possibility to play, so that its innocence equals its powerlessness - the danger we are facinging in this neoliberal idology of commodities is a violence growing inside everyone, because the empowering play has never become clear of its character of revenge.
with this in mind it is neither a hedonistic reduction nor a re-aestheticized conservational attitude to mention the posession that leaves a trace in the spiel of the dance. rather than constructing a political power of art, it so directly doesn't naturally have (without lending everything to the symbolism of civilisation, itself felt primordialy rejected from), there could be a re-evaluation of this authority that is the historical force pushing the childs play into the invisible resistance. the groove in the dance (the word spiel, spil in german ethymological derives from a dancing movement) signs a trace of a power of authority that can't be consumed - the movement ever only beeing led to execution and repetition, until a trance might disolve the intention to reason with the material. the gravitational pull of a beat is the extraction of a lost promisse, that is to stand on the ground of this world rightfully. no reconstructed political avantgarde could ever get out of its total constructed phantasma if not in regard to it's otherness, it's beyond that makes them aprez.
to dance is the work of a materialistic historian, to recommence to the innervations learned in the strategies of your own childhood.
allgegenwart - invisible presence
"The Celts of the Scottish Highlands have a special word for the host of the dead : sluagh, meaning 'spirit-multitude'. 'The spirits fly about in great clouds like starlings, up and down the face of the world, and come back to the scenes of their earthly transgressions. (...) They fight battles in the air as men do on the earth. They may be heard and seen on clear, frosty nights, advancing and retreating, retreating and advancing against one another. After a battle their crimson blood may be seen staining rocks and stones.' The word gairm means shout or cry, and sluagh-ghairm was the battle-cry of the dead. This word later became 'slogan'. The expression we use for the battlecries of our modern crowds derives from the Highland hosts of the dead."
Ellias Canetti, Crowds and Power
the murmuration of starlings is a consistently recuring image in social media in present times. it seems like the complexity of the cloud of birds swarming is parallel to a collective feeling in modern industrial society to deal with a guilty feeling of excessive demands of a technological ubiquity (allgegenwart). the fascination for the natural phenomenon adresses a sublime and positive feeling towards infusible complexity. it functions as a substituted absolution for the overstrained, a pacifier for the paranoid.
"ta voix ma parvient malgre l'enorme distance"
"your voice reaches me in spite of the huge distance"
Guillaume Apollinaire, Lettre Ocaan
when apollinaire awaited the 'gift of ubiquity' (le don d'ubiquite) for enabling art to reach further out (further in spacial distance, but also in political class) his fascination with the possibility of modern technology (radio and telegraphy) was in line with an avantgardistic hope that art could somewhat use these new potencials for its own distribution and thus change the existencial and political sorrows of those who would not be able to find accomplices of their misfit beeing. in the way the metaphor of ubiquity shiftet from the hope of simultaneity that apollinaire and the cubists and some years later paul valery expressed to the threatening feeling of over-complexity that silences the human condition and narrative, it surrenders to the slogan - in both ways: the mass movement and the horde of the dead.
strahlung - invisible force
the 19th century saw a production of technology that came out of science but wasn't any longer confined by the paradigmes that organized it. in phantasmagoric shows experimental devices and effects not yet conceptualized, amazed the spectator and even triggered economical applications long before they were understood by the science they originated from.
the presentation of an invisible force, underwent a constant taper ratio. flashing lights of electro-static discharges, galvanic batteries and elctro-magnetic interactions that were able to multiply the amount of energy in the 'experiments' were replaced by spooky relays that were triggered by distant invisible radio waves. radium, the first element that showed a radiation on its own, soon became a mythological substance, good for almost anything between medicine and cosmetics, and the radioscopy of the x-rays magically showed the image of the innerparts of any object, before the force of radiation became first a health risk to those exposed to it and then finally a martial destructive threat of the atom-bomb that grew into the fear and paranoia of the cold war period in the 20th century.
"But when everything has disappeared in the night, "everything has disappeared" appears. This is
the other night. Night is this apparition: "everything has disappeared." It is what we sense when
dreams replace sleep, when the dead pass into the deep of the night, when night's deep appears in
those who have disappeared. Apparitions, phantoms, and dreams are an allusion to this empty
night. It is the night of Young, where the dark does not seem dark enough, or death ever dead
enough. What appears in the night is the night that appears. And this eeriness does not simply
come from something invisible, which would reveal itself under cover of dark and at the
shadows' summons. Here the invisible is what one cannot cease to see; it is the incessant making
itself seen. The "phantom" is meant to hide, to appease the phantom night. Those who think they
see ghosts are those who do not want to see the night. They crowd it with the terror of little
images, they occupy and distract it by immobilizing it -- stopping the oscillation of eternal
starting over. It is empty, it is not; but we dress it up as a kind of being; we enclose it, if possible, in a name, a story and a resemblance; (...)
In the night one can die; we reach oblivion. But this other night is the death no one dies, the
forgetfulness which gets forgotten. In the heart of oblivion it is memory without rest."
Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature.
Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature.