I used to work in Manhattan in a corporate office. Every lunch, I would break out of this cubicle world and walk the streets. I wanted to be out there and be creative, although of course my job as a 3d artist was meant to be creative as well. But that’s not the same. Lunchbreak was my time to be an artist, a real artist not a creative professional. I had a crappy point and shoot camera in my hand and took pictures of random passerby’s, from the hip. Random pictures at first, but with practice I started seeing through my wrist; I began to roughly aim at interesting subjects, corporate people in a hurry, static homeless people, tourists etc. These walks and what I call “walk by shootings” became an obsession of sorts. The financial meltdown ended this chapter of my life. What follows are some of these shots:
- citations are from Stephen Duncombe’s book Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy.
“It is New Year’s Day 1994, the day the North American Free Trade Agreement goes into effect, and out of the mountains of southern Mexico walk three thousand indigenous peasants wearing black ski masks, some carrying rifles, others with merely machetes or long sticks, declaring war on the Mexican oligarchy. The ‘First Declaration of the Lacondon Jungle’ of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) explains that this ragtag band of rebels are taking up arms in the struggle for political democracy and economic justice. The Zapatista’s resident poet-in-arms Subcomandante Marcos then lays out their plans. The first step is: ‘to advance to the capital of the country, overcoming the Mexican Federal Army, protecting in our advance the civilian population, and permitting the people liberated to elect, freely and democratically, their own administrative authorities.’ It’s a tall order. The Mexican army is 130,000 soldiers strong, and Mexico City, the capital, is 663 very indirect miles away; the Zapatista army numbers in the low thousands and many carry only sticks.” pp. 165-6
This guerilla army manage to be simultaneously real and imaginary, or at least, imagined. They actually have taken control of sections of Chiapas, but most of their actions are more aimed at hijacking the media, creating what Duncombe proposes as the “ethical spectacle.” A great detail is that when Subcomandante Marcos was interviewed by Gabriel García Márquez, he insisted that Don Quixote is the best book of political theory. The strength of their insurrection lies not in the accomplishment of stated goals – though they have arguably had effects on the ground level – but in the imagining of other possibilities.
“Six years after the EZLN demonstrated their formidable army to the world, they unveiled their ‘air force’ against a Mexican army encampment. Guerillas wrote notes to soldiers asking them to put down their weapons, then folded these notes into hundreds of paper airplanes and flew them over the razor wire encircling the armed camp.” pp. 166-7
Thuggees were a group of people actively involved in the robbery and murder of travelers in India. Their presence has been recorded in the Indian sub-continent as early as the 13th century and lasting all the way through the 19thth century. The modern use of the word “thug” is derived directly from this Sanskrit original sthaga (meaning scoundrel).
Particular groups of thuggees developed methods of crime that helped them evolve from simple fraternity like organizations in the beginning to large crime families, preserving their secrets and initiating new members as apprentices. Their organization borrows from piracy, the mafia as well as religious cults. Certain large scale thuggee exploits have also been likened to paramilitary operations. Some literature even describes them as a military caste of Hindu society.
They flourished during the period when caravans were the main mode of transportation. Often, members joined the caravan to be attacked as bonafide travelers and spent a lot of time gaining the trust of their fellow travelers. They would also keep in touch with their members and communicate information about the movement of the caravan. Attacks were carried out as primarily ambushes across particularly rough terrains, desert land or when escape was cut off by rivers. Prefered methods of killing were strangulation but sometimes there were massacres that helped perpetrate the aura of ruthlessness and elite force of the Thuggees.
Thuggees have frequently played a part in folkore and were known for their ability to evade capture and plan strategies that lasted over journeys of hundreds of miles and changing terrain.
(A group of thuggess circa 1863, source: http://www.harappa.com/photo2/lufr.html)
Mujahideen translates from the Arabic as a struggler involved in a holy war. It has specific religious and military connotations as it was employed by Muslim rulers/warriors who conquered land in the name of spreading Islam. Today, it often stands in for an “insurgent”.
Mujahideen are best described in the 21st century as armed warriors who subscribe to militant Islamic ideology. Their presence is established in various countries of the world but they are best known for their exploits in Afghanistan, Pakistan/India (Kashmir), Chechnya Somalia/Ethiopia, and the Balkan region. They however are also found in Myanmar, Phillipines, Iran and Iraq.
Mujahideen have been alternately romanticized and demonized in the public perception. As late as the Regan era, they were praised as “freedom fighters” and portrayed as heroes in hollywood movies including Rambo 3 and The Living Daylight.
Much of their training came through established Western (or pro-western) government agencies including the CIA, China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia – especially during the height of the Cold War and the Soviet war efforts in Afghanistan.
In the modern war against terrorism, the word has taken on important meaning as a renewed symbol of resistance to Western power. New encryption software known as Mujahideen Secrets was described “the first Islamic computer program for secure exchange [of information] on the Internet” on Al-Ekhlas (an Islamic news forum) in Jan 2008.
Gulabi Gang http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7068875.stm
The Gulabi Gang is a group of Indian women and their allies who fights for women’s rights, specifically in rural regions in India. They are using force and strength to combat a systematic oppression of women and impoverished individuals, forcing communities and government officials to value all people. The group works outside the traditional system of NGOs and government programs/police because they feel that taking the law into their own hands is more effective.
From the BBC article above: “ The pink women of Banda shun political parties and NGOs because, in the words of their feisty leader, Sampat Pal Devi, “they are always looking for kickbacks when they offer to fund us”.
Two years after they gave themselves a name and an attire, the women in pink have thrashed men who have abandoned or beaten their wives and unearthed corruption in the distribution of grain to the poor.
They have also stormed a police station and attacked a policeman after they took in an untouchable man and refused to register a case.
‘Nobody comes to our help in these parts. The officials and the police are corrupt and anti-poor. So sometimes we have to take the law in our hands. At other times, we prefer to shame the wrongdoers,’ says Sampat Pal Devi, between teaching a ‘gang’ member on how to use a lathi (traditional Indian stick) in self defence.
Sampat Pal Devi is a wiry woman, wife of an ice cream vendor, mother of five children, and a former government health worker who set up and leads the “pink gang”.
‘Mind you,’ she says, ‘we are not a gang in the usual sense of the term. We are a gang for justice.’
Taken From: http://libcom.org/thought/situationists-an-introduction
“A short introduction to the ideas of the Situationists. Based in France, their strand of libertarian Marxism became popular after the mass strikes of 1968.
Situationist ideas came from the European organisation the Situationist International, formed in 1957. While it lasted only 15 years, its ideas were deeply influential, and have been a part of Western society – and radical movements – ever since.
Resisting any attempts to file their ideas into a static ideology, situationism, the SI called attention to the priority of real life, real live activity, which continually experiments and corrects itself, instead of just constantly reiterating a few supposedly eternal truths like the ideologies of Trotskyism, Leninism, Maoism or even anarchism. Static ideologies, however true they may be, tend, like everything else in capitalist society, to rigidify and become fetishised, just one more thing to passively consume.
Partly as a result of this, Situationist ideas are notoriously difficult to explain, and open to a wide degree of interpretation. However, a few facts can be stated. Most introductions to the Situationists focus on their cultural ideas, particularly in relation to detournement ( subverting elements of popular culture) and the development of punk, but the roots of Situationist ideas are in Marxism. Libertarian Marxism, closer to anarchism than authoritarian strands of traditional Marxism, with the central idea that workers are systematically exploited in capitalism and that they should organise and take control of the means of production and organise society on the basis of democratic workers’ councils.
The Situationists, or Situs, were the first revolutionary group to analyse capitalism in its current consumerist form. Then as now, in the West most workers were not desperately poor, toiling 12 hours a day in factories and mines (workers’ struggles over the previous 150 years saw to that) but the poverty of everyday life had never been greater. Workers were not beaten down with savage repression, so much as with illusions in empty consumer goods, or spectacles, which were imbued by culture and marketing with characteristics they don’t really possess. For example, that purchasing this or that gadget or brand of shoes will make your life complete, or make your sad life like that of the celebrities and models culture shows us.
The Situs argued that increased material wealth of workers was not enough to stop class struggle and ensure capitalism’s perpetual existence, as many on the left argued at the time, since authentic human desires would be always in conflict with alienating capitalist society. Situationist tactics included attempting to create “situations” where humans would interact together as people, not mediated by commodities. They saw in moments of true community the possibility of a future, joyful and un-alienated society. “People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have corpses in their mouths.”1
In a (anti-)spectacular demonstration of the validity of their ideas, a group of Situationists, along with anarchists, at the Nanterre University were instrumental in sparking the Revolt of May 1968 which swept the country, bringing it to a state of near-revolution, with 10 million workers on General Strike, many of them occupying their workplaces.
The key figure in the SI, Guy Debord, committed suicide in 1994 but Situationist ideas live on, having been made a fundamental part of most anarchist theory today, as well as their thoughts on consumerism which are now held as truisms by most people.”
Rosicrucians is a secret society of mystics formed in medieval Germany. Between 1607 and 1616 two anonymous manifestos were published, Fama Fraternitatis RC and Confessio Fraternitatis. The manisfestos told the legend of a German doctor and mystic philosopher Christian Rosenkreuz who studied in the middle east under various masters and then gathered a small circle of friends and founded the order of the RC sometime in the 1400.
The modern groups who link themselves to Rosicrucian tradition can be devided into three categories: - Esoteric Christian Rosicrucian - Masonic Rosicrucian - Initiatory groups as the magical order Golden Dawn
According to the “Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis” it is ”not the thoughts of a single teacher or group, not a religion, dogma or single philosophy. It is knowledge”.
Through their teachings you ”gain knowledge of metaphysics, mysticism, philosophy, psychology, parapsychology and science not taught by conventional educational systems or traditional religions”.
They promise a life change and amazing results:
”Imagine having the ability to actualise your highest potential in all areas of life including family and social relationships, career, health and personal development. Imagine developing greater creativity and discipline to overcome life’s problems. Imagine setting a new course for your future; one that promises to be more in line with who you really are and more fulfilling than anything you’ve previously experienced!”
Here is the knowledge they provide through home study lessons.
“For meeting the challenge of the AIDS epidemic and its crisis of conscience with vigilant acts of political and cultural provocation – thereby giving voice to the essential creative will of our humanity.”
ACT UP is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis.
We advise and inform. We demonstrate. WE ARE NOT SILENT
Act-UP is an organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the HIV-AIDS epidemic and the prevention failures of the U.S. government through protest and informational campaigns. It was formed in 1987 and for a time was very active. The organization is designed to operate spontaneously and without a central leader, instead utilizing smaller-scale organization based on affinity groups. They follow a general principle of civil disobedience and non-violence, seeking instead to optimize media attention and impact. There are clear guidelines on the website for what actions are acceptable, what happens in an arrest, and how to form affinity groups:
“Affinity groups are self-sufficient support systems of about 5 to 15 people. A number of affinity groups may work together toward a common goal in a large action, or one affinity group might conceive of and carry out an action on its own. Sometimes, affinity groups remain together over a long period of time, existing as political support and/or study groups, and only occasionally participating in actions.”
“1. Your objectives must be reasonable. You must believe you are fair and you must be able to communicate this to your opponent.
2. Maintain as much eye contact as possible.
3. Make no abrupt gestures. Move slowly. When practical, tell your opponent what you are going to do before you do it. Don’t say anything threatening, critical, or hostile.
4. Don’t be afraid of stating the obvious; say simply, “You’re shouting at me,” or “You’re hurting my arm.””
Act-Up has done numerous major demonstrations, typically towards the goals of raising awareness about AIDS, AIDS prevention, government inaction and mismanagement, the high cost of antiretroviral medications, and other major concerns.
The first major protest done by Act-Up was on Wall Street, where activist demanded access to potentially life-saving medications. The protestors practiced civil disobedience, and several were arrested by the police.
March, 1987: Outraged by the government’s mismanagement of the AIDS crisis, concerned individuals unite to form the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. Our first demonstration takes place three weeks later on March 24th on Wall Street, the financial center of the world, to protest the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies (especially Burroughs Wellcome, manufacturer of AZT). Seventeen people are arrested. Shortly after the demonstration, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announces it will shorten its drug approval process by two years.
June 1, 1987: ACT UP joins other national activist groups in civil disobedience at the White House in Washington, DC. In a display of AIDS-phobia, the police wear rubber gloves while arresting protesters. Another demonstration is held at the Third International Conference on AIDS.
June 4, 1987: When Northwest Orient Airlines refuses passage to people with AIDS (PWAs), ACT UP erupts in protest at the airline’s New York offices. Two suits are brought against Northwest. The policy is reversed.
June 21, 1987: ACT UP’s four-day, round-the-clock protest at New York City’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital, one of four AIDS Treatment Evaluation Units (ATEU’s) in the City, demands more clinical trials of promising drugs other than AZT and more people with AIDS in the trials.
September 9, 1987: ACT UP protests the inadequacies of the newly-formed Presidential Commission on AIDS when it meets for the first time in Washington, DC. Several ACT UP members give testimony.
January 15, 1988: ACT UP NY’s Women’s Caucus organizes first ACT UP action focused on women and HIV. Five hundred people protest an article telling heterosexual women that unprotected vaginal intercourse with an HIV+ man is safe. A documentary about the action, “Doctors, Liars, and Women: AIDS Activists Say NO to Cosmo,” produced by two Women’s Caucus members, is later shown around the country, winning awards and placed in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
March 24, 1988: To celebrate our first anniversary, ACT UP returns to Wall Street. More than 100 activists are arrested; ACT UP receives major media coverage and issues central to the AIDS crisis are reported. The concept of “AIDS activism” gains credibility.
May 1-9, 1988: ACT UP branches around the country mount nine days of protests focusing on specific, unattended aspects of the epidemic such as IV drug use, homophobia, people of color, women, testing programs, prison programs and children with AIDS. More than 50 cities participate.
June 23, 1988: ACT UP meets homeless people at a “Talk-In” at a TentCity in CityHallPark, built to protest the city’s policy on the homeless. ACT UP gives out information on AIDS and distributes condoms; the homeless share their experiences in the shelters and in the streets.
October 11, 1988: ACT UP, joined by the national ACT NOW coalition, closes down the FDA outside of Washington, DC. More than 1,000 activists stage a series of demonstrations which result in almost 180 arrests. The event receives international press coverage. A historical event, shutting down the FDA represents to a vast audience the lethargy of this dysfunctional bureaucracy, which is in charge of testing and approving possible AIDS treatments.
November 25, 1988: Trump Tower Thanksgiving Action – ACT UP protests a lack of housing for PWA’s while city gives tax breaks to wealthy developers. Numerous affinity group actions and arrests are made.
- a monastic community of men and women belonging to different Christian churches. - a monastic community seeking God in prayer, poverty, celibacy and obedience to the Gospel.
Started in 1965 by Enzo Bianchi. Now the community is made up of about 80 members, men and women from different denominations.
They live a simple life focused on prayer and work. They do gardenwork, ceramics, icon painting, carpentry, publishing and printing. Traditional monasteries are not always recognized as “creative communities”, but creativity is in fact a large part of their life together, exemplified in practices such as those mentioned above. Through their work they wish to serve the community and the local churches in their surrounding. Their community receives no financial assistance and lives entirely on what its members earn. It is open to and welcomes all visitors.
A day in the community starts at 4.30 for their personal reading of the scripture and prayer. At 6:00 there is the first of the three daily community prayers. From 7:00 to 8:00 they have an additional hour of silence to focus on prayer or spiritual reading. At 8:00 is the end of silence and work begins. They work until 12:00 and at 12:30 is the midday prayer. After that they eat lunch in silence with classical music. Work begins again at 2:00 until 5:00.At 6:30 the evening prayer begins. Dinner follows the prayer, with conversation. At 8:00 the grand silencio begins, a time for personal meditation and rest.