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‘ f u c k       d e a t h

- w a i t ‘
 – Maria Arzt

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

The Sacrifice, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986

“All waiting is waiting for death.” – Franz Werfel¹

Every day

carried by rhythms, sometimes a noticeable thudding on rails that separate and converge on their orbits. During the ride we may be catching up on work, on replies or just wait. A looping background noise to [ everyone ] having their time and place to be in a circuit, our possible encounters are highly structured within. Threads map out a net, a social matrix reproducing itself every day and carries on the circulations.

Upon arriving we may find ourselves waiting again, in lines or spaces, optionally equipped with screens proclaiming some new catastrophe.

“The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the “emergency situation” in which we live is the rule. We must arrive at a concept of history which corresponds to this.” – Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History ²

Other screens soon redirect our attention, reminding us of upcoming tasks, repetitive and hopefully leading us somewhere.

This kind of living can be captured in a feeling of waiting for life to arrive. If so, what are we waiting for in particular?

A new number to be picked as climate emergency threshold?

Our work shift to end?

The new episode to air?

The end of history? (This time for real)

Waiting can be an occasion to de-accelerate and a space holding multiplicities. Often, waiting is imposed on us and that’s when we feel our lack of immediate agency, bumping against a limit or intersection.

Some people have the habit to walk around while waiting – in circles when in a limited space. Is living a world of circuits then limited, no matter how extensive they are? Being carried along – time spent in wait one of dead time? Or are claims like these a case of theory getting stuck in itself, alienated from lived experience?

“Capitalism is a death cult” is not only a catchy slogan, but points towards a politics of death operating as infrastructure in reproducing forms of life, death and temporality. It manifests in the ways that death comes up: as images of death, as spectacle” a negation of life”³ (13), and as necropolitics .

Assuming that it’s death that sets time, that is, our time and [ our times ] in relation to it, makes sense, it works – but working with linear time in relation to death as a fixed limit. It’s reproducing a certain, recursive form of temporality that there are different notions to – alterities we can listen to while in the Waiting Room – attempting to un-coil circularity, tracing a way out, towards different times, possibly.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

“Jouir sans temp morts – Vivre sans entraves – mai (mars) 2018 ♡” / “Playing without dead times – Living without restraints may (march) 2018 ♡”

“Vivre sans temps mort – Jouir sans entraves/ “Living without dead times – Playing without restraints”, May68 slogan

Debord´s little history of temporalities in Society of the Spectacle starts thus: In cyclical time of prehistoric peasantry and nomadic societies live in “idle and contentless freedom”³ (127) – time is recurrent and rhythmic, not yet directed by notions of progress. The servile classes don’t have the agency over the conditions or the time of their lives (being set in chronicled “linear time” that only the ruling class had access to), sometimes contesting it in uprisings. Monotheistic religion staves off the hope for better times, placing it in a transcendence – the time of Waiting has come as a repressive messianism.

As the bourgeoisie which “recognizes no value that does not stem from the exploitation of labor”³ (140) rises as new ruling class a new temporal regime is established. “The time of production” and advent of modernity “is an infinite accumulation of equivalent intervals” and claims universality over temporality and history³ (147).

Cyclical time is repressed and retrieved as commodity – pseudo-cyclical time is consumable free time that mimics pre-industrial cyclicality and workers, having successfully struggled for excess time between labour and sleep, can now have a spectacular time – its’ postmodern version. People awaiting weekends and periodic vacations indefinitely until retirement – what sounds bleak applies to most of [ us ] and yet it doesn’t mean [ we ] are incapable of creativity and connection, independent of the consumption of images. However, it may not keep us from partaking in the production of images, as the recuperative logic of the spectacle supposedly spreads it over everything, not yet within, digesting and commodifying difference.

A grim vision. One might ask “Who will come and save us from the Spectacle?”

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

“Cuckoo Clock's Collection”, youtube user T & N - clocks and watches

The figure of the Messiah is commonly evoked as luminous, singular, male. Simply negating being in Wait for Him (:the Revolutionary Subject: the Revolutionary Moment ) does not resolve the spatio-temporal conditions for this imagery.

In “Revolutionary Time” Fanny Söderbäck proposes a different, gendered notion of temporality and its’ development: linear time can only exist on the grounds of circular time that it produces as its base.

She outlines it, departing from the argument that, [women*] have been identified with nature and being subjected in domestic and reproductive labour, held “imprisoned in repetition and immanence” ( 30). The continuous re-making of life and care is culturally repressed as a mute pre-condition and the respective temporality – circular time – conceived as a spatiality “from which he can thrust himself forward” into linear time, that is, progress and history.

Relying on Luce Irigaray’s Culture of the Same (33), the base conceptions for spatiality, temporality and personhood are radically reframed. This gives way to an argument that sounds recursive because it hits home, exposing (western) patriarchy’s self-referentiality: introducing a notion of natural reproduction as a non-creative repetition -

Not labour, just maintenance, a natural, unchanging rhythm that [women*[ just need — to—tune—in—to being content to live out their inborn need to care – if the case is well-adjusted, that is –

being reproduced to serve as “a ground” (33) for male rationality and its cultural accomplishments, including scientific and imperialist progress(ion), meant to further solidify and spread the project.

– if the case is well-adjusted, that is – she has a natural feeling for feminine grace and humility, and should be able to live off the propensity that men enabled

Later into (post-)modernity and up the mortality-rate of men, women* are invited into the work force. Distinguishing themselves through labour – no longer just reproductive, although genuinely repetitive – is now an option for some, granting them access to linear time in career paths, we[they can schedule alongside homemaking, overqualified workers that we[they are.

– if the case is well-adjusted, that is –she knows the ideal woman is a male-made self

It’s thus unsurprising that Söderbäck finds both feminisms, based either on the re-claiming of traditionally feminized positions or on a claim to `girlboss´-hood through economic empowerment, to be lacking. While these are important partial successes, necessary to facilitate women* making a living, a whole notion of emancipation cannot be built on goals, based in modern male rationality. It’s unable to bring about the changing of times that Söderbäck points to and the conflict between possibilism and possibility comes to surface here.

In the analysis she offers, the sharp rendering of these conceptions enables us to make them out and turn them down – saying “No, that’s not me! These are not my words.

The awareness of this difference, within the times of not-yet – may feel muting but lead, ultimately to the recovery of a voice.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

The Sacrifice, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986

The pattern of oppression on grounds of temporality, applies not only to women* but all Othered – Söderbäck speaks of a colonial-patriarchal temporal regime (see Söderbäck, 54; 33¹).

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

The Sacrifice, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986

Everday time and space “occupied”?

Negativity can clear the space, making room for possibility, that is, as an operation, cautious of cutting off roots and ties in attempting to construct a coherent theory. While the modern colonial project claimed universality, its important critique itself doesn’t delve into universal language.

“Man, the negative being who is solely to the extent that he suppresses being, is identical with time.”³ (125) Debord writes and not only naturalizes cyclical time as uterine and pre-historic³ (127) but affirms this suppression by speaking it in absolute terms. Announcing other temporalities (and for that matter, worlds⁶ ) extinct, this negativity functions as an exposition of the spectacle posing as life but also as a negation of alterities that it cannot imagine – burying what may be still very much alive.

Debord goes as far in his assertions as calling everyday life “a colonized sector”.

“Colonized by what” might be a redundant question to raise (“the Spectacle!”) but “By whom?”

“The colonisers were themselves colonised: at home, in their own lives[..]” he finds “important to understand” in his 1966 text on the Congo. Regarding a eurocentrism of the Situationist International, their long-lasting links to the Algerian and Congolese anti-colonial movements, have been pointed out ¹. Yet, sternly rejecting ¹¹ anything deemed a nationalism or a partaking in the economic arms race with the West, Debord disregarded that different threats to life lead to differences in strategy and the SI may have failed in resolving the many divergencies at hand in collaboration for similar reasons. Their plans for an internationalist revolution were disappointed and drew the imagery of Revolution as operations, soon to be realized – not as a huge undertaking, marked by fragmentation and delay. This may be a feeble observation to make, looking back from Our Times, but Walter Benjamin had already brought up “the classless society ” in similar terms:

“not the final goal of the progress of history, but its frequently miscarried, ultimately achieved interruption” ¹² [52 (1.3/ 1231)].

Though Debord had trouble imagining alterity and resistance to the spectacle within colonized communities, it seems like it was an easy choice to refer to the reign of images “colonizing [..] life”³ (42) – a wording he repeats, evoking invasiveness and severity. Confronting the spectacle as a “negation of life”³ (117), termed a death towards qualitative living and not seeing it as connected to the literal death, the mass eradication of lives, during colonialism, the blind spot is glaring. He calls to save life in purely negative terms, with the only positive countermeasure being the project of the Situationists themselves (the elusive and undocumented practise of constructing situations) not seeing the vast and ongoing loss of lived-in-worlds and othered ways of perceiving of colonized people as a crucial part (if not base) of that “suppressed qualitative richness”³ (133).

Any attempts to retain qualitative living fall back on themselves when forgetting its connection to physical dying that takes place continuously.

– some cases gradually, some very fast, some ways tangible up very close and some only in quantities and probabilities. These numbers may sound remote but show more than the images in the news: patterns. We can investigate them, zooming in on details like intricacies of a blood test, but will at some point realize: it’s us who are in there. Dying is an intimate reality to deal with but there’s nothing obscure about how it’s counted on and counted with. Anticipated and surveyed, people die. It has little to do with chance: if the probability rises high enough over an area – a piece of data landscape ² you are currently on – you will die, or someone else nearby will. And if the probability is dangerously low, you can bet it’s structurally connected to high numbers elsewhere.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Teorema, dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968

Death-Making making life

“The ultimate expression of sovereignty, the power and capacity to dictate who may live and who must die” is what Achille Mbembe calls necropolitics .

He follows up on Michel Foucault’s notion of biopower (71), which arrives with modernity – power, foregoing controlling individuals-as-bodies, for governing over life itself – its organic and biochemical processes. This governing takes place not in a punitive manner of administering death but administers life by domination of its growth and forms, summarized in the paradigm: ´Make live and let die´ – Violence taking the form of organized neglect.

The letting die of refugees, in the implementation of the European migratory policy,is a historical continuation of colonization – its militarized borders the frontiers of past European supremacy¹³.Decline and approaching ruin may feel like moods of Our Times but, as Mbembe notes, “for a large share of humanity, the end of the world has already occurred” (29).

Moreover, the imagery of wandering a desert may haunt many of [ us ] but for [ some ], it’s material: a desert seen and remembered. It’s an image of death that is never total¹. How does this horizon of death place us as subjects of these times?

People die differently. Subjects, situated differently in relation to death and within the spatio-temporal matrix, have different relations to and experiences of time.

Waiting is often imposed on us, and differently so. It can be violent, a form of neglect. For those whose residence status is uncertain it can feel like a sort of limbo-

-always a guest, staring at a cup waiting for the drink to go cold, --

People deprived of the right to work are locked out of the time-space that citizens have access to. Subalternity is reinforced through temporal means as the same old song ..

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

online self-assessment “Verbales Schlussfolgern” / „Verbal Reasoning“

The water is flowing precisely when the engine roars and the ground declines.

The engine is roaring precisely when the propellor moves.

The water is not flowing.

Something about physical death invites stillness –

Stopping our productive activities and waiting feels appropriate, like an acknowledgement. Customs like minutes of silence point to that but probably most have witnessed to this, something lingering that is best waited out – for the only appropriate response to death may be Nothing.

As Death invites Waiting, it is not far from matters leading up to it.

In wait we feel our dependencies – for example on resources, when our access to them hits restrictions. Feeling it concretely, annoyingly, the dependency may come up to be investigated revealing supply chains and global relations – threads in tensions that indicate weight(y) distributions. They can sometimes rip. When access to basic resources is unstable, everyday time feels different – like a circle that keeps revolving but lagging or swinging back – a daily plot repeatedly interrupted. People then may try to outrun the reset, bound to compress complexity, or on the opposite shutting down their activity to minimum – impassive as on a hot summer day, staring into space waiting for the breeze of the swinging fan to come back round.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Pictured: schedule of „electricity times” throughout some regions in Ukraine (clustered as “sectors”) in november 2022

веерные отключения (lit. “fanning blackouts “) / “rolling blackouts” are deliberate and controlled power cuts, moving on regionally, according to schedule, often to handle electricity-shortages. In the case of Ukraine, they are conducted on the regular since the beginning of the full-scale in 2022 (to tend to damaged infrastructure or for safety tests) but some people are familiar with them from the 90ties when corruption and economic ruin set those times.

Subjected to this kind of structured lack, sometimes there is nothing we can do.

Being aware of this, or even within, doesn’t absolve us of the question around subjectivity and agency – “What am I doing?” related to the “What is to be done?” in times that are proclaimed to be running out.

Some notions of activism aim to mobilize people based on the awareness of an urgency, what really counts, and therefore how to best spend one’s time.

This approach relies not only on linear time but also on death as a fixed limit. In driving towards it one is only ever able to ration one’s time, investing it as well as possible, or to detour in complex swirls.

Why not turn to other visions then? Death as miscarriage of a life, not given but continuously made, points to violent interruptions but also to a possible arrest of the reproduction of the same, of life negated in spectacle. Instead of death falling down and cutting off our movement at some point one could also imagine our living and our dying as parallel, continuous streams. Arguably, there are areas of contact with death – in transgression or simply in meaningful transmissions, that keep resonating – we/one may just need to watch, read or listen.

So, what if we don’t spend time for a moment – and wait – sounding out the possibilities that might echo back?

Temporal Alterity and Agency

– A project that was “exploring its’ possibilities as a physical space to hold, connect or superimpose different urgencies, priorities and frames of reference.” – during a residency at thealit -.Frauen.Kultur.Labor, february 2023

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Audio, 09:30 min. + Image recorded at ZOB Bremen, 07.02.2023

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Making tensions, workshop, 08.02.2023

Speaking of circularity – a circle can be turned around to reveal a coil. You might have noticed built-in ones in bicycle dynamos, inside mattresses, in pens. What do they store? We folded some by hand and you can as well, needing wire (medium plasticity), time, pliers (optional).

Hold the wire in your hand – the weaker one – your tool in the other – the one you usually write with. Grab the wire with your tool /fingers and shape it in a revolving, not necessarily round, motion. Go winding by winding. While you’re at it, these could be resonating:

“Is this repetitive?”

“Where do tensions/pressures move to within parts of the setup (wire – before the coiling, tool, body, wire -after)?”

“Is there a point in doing this?”

“Is there a line in doing this?”

“I am making ______ here.”

“I am doing ______ here.”

“What do I orient myself by in making – an image? A shape? A feeling? A use-value?”

“Where is my time and energy going?”

You stop when you decide to.

I have heard that “it’s in waiting that we most feel time.” I would rather say that it’s where we can feel or time in time – our temporality. We then can take hold of it and attempt to trace /shape it. “Taking hold” of something as abstract might not sound possible, but maybe it is – a possibility, in a making that shapes already in tracing a movement.

Who our time belongs to is questionable, but our temporalities are ours, if experienced consciously and habitually. If not, we can still try exercises in re-making. Recovering temporal agency is possible qualitatively, in how we experience our timeliness within the dominant temporal regime, re-relating differently.

Re-imaginings can also leave possible pathways for alterity. Fanny Söderbäck brings up the imagery of waves (see 61f.) and we can apply it to picture the infrastructure of the everyday – not with rails but ripples in water – indeed showing us something different: disruptions, radiating outwards in a rhythm co-constitutive in its intersections.

Where we might not share a time-space with someone we can still encounter traces. Interrupted in our movements where we cross others´, we may take the delay as an occasion for recognizing difference – maybe that commuter is so pushy because of urgent issues we know nothing of? We might as well go out of our way to make them pass. An ethics of care can help a lot, where it’s not expected to fix something and waiting for someone can also be an act of caring.

Likewise, interrupting or slowing down our contribution to a movement can be a gesture of resistance, albeit a friendly one (we are still talking about waves in a puddle).

Interrupted “revolutionary time”

Interventions in care and fluidity can help us re-access a liveliness in our everyday but change requires more.

The “revolution” in Söderbäck’s revolutionary time, is meant in a literal sense: a re-turning movement – it enables change as the departure from of self-same circularity, being genuinely creative. Preferring “waves” over “generations” in speaking of feminist genealogies, she implies the necessaries for this – embodied experience of time and a notion of nature opposed to Modern Mans conception of steady mothers and earth. Adapting to ever-changing circumstance, shuffling combinations in reproduction and spontaneous mutations, in fact, any repetition in nature needs to repeat differently to stay alive.

Change relies on this return to the body. Another repetition in difference is the work of remembering. Söderbäck reaches out to Julia Kristeva ² to lay out how the reproduction of sameness is the neurotic repetition of a repressed memory on a cultural level and can only be arrested and “repeated in a way that is fundamentally modified” after it has been remembered and worked through[ see (77)] – this requires wandering through the semiotic, the place where “bodily drives and affect make their way into language” [Kristeva,quoted in (89)].

A past, obfuscated by a culture repressing its base in the annexation of Otherness, is not yet remembered, just as a future in difference is a not-yet – a possibility.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Teorema, dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968

“Anticipation is imperative.” - Helene Cixous, the Laugh of Medusa, quoted (79)

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Source unknown

“I will not be sued! I have the voice of an angel!”

Maria Callas had proclaimed after a performance of Madame Butterfly in Chicago, 1955, upon being served documents by a lawsuit agent.

Resistance, in psychoanalysis, refers to all efforts directed against suppressed memories coming up – reactionary in logic and pathological from a certain degree, when reality is warped too much by it. Resistance, literally, means to “stand against”, “withstand” and “withhold” something otherwise moving on, evoking protection from being harmed or infiltrated, as well as anti-fascist struggle (“Résistance” during WW2).

Within an established making-impossible of what is necessary to recover a future possible to imagine (to bear while being realistic), it may be necessary to be it, having demanded the Impossible long enough.

Being impossible, may look like negating realities and rules at hand through persistent denial (if the resistance is strong enough, that is) or like being impossible to argue/work/compromise/... with.

Strategic or pathological – who will be able to tell and who decides when the rules applied to legitimize claims of im/possibility are empty frames fabricated by power?

After all, would we call propaganda that straight-up denies or fabricates facts, “psychotic”?

Arriving Tomorrow – Messianism and history

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Angelus Novus, Paul Klee, 1920 Aquarell Drawing, Original currently located in: Israel-Museum, Jerusalem

“His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise[..] – Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Concept of History ²

In his last movie the Sacrifice Andrei Tarkovsky confronts his characters with the end of times as a total nuclear war, announced in an ominous TV broadcast. The protagonist reacts to the news by retreating into himself and uttering that it is now that he knows he had been waiting all his life for precisely this moment.

Having already anticipated death, he still recoils by its approach and a possibility for resetting the plot arises: Saving All through sacrificing his own (social life), “all he has”, as muttered in a what is possibly a bargain with God.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Teorema, dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968

In Teorema, housemaid Emilia – whom director Pier Paolo Pasolini himself describes as a “mad saint[..] carrying her suitcase like an infanticide” ² – is the only character not ruined (social death) by her encounter with the Divine (seduction by the mysterious Visitor) but becomes what may be the closest thing to a messiah within this story about impossibility. Burying herself alive, she forms a fountain of tears – but being on the grounds of a construction site she’s probably about to be flattened by trucks expanding the cityscape. This, however, is beside the point: “Do not worry – I'd not come here to die but to weep”, she says.

The arrival of the Messiah, as referred to in Christian theology and commonly envisioned, is always already past or indefinitely awaited. A complete, bettered being – absolved from loss and time – that space containing hope, separated from our life-times.

Walter Benjamin introduces a different Messiah – one that will never arrive, except as the Messianic, hosted in singular moments. The “weak Messianic power” he speaks of, is not based in a sacrificial logic and points to another kind of redemption as possibility that places both life and death within our life-times.

“The past carries with it a temporal index by which it is referred to redemption. There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one. Our coming was expected on earth. Like every generation that preceded us, we have been endowed with a weak Messianic power, a power to which the past has a claim. That claim cannot be settled cheaply.” – Walter Benjamin, On the Concept of History ²

In fact, it is our birth that has been anticipated and we are even endowed with the power of the Messianic – though it is a weak power, and the past has a claim to it. Though, not just the past, but the past of the possible, that is, the not-yet realized¹(39) life and happiness of the historically oppressed, those weakened by violence – a “hidden index”² of continuously interrupted projects that we may take up now that it may be possible, differently.

It’s only the not-yet that is possible and what is possible is also that, which can still fail.

Is it a good idea to orient oneself by that which has already failed? How can we know if it´s possible this time around? Well, we can´t. And this riskiness is precisely what makes it that – a possibility, endowed with a toning force, felt in all unlikely events.

The Messianic is thus a fragile power and hard to grasp, as it is suppressed by dominant narrative – and in continued danger of being missed.²³

The mass of graves of those buried untimely are hardly an appropriate ground for some flowery inspiration, so what does this entail precisely? Maybe the work of remembering and recovering should be taken on more seriously and not only by professionals, having a claim over archives?

For the weak Messianic to have another chance it first needs to be recognized. This takes place in the Now of Recognizability, in which “[..] the present is not the time-form of waiting for a better or simply different future, not the state of waiting that preceded the state of redemption, but the standstill where one no longer waits.”¹ (53, own italization)

Having been heard, the call falls silent. Moments can resonate in recognition to mutually constitute each other in re-membering and re-presenting – echoes as strands reaching over time and space.

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Five exercises in space and time,Daria Getmanova 2022, in Mariupol Memory Park: a Displaced Library

How do we not misrecognize the weak Messianic power among all that resonates with us? By looking for it as encounter: Do we hear anything resonate at all? Is there an Other? – or just echoes of our own ((losses), filling the empty time of the not-actualized with) images of the wished-for?

Feeling that we are, in fact, extending beyond ourselves – we feel threads tugging and pressuring – dependencies and indebtedness to past efforts and hopes - How are we then not to misunderstand what we hear? Is it to be taken literal or actualized, reversed? What exactly is it pointing to?

This we might have to sit with – in the Waiting Room, tracing ways out, that are not only found in emergency exits, as all signs point outside themselves.

Pointing outside towards something impossible may seem like a joke and indeed, sometimes we may need to stay taking games seriously again. For it’s not just our qualitative lives that are at stake if we remain within the reproduced shape of the TooLate – we may also miss our being called and the claims of the historically and presently oppressed are forfeited. For them to not fall on dead ears it may not be a profoundly serious attitude that’s necessary but a certain wakefulness.

“[..]the event is precisely that which nobody can foresee, measure, or calculate with accuracy. This being so, “humankind’s specificity” is to be in a constant state of wakefulness, disposed to welcoming the unknown and to embracing the unexpected, since surprise lies at the origin of the procedures of enchantment without which the world is not a world.” (40)

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Photo: Gérard Aimé, Mai 68 Les Murs Ont La Parole

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Recuperation is a strong reactionary tool that does weaken and instils distrust, – people may abandon present struggles for nostalgia or not reach out to others, who, while oppressed and resistant don´t have the right language or aesthetics, not recognizing them as possible kin, in difference.

But there’s more danger ahead for the Messianic power: being misrecognized and mis-represented in images¹ that contain nothing outside themselves and are thus dead. Recuperation, that flattened the situationists themselves, commodifies “revolution” as quality and experience.

The messianic power can only be realized in a singular possibility, open-ended moments that have yet to be created as “There is no form of happiness. The domain of forms belongs to the realm of domination, where permanence of forms can only be secured through the suppression of other possibilities” ¹(47).

What is necessary to refrain from reproducing the same forms and images is experimentation, however it may not need a whole theory built around it and less so, something extraordinary ¹ to happen. It’s in boredom we can anticipate difference, for “we are bored when we don’t know what we are waiting for.” ¹² (Benjamin, Walter)quoted in¹(166).

Welcoming the unknown

Boredom and dust. Dream – a coat one cannot turn.” - Walter Benjamin, the Arcades Project

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

Cuckoo Clock's Collection, youtube user T & N - clocks and watches

Tracing “ the ‘fabric’ – one side of which is grey, the other lustrous, two sides holding a threshold in place [..] for Benjamin ‘we’ sleep wrapped in this blanket. The sleeper appears ‘bored’. On awakening the sleeper wishes to communicate the dream and yet all that is narrated is this boredom.” ¹ (167) – overcoming of boredom not through consuming the stimuli of “the new [that]” Monotony feeds on” [Benjamin, Walter quoted in ¹⁵(165)] but in receptivity and creation can make way to a different situation.

Waiting is often imposed on us and it´s where we feel our dependencies. We also feel our indebtedness and connection to others there – separated temporally, spatially and by function within the capitalist matrix – we are still there, in waiting, multiple.

(A)waiting is a site of multiplicity and spaces designated for waiting themselves hold multiplicities. Think of a central bus stop: the people gathering are not a uniform mass but have different departures, destinations, media they consume meanwhile, languages they speak overlapping, phone noises, traffic, the compressed noise of voices contained in a building at the back,… [ While ] waiting,… each is at the same time [ there ] and already [on the way ]. The drive as a threshold to different places, can feel like a gateway, a door, if you fall asleep and wake up only upon arriving. Each is experiencing the situation as a mass individual – mass, not uniform but nondivisible in difference, a collectivity withindistraction in a rhythm of synchronized of dissonances, glances dancing about in avoidance – you know the song...

Perceiving as mass individuals, way more than we are distinctively aware of, maybe more than we can contain in [ ourselves ], distraction is necessary. Looking down at our screens, sometimes catching a glimpse of what another is seeing on theirs, involuntarily, in reflections...

We have in fact only two certainties in this world—that weare not everything and that we will die.“ Georges Bataille, Inner Experience ²¹

While one may hear that boredom is a luxury, waiting is not.

Within an embodied experience of time, one we can take hold of and arguably shape, Waiting is ambivalent – a doing while being in wait and a waiting in awareness of it being an intermediate space, a possible becoming and encounter – it can be a threshold: a membrane where we feel our limits or a wall that can transmit messages (though, they may be encoded differently from our daytime language) and cut open circularity, arresting it. Temporality then spreads out as a ground for possible different horizons.

What to do, then, on these horizons should not be bothering us too much, for we are still here, in Waiting, together. What to do with this time? Maybe the dead have an idea…

Eisenbricht: ‘ f u c k d e a t h  - w a i t ‘
-  Maria Arzt

From Our Death, Sean Bonney, 2018²²

(” ǝɿom γИɒ ǝ⅃diƨƨoq ƨi ϱИiʜɈoИ“)


Maria Arzt (she/they) is an artist with a background in care work and social science. Maria is currently working with language, space, object, and co-runs the project space Circa 106 in Bremen, where she also studies Fine Arts at the University of the Arts.


¹ Werfel, Franz, 1975 (1946): Theologumena, In: Ders.: Zwischen Oben und Unten. Prosa, Tagebücher, Aphorismen, Literarische Nachträge. München: Langen – Müller.

² Benjamin, Walter, 2005 (1940): Über den Begriff der Geschichte, In: Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974; Translation by Dennis Redmond: On the Concept of History; Transcribed by Andy Blunden, CopyLeft translation used with permission, Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)

Accessed over, last viewed: 12.09.2023, 18:50.

Quotations don't include pages numbers, as the online version of the text doesn’t.

³ Debord, Guy, 2014 (1967): La societé du spectacle, originally published in Paris by Éditions Buchet-Chastel; Translated and annotated by Ken Knabb: The Society of the Spectacle, Bureau of Public Secrets, not copyrighted.

⁴ Mbembe, Achille, 2019 (2016): Politiques de l’inimitié, originally published by Editions La Découverte; Translated by Steven Corcoran: Necropolitics, Durham and London, Duke University Press.

Söderbäck, Fanny, 2019: Revolutionary Time - On Time and Difference in Kristeva and Irigaray, Albany, United States of America, State University of New York Press.

Anm.: “With the development of capitalism, irreversible time has become globally unified. Universal history becomes a reality because the entire world is brought under the sway of this time's development. This unified irreversible time is the time of the global market, and thus also the time of the global spectacle.” ³ (146)

The repeated claims to omnipresence of the spectacle read strangely being written in 1967, when global capitalism (the “Empire” Negri and Hardt write about by 2000) hadn't even set in yet. Much could be discussed concerning questions if “socialist” states are a subtype of modern capitalist states and at what point spectacle-production sets in but I stand by the observation that the totality this critique claims is limiting.

Debord, Guy, 1961: Perspectives for Conscious Alterations in Everyday Life; In: Internationale Situationniste #6

Dolto, Sophie and Sidi Moussa, Nedjib: The Situationists’ Anti-colonialism: An Internationalist Perspective, In: The Situationist International – a Critical Handbook, Editors: Hemmens, Alastair and Zacarias, Gabriel, 2020,Pluto Press

¹ Anm.: Moreover: 1 Mohamed Dahou having been an active member of the Lettrist International ( a precursor of the SI reforming after 1958), has arguable coined the term psychogeography. 2 “Michèle Bernstein (then married to Debord)[..]signing the ‘Declaration on the Right to Insubordination in the War in Algeria’, and Debord showed that it was crucial to support resolutely Algerian insurgents and imprisoned French anti-colonialists[..]” 3 “Recalling the avant-garde origins of the group, two texts focus attention on the ‘poetry’ of the Congolese revolution, arguing that ‘realizing poetry means nothing less than simultaneously and inseparably creating events and their language’. Although Emmanuelle Chérel also mentions the presence of the Congolese Joseph M’Belolo M’Piko, who is said to have written a revolutionary chant in 1968, only appears on the official SI members list, in its French section until 1967. Lungela probably took part in Debord’s project to gather ‘direct information’ and ‘make a pamphlet about the civil war in the Congo’,26 which eventually became the 1966 text ‘Conditions of the Congolese Revolutionary Movement’”. (109)

¹¹ This reads as particularly defensive to any notion of ethical European accountability:

“According to Debord, ‘this is why those whites who want to escape their own servitude must needs rally to the black cause’. But he adds ‘not in a solidarity based on color, obviously, but in a global rejection of commodities and, in the last analysis, of the state[..].” (113)

Moreover:“As the case of Algeria suggests, the question that lies at the heart of the SI’s work on anti colonisation is whether the emancipation of these countries could trigger, or at least coincide with, an internationalist revolution.”⁸(108).

¹² Benjamin, Walter, Gesammelte Schriften, Editor: Tiedemann, Rolf and Schweppenhäuser, Hermann, Frankfurt a. Main, Suhrkamp 1974 (1.3/ 1231); In: ¹ Hamacher, Werner, 2005 (2001): “Now”: Walter Benjamin on Historical Time, In: Editor: Benjamin, Andrew, 2005: Walter Benjamin and History (52).

¹³ Anm.: “The technological transformation of borders is in full swing. Physical and virtual barriers of separation, digitalization of databases, filing systems, the development of new tracking devices, sensors, drones, satellites and sentinel robots, infrared detectors and various other cameras, biometric controls, and new microchips containing personal details, everything is put in place to transform the very nature of the border phenomenon and to speed up the implementation of this new type of border—one that is mobile, portable, and omnipresent.” (101).

¹ Anm.:“There is no global future.” Anonymous, 2011, Desert

¹ Hamacher, Werner, 2005 (2001): “Now”: Walter Benjamin on Historical Time, In: Editor: Benjamin, Andrew, 2005: Walter Benjamin and History (52).

¹Anm.: The interruption of the future as always-same therefore relies on ambivalence and is claimed to not only be possible within but also through means of mass culture¹(163). Therefore there´s no point in a professionalized dissidence as, according to Andrew Benjamin, on the contrary it is “Subjectivity’s incorporation in to the ‘there is’ [that] gives to the subject a capacity for action. It is however not the action of a hero, but the cunning of the mass individual”¹(170).

¹ Anm.: Söderbäck also point to how:

“Fanon brilliantly describes the predicament of the Black man vis-à-vis his white oppressor in similar terms: if the “present always serves to build the future,”14 he notes, we should not forget that certain subjects—such as colonized and racialized people—have been reduced to immanence and presence in the service of building the future for those who have laid claim to transcendence and freedom—their white colonizers.” (33)

¹ Anm.: There's certainly representatives of both sides (pathological and tactical impossibles) looking quite similar, just as there's also far-right movements being vocal about denying the bases if democratic society. For example the “souvereign citizens”/"Reichbürger", who deny the existence of the German state, printing their own ID cards and attempting a coup on the German parlament in decemer 2022.

¹ Anm.: To stay without images for a better future ( also an afternoon activity, a goals to one´s many tiresome routine activities ) yet aware of it´s possibility is to be in hold, hoping, stupidly, without a reason to. Also it is to be anticipating without an entertainment, “the new [that]” Monotony feeds on” [Benjamin, Walter quoted in ¹(165)] often: bored.

² Anm: Achille Mbembe notes:

“[…] a new technical system of increased automation—one that is increasingly complex yet also increasingly abstract, composed of multiple screens: digital, algorithmic, even mystical. The world has ceased to present itself to us in the old terms/ways. We are witnessing the birth of a previously unseen form of the human subject object relationship, as well as the emergence of new ways of conceiving space.” (102)

²¹ Bataille, Georges, 1943 L'expérience intérieure, Éditions Gallimard; English Translation, 1988, Inner Experience, State University of New York Press (page 33)

²² Bonney, Sean, 2018, Our Death, Oakland, California, Commune Editions

²³ Anm.: Hamacher elaborates on more points, that informed my understanding of Benjamin’s weak Messian power:

1 “the subject of history cannot be mankind, but only a class, that is, the class of the oppressed, of those deprived of their rights and of the exploited (even if they exploit themselves); and history cannot be an automatic process in an already constituted form of time, but can alone be that movement whose form is not set in advance, i.e. not directed towards pregiven goals but rather a movement that is in principle open to unforseeable realizations.”¹(63)

2 “then this is not straightforwardly Judaeo-Christian theology, but rather a theology of the missed or the distorted – hunchbacked – possibilities, a theology of missed, distorted or hunchbacked time. Each possibility that was missed in the past remains a possibility for the future, precisely because it has not found fulfilment. For the past to have a future merely means that the ‘Now’: Walter Benjamin and Historical Time past’s possibilities have not yet found their fulfilment, that they continue to have an effect as intentions and demand their realization from those who feel addressed by them. When past things survive, then it is not lived-out (abgelebte) facts that survive, facts that could be recorded as positive objects of knowledge; rather what survives are the unactualized possibilities of that which is past. There is historical time only in so far as there is an excess of the unactualized, the unfinished, failed, thwarted, which leaps beyond its particular Now and demands from another Now its settlement, correction and fulfilment.”¹(40f)

²Anm.: Both for Irigaray “Our hope for the future, and our chances of living in a present no longer marked by mirror symmetry depends on a “memory of the past.” (Revolutionary Time p.54) and Kristeva “Only as embodied beings do we have time. It is through the body that transcendence—understood here as a horizon of possibility for futurity, not as a flight into a metaphysical and disembodied beyond—is possible.” (Revolutionary Time p. 94)

these critiques hold an intrinsic temporal quality and are tied to a hope for a differing of future.


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