Education and the Public Sphere/The Nomadic Hive

The Teach-In.
This space is ours. It belongs to us. On the evening of December 9th 2010 we attempted an occupation of this space. Room 43 of the National Gallery overlooked by Manet's "Execution of Maximilian".  We are a multitude of artists, students and lecturers. This space is public, it is ours, it belongs to us. This education is ours, it is public, it is free. We are sitting down aggravating this space because it is public space under the eyes of a political betrayal and abandonment. Look at the situation we are now all witnesses to. It has been creeping for the last 15 years. The state of our education system is changing. We are no longer in the grasp of free further education whose implications are for the greater public good, but capitalist education, education with a price tag that works towards economic gain. In other words, we are not expected to attend university to become educated and to educate, we are to attend university for private economic gain - university is treated as a savings investment. Else it is an elitist commodity. From now on the educated will sell themselves in the marketplace to other individuals who will have to sell themselves in the marketplace in order to feed back into this circle. To earn. To pay off debts. To become trapped in an economic sphere. To feed into a failing democracy that keeps letting the people down. To live, publicly.  To die having taken nothing. We are not commodities, we are human beings. And if they believe that we are truly the future of this country, and if they truly believe that education will bring financial gain to this country, then they would invest in us. And on Thursday 9th December 2010 this sad future is cemented by 323 MPs, twenty more than opposed this bleak future. Education is no longer a social good, it is a private gain - a commodity.

The Occupation of The National Gallery.
This space is brought to you in conjunction with Shell, Hewlett Packard, Santander, and, of course, Sainsbury's (not to mention many others). We sit here in the hope that our institutions will not become Goldsmiths McNuggets of London, or the Royal Wallmart of Art (and so on). We sit and as a multitude discuss, as a consensus decide. We wave our hands in a jazz like fashion to show our enthusiastic agreement, and together, as a solidarity, aim to resolve the doubts of the minority. It's a long process. One in which you question what it is you actually believe. What it is we are all doing occupying this space. This space whose workers also face cuts, redundancies and job losses that will not be replaced. (I bet they're glad they didn't have to invest in their education, or perhaps some of them did).  In here we are blind. What is happening outside? In the streets are violent confrontations as the news of a betrayal hits them. Here we are undeterred, we will remain. Our fight continues. And what a perfect time to form a manifesto. A Nomadic Hive, something to fathom out future actions. I organize my thoughts on paper and speak my case.
"Reaction. Reclamation of public space. Our space seems to be becoming more and more of a commodity, we need to take it back. This whole situation is a complete symptom of capitalism."
Hands wave at me, I have been agreed with on mass. More than this should have been said, these public spaces which are overcome by the public spectacle of consumer items, this is where a our reaction needs to take place. A representation of our beliefs. A public freedom of education. Lectures in the open. Spontaneity is encouraged.

The Spectacle.
This space is our space, this space is a prison. They are kettled in by the enforcing arm of the law. Delegation of power to control the masses - or, do whatever it takes to make these people do as we say. We, the Nomads, are overcome by solidarity. Group mentality. No matter how uncomfortable the minority within the group feel about the increasing numbers of riot police outside the gallery in Trafalgar Square, there is a sort of peer pressure to remain. What was going on outside? Here we have a power in numbers - our number amounts to one. If we leave together we are a force, if we leave alone, there is the possibility of being detained. We have rights, we can refuse to give our names - if you don't wish to become a number...
Our spectacle is something that seems fairly low key. We are asked to text everyone we know to let them know that we are occupying this space and we are not leaving until we have written a manifesto. For what good is an artistic representation if no public gaze meets it? The spectacle needs the spectator. That is what causes a reaction. That is what causes people to move. That is when solitude becomes a unity. That is when the singular wraps its arms around a universality. What is happening outside. Word enters the Hive there are riot police on the balcony.

The Escape.
This space has become hostile. It is still ours but there is external pressure. How have things deteriorated outside? Solicitors pass out advise. Don't give them your name. Power in the buzzing of our hive. We have points on our manifesto. I can assess the seriousness of the police situation based on how many grown ups remain in the room. But my friend is uncomfortable, she has previous with the traffic police and wants out. I'm split then. I want to see this thing through, it seems to be rounding up. We are best to leave as a majority - power in numbers, our number is one. My solidarity with my friend takes priority. I don't wish to force her to stay somewhere she feels uncomfortable. How many police are outside now? It maybe too late either way. At this point a figure head type women steps forward and offers a solution. A way out through a side exit which evades the police. After all, though the workers here seem pissed off and inconvenienced, no one has formally asked us to leave; after all, this is a public gallery, they are workers for this public space, our space, the space in which we occupy. It is the word 'Public' which is at threat. Are we pissing off the wrong people? Should we be somewhere more appropriate. An obnoxious man tells her that she is interrupting our discussion, he is met by heckles. "Shut up, she's trying to help us." And my friend leans in and asks if we can do that? I catch the of gaze of Maximilian who is about to be shot. We leave through the side exit with a few others evading the police and entering into the real spectacle. The one which belittles our tiny operation. Tourists, workers, passers by, spectators gather around the flares, the smoke bombed epicenter, the protesters, the spectacle. The police were never there for the nomads, they were there for the increasing number of protesters retreating to Trafalgar Square. And because of this spectacle, no one knew there was ever an occupation of the National Gallery. More riot police arrive. Shortly after the hive disseminates. We retreat to the pub and consult the guardian news feed, no mention of any angry nomadic hives, no national gallery occupation.

But it did happen. We were there. We have a manifesto.


"This endeavor [of striving for happiness] has two sides... It aims, on the one hand, at an absence of pain and unpleasure, and, on the other, at the experiencing of strong feelings of pleasure... the task of avoiding suffering pushes that of obtaining pleasure into the background"
--- Lacan

"The most painful experiences... can yet be felt... as highly pleasurable"

With that in mind may I present to you the Jouissance of the Cat...

"The Cuckoo" - Tex Avery (1950)

The Cat shows symptoms.
Associates troubles with the Cuckoo.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo kills the Cat.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo kills the Cat.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo kills the Cat.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo kills the Cat.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo kills the Cat.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cat gets his hand broken.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cat gets a hole blown through his thumb.
The Cat attacks the Cuckoo.
The Cat achieves momentary satisfaction in believing he has killed the Cuckoo.
The Cuckoo kills the Cat.
This is a cartoon.
Do you get the point?

The Cat is crazy. He has an unhealthy obsession with the cuckoo. The cuckoo is his drive, he desires it, but he can't have it. His desire is something that is never fulfilled. Something he lacks. To have it would mean an end to his obsession. Satisfaction. Orgasm. But then what? The bird will be gone, the Cat is left with a nothing. He had his momentary release and now it is just a matter of time. Within the Cat is something unknown, an intruder who rouses his delusions. From within it erupts, the ringing in his ears, his falling apart. There is an alien within that he is unable to understand that torments him, makes him fearful, which manifests in the form of a cuckoo (in Lacanian terms a fundamental phantasy). The Cuckoo; unto which he desires torture and consumption - an attempt to derive meaning and sense from his internally erupting jouissance. He is repeatedly unsuccessful. His desire grows. His schemes to capture the Cuckoo grow more and more desperate, but he shakes, he trembles, he is so close.

"Who is there who in the name of pleasure doesn't start to weaken when the first half serious is taken step toward jouissance?"

In his bravado, he is weakened, he falters, he falls, he fails. He suffers in his desire, he perpetually chases himself round and round, complete and circular. Pain > Pleasure > Pain > Pleasure. Each time knowing the risks. The Cat is masochistic then. And finally he believes to have caught the Cuckoo. He believes it to rest inside himself. Satisfied, he believes his desire to be fulfilled. Then he falters. He turns back. He mourns. He represses...

The cuckoo has an obsession, though we never really hear his side, we just see it manifest in the torturing of the Cat. He is obsessed with the Cat. He is happy and fulfilled, although he never confronts his own joussaince (that which is internalised, over which he has no control) he enjoys his drives; his drives to torture the Cat. Unlike the Cat the Cuckoo is able to enjoy his drives for after each 'little death' the Cat is revived ready for the next scene, ready for the next temporary satisfaction of desire.

Meanwhile, the Cat mourns the loss of his little Cuckoo. The chase is over. Now what? Unknown to the Cat, the Cuckoo has not so miraculously been revived, just in time to witness yet another death of the Cat. The Cuckoo does not mourn. He lets out a triumphant blast of his horn, for he knows, as do we, that this is ongoing, they will perpetually chase each other, round and round. Death > Revival > Death > Revival.  The Cat, we can only imagine, will be revived for the next scene, in which he will once again suffer a 'little death' at the feathered hands of the Cuckoo.

And this is how it must be. For this is a fantasy. It doesn't matter that one is dead, the Other can always be revived to temporarily fulfill the necessary desire. Pain > Pleasure > Pain > Pleasure >Pain > Pleasure - each one is necessary for the the Other to survive.

Self Made Music...

It is a popular trend at present. Do everything yourself. The internet particularly is saturated by this. Blogs, websites, videos, memes, films, music, photography. It could be because technology is so readily available. Every fifth person has an SLR at a wedding. Every fourth person has a blog. Every other person has a personal space such as facebook. It is easy to get lost in it all yet, surprisingly things are dispersed daily that manage to break through. A small percentage. My blog, for example has a small but steady flow of regular visitors, but it is merely a drop of rain compared to the gushing waters that pass through blogworthy blog Hipster Runoff < The ultimate blog meme that seems to understand how to control it's popularity through usage of 'meme economy' tools... Yes internet popularity is a currency. Not only is it able to maintain it's (tongue in cheek) reputable status as a constant meme it is also able to excel others to a similar status (Best Coast, Wavves). My intention, however, isn't to discuss memes and internet analytics.

When it comes to production it is easier and cheaper to skip the middle man. Technology is so accessible these days. Every Man, Woman, Child and their Cousins have the technology. It is sometimes hidden amongst your computers applications but it IS in there somewhere - the means to self made music. It is possible because it is easy. You can craft something quite special in your own bedroom with surprising results. A lot of the time it'll be listened to be a handful of people. Your friends. Local radio. Your lover. Or even just yourself. Then, sometimes, just sometimes it breaks through. D-I-Y music, Lo-Fi, Chill Wave, I'm talking Ariel Pink (- his haunted graffiti), Toro Y Moi, Best Coast, Wavves. These bands all have critically acclaimed albums but are still pretty low profile. What about the ones who are yet to break through. I found this little lot loitering round my social groups. It's all quite lovely and occasionally visually stimulating. Temple Songs.



Silent Age

Symbolic Retribution for the Disconnected from mandi goodier on Vimeo.