Drawing on Baudrillard, Berardi maintains that A/Traverso, Radio Alice, and other creative groups of Autonomia deployed a strategy of symbolic disorder – a strategy that the French philosopher has described as a Pataphysical science of “imaginary solutions” characterized by the formulation of nonsensical and tautological arguments, the lack of demand, even of a rational subject of enunciation. Such strategy was clearly articulated in a text titled “False information may produce real events,” published by A/Traverso in 1976…:
…Acting like a mirror, Radio Alice is language beyond the mirror. It has built a space in which the subject does not recognize himself as in a mirror, as restored truth, as fixed reproduction, but as the practice of an existence in becoming. And language is one of the levels whereby life is transformed. It is not enough to denounce power’s lies, it is also necessary to denounce and break power’s truth. When power says the truth and pretends it is natural, we must denounce what is inhuman and absurd in this order of reality that the order of discourse reproduces, reflects, and consolidates. Unveiling the delirious nature of power. It is necessary to take the place of (self-validating) power and speaking with its voice. Emitting signs with the voice and tone of power. False signs.1
Gray are the coats of the cops who have imprisoned comrade Bifo, gray are their instruments of death. Gray is the prison where he has been locked up, gray are the bedroom communities, gray are the streets in the business district. Obtuse is the constable who holds in his hand the hoods of his colleagues who rummage through the comrade’s effects, obtuse are the police who for three months recorded the phone calls, obtuse is the television. Dangerous are the organs of repression, dangerous because of the latest submachine gun model, dangerous is the judge who arrests first then looks for proof. Dangerous are the roads and squares infested with the angels of death of a system always more minoritarian, dangerous are the factories and the shipyards, dangerous to decide whether or not to let a child see the light of day.
…But let them say it clearly: It is dada that terrorizes the gray, the obtuse, the dangerous.2
I had the chance today to see inside the corporate offices of the local headquarters of a national fast food chain, and I think these two quotes provide a proper counterpoint to our post-Fordist, immaterial labor/cognitive-electronic control system that we’re ensnared in – in my mind, at least. The air of the offices was thick with boredom, repetition .. The adversary of the Autonomists, though it is functionally the same one that we are discussing today (albeit one that was in the major shift to neoliberalism), took on a far more militarized stance – as opposed the perpetually prevelant molecularized ‘soft power’ control and modeling that we face in our general, everyday life – their ruminations on the “gray, obtuse, and dangerous” reflect the environment of these office complexes quite well. Gray is the overwhelming color: the carpetted floors, the hallways, the row after row of cubicles are in this color, with the only variety coming in the onslaught of corporate logos and inspirational posters. Obtuse is the circular logic of tasks, the feigned pleasantries, the replacement of social interaction with ‘office politics.’ The fact that everywhere one was confronted with laminated signs reminding us that the stairwell is the “cheapest gym there is” speaks to the dangers arising from the destructive tendencies inherent in the sedentary life of the cubicle worker. And as dangerous too, following the obtuse, is the sense of dissatisfaction and even depression that comes with lack of a proper social. The corporation’s cure could be found on flyers distributed around the office: “Feeling lonely, bored, or lost? Call a meeting!”
Maybe a little Dada, a little Pataphysics, a little nonsense and absurdity is what we need, something to both shatter the glass cage of boredom and depression and to scramble or evade the codes of the system that is generating both of these things at our collective expense.
1Marco Deseriis “Irony and Politics of Composition in the Philosophy of Franco “Bifo” Berardi http://www.academia.edu/2364721/Irony_and_the_Politics_of_Composition_in_the_Philosophy_of_Franco_Bifo_Berardi
2A/Traverso “Radio Alice – Free Radio” in Sylvere Lotringer, Christian Marazzi (ed.) Autonomia: Post-Political Politics Semiotext(e), 2007, pgs. 130-134