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Freeze December 10, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This is a neat way to retain and reshape the past. An Italian town that sought to deal with a fascist frieze.

Open to artists, architects, historians, and “anyone involved in the cultural sphere”, the bid explicitly stated that the intention was to “transform the bas-relief into a place of memory … so that it will no longer be visible directly, but accessible thoughtfully, within an appropriately explanatory context”.
Almost 500 proposals were submitted and evaluated by a jury composed of local civil society figures, including a history professor, a museum curator, an architect, an artist and a journalist. This jury recommended five proposals, voted upon by the municipal council. All the proposals and proceedings were documented online and open to public scrutiny.


The winning proposal is as powerful as it is simple. Superimposed upon the bas-relief is now an LED-illuminated inscription of a quote by the German Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt that reads “Nobody has the right to obey” in the three local languages: Italian, German and Ladin.
As the two artists who originally made the proposal, Arnold Holzknecht and Michele Bernardi, elucidate in their explanatory text, the “minimalism” of the intervention is explicitly meant to contrast the “grandiloquence” of the fascist-era style, whereas the content of the quotation is meant as a “direct answer” to the “invitation to blind obedience” contained in the fascist slogan.
What is most important, however, is that the original monument remains visible through the inscription. This is meant to emphasize that memory – and therefore history – is not a “blank slate” on which we can arbitrarily write whatever happens to be congenial to us in the present. Rather, it is a process of sedimentation, by which the past is never completely effaced, but constantly re-interpreted through the lens of the present.

This resonates with me. Wandering around Rome a decade or so ago I was struck by the aestheticism of Fascist era buildings. It’s hardly surprising, the architects came from the same ferment of radical experimentalism that gave us constructivism etc. Their radical instincts were diverted politically but their modernist underpinnings were evident and led to fine structures – albeit shaped to not so fine ends.

How does one disentangle that? Is it even possible? Does one extirpate or repurpose or what? And there’s a broader issue which is the existence of actual contemporary fascist strands. Does such art and structures lend legitimacy to those strands?

I tend to the view context is everything but with manifestations of problematic and on occasion much worse cultural and other artefacts a framing is useful where it is not possible to remove or replace them. I’m always reminded in these discussions of the tale of the statue of Queen Victoria which graced the grounds of Leinster House. During the first Inter-Party Government the statue was removed and placed in storage – understandably – the enthusiastic republicanism of Clann na Poblachta in part drove that removal. In the longer term it was sold to Sydney (in the 1980s) a solution that is kind of pleasing in its symmetry. Granted Victoria does not at this remove generate the passions that fascists do – though perhaps given the nature of the British Empire that is a testament to the fragility of memory and a lack of critical retrospection because it could be a very brutal empire indeed. But the key point is again that contextual aspects do come into play. Removal, reshaping, sometimes leaving alone, all come into played, don’t they?


1. EWI - December 10, 2017

Granted Victoria does not at this remove generate the passions that fascists do – though perhaps given the nature of the British Empire that is a testament to the fragility of memory and a lack of critical retrospection

I’d say that it’s also a testament to the continued capture of history in academia by the most reactionary and conservative elements (aided and abetted by one half of the Provo/Official split), and the reality that the ‘arts’ here really have reverted to just being an offshoot of London’s.


2. benmadigan - December 10, 2017

“the aestheticism of Fascist era buildings in Rome” besides echoes of ancient Rome, they were said to have been inspired by De Chirico’s metaphysical paintings


3. Dermot O Connor - December 10, 2017

Whatever the so-called american ‘left’ thinks is a good approach, almost certainly is the wrong thing to do. They’re only useful as a via negativa. And by american-left I mean “bourgeois liberals who pose as PC, but who never miss a chance to face-stomp working people, and who want nothing more than to get a greater share of the capitalist pie whilst feeling virtuous and progressive about it”, just so we’re clear who I’m talking about!

Identity politics / SJW types / liberals, NOT leftists.

The lib/SJW approach focuses very narrowly on semiotics / signs / language / symbols. Given a choice between attacking a sign or the thing the sign represents, they will almost always attack the SIGN. They are obsessed with portrayal of fictional characters in TV and comics, to the exclusion of actual oppression of living people.

They will brigade some individual who says something ‘incorrect’, destroy that person (professionally, but some have been driven to suicide, many have been threatened with rape and murder), but in any case, SJWs will ignore the systemic problem and focus on one individual. They will destroy that scapegoat, then move on to another one. Repeat, repeat, repeat, for ever. The system is, at no point in this process, under any danger. Only individuals, who may or may not be guilty of something.

SJWs will, if confronted, say “You don’t have to choose, we can attack racist imagery and actual racism, classism, etc”, BUT in practice, 99% of their activity is the assault on signs, speech, symbols, hence the obsession with confederate flags and monuments.

Ban this word, ban that sign, destroy this flag, destroy this fictional character / shame writers / shame actors, etc. – this obsession with accident over essence has to be the result of the debased form of Frankfurt School / Critical Theory / Cultural Studies / Post Modernism that the kids get on US campuses today. Their little skulls are opened to the world of ideas, and are quickly filled with a constellation of poorly taught and even more poorly learned material.

I’ve read some Adorno (a bit of ‘Dialectic of Enlightenment’). A very cryptic style of prose, and very interesting, totally legit to take culture seriously of course – but on college campus in the US this has metastasized into something that is both horrible and feeble at the same time. Horrible because it works as a lynch mob, and is essentially organised bulllying, feeble because of their cowardly and neurotic inability to fight the alt.right on a level playing field (we want safe spaces, de-platform, ban ban ban). Humorless, joyless as a mayflower puritan.

The right in the US calls the US college courses ‘cultural marxism’. As though the US state would permit a threat like actual marxism to be taught at their expense! So no, of course, there’s bugger all actual marxism or any real leftism to be found in us colleges; it’s all identity, all the time. Hobsbawm was right in the early to mid 90s; the biggest mistake the left could make was getting into the deep waters of identity politics, and abandoning universalism.

In post-modernism, biology and material reality are seen an inherently reactionary (Terry Eagleton’s essays in ‘Figures of Dissent’ and ‘Why Marx was Right’ were a concise left source on this, as right sources tend to be poison wells). So, everything is dissolved into ‘culture’, and physical biology is seen as ‘racist’. Well, we’re seeing how that little plan is working out. Not good.


An example of the semiotic/sign/symbol approach of the SJW:

There’s a beautiful computer came called ‘Cuphead’, animated in a 1920s rubber hose style. There were some critical articles about the game, as the animation of that period was particularly heavy on racist imagery and tropes, and the game does appropriate some of them, but strips them of any racial connotations for a modern viewer. The alt.right went nuts, accusing SJWs of going mental, “now they’re accusing animators of being racists because they draw in rubber hose style,” etc.

This youtube video by the excellent ‘Shaun’ tried to take down the alt.right moral outrage over the alleged accusations of racism made against the computer game ‘Cuphead’.

Shaun makes a great case that the outrage didn’t really exist (contrary to the right wing’s accustions).

HOWEVER, in the comments section, his own followers show that he’s wrong; the SJWs DO argue that the game is ‘problematic’; I pointed out in a comment hit and run that it’s stupid to tar the animators with racism because:

1. There is a continuum of racism in cartoons from then to now
2. There is a continuum of DESIGN in cartoons from then to now.

There is NO point at which you can say “here rubber hose ended”, or “here racist stereotypes ended”. They are still in use to varying forms. Mickey Mouse, a cartoon minstrel, for example, remains very rubber hose, and I don’t see these twerps going after Disney. I could have made my larger point about the debased approach of fighting signs and symbols and not the reality beneath them, but that would have gone over heads.

These wars on signs/symbols are heat sinks.


Anyway, I posted here about all this in far more detail:



On how to approach racist holdovers from another era, which is an entirely appropriate question when in the hands of an adult, the excellent John Michael Greer on an actual racist of the period, HP Lovecraft.

Note again, the SJWs want to BAN the Lovecraft award, rename it, or whatever (attack the sign attack the name attack the symbol, attack the ACCIDENT), JMG has a much more interesting approach, well worth reading in full. This is how a grown up handles the problem:



WorldbyStorm - December 10, 2017

There’s an interesting discussion on I think the second last Zero Books podcast which touches on a lot of what you’re saying above re identity. I think you’d agree with a lot of it.


Dermot O Connor - December 10, 2017

I think Doug Lain is one of the publishers (he’s here in Portland). Doug is regularly interviewed on the c-realm podcast, a LOT of stuff there has been said about the SJWs:


KMO has interviewed me a couple of times there also. Some of the interviews are behind a paywall, but a lot of them are public.

I followed KMO for years, only recently found out that it stands for “Kevin Michael O Connor” (I’m Dermot Michael O Connor, and my brother is Michael Kevin), KMO is from Arkansas originally, and I’m from Arklow. We both made a lot of $ in the 90s, then lost it all (him amazon.com, me disney), both had lives fall apart, reconstitute, both got into and out of peak oil, into the occult-ish end of ontology now, so just one of those funny synchros.


makedoanmend - December 11, 2017

Thanks D O’C for a very interesting take on recent events with regard to symbols.

How does this play with the reintroduction of the poppy into Ireland as a cultural force? Is it the left doing this? faux left? Or is there a larger political-social entity playing the old political spectrum dialectic like a violin of which the Left has become an unwitting ally? Everything appears to be liberal whilst outcomes ensure that a capitalist result of illiberal distribution of wealth is maintained and deepened?

My take is that it is a variant of Liberalism that has been taken to it natural conclusion within the context of the NTC (neoliberal thought collective). Are these so-called SJWs actually of the left (and I think at the very least their roots are) and are they developed with or without realizing they are part of this collective? The collapse of social democrats across Europe (including Irish Labour) would seem to indicate that either the leaders had a sea-change in outlook or harboured these tendencies or both. In any case, they were easily persuaded and must have know that their actions would destroy their organisations.

Or maybe they were just greedy little sods on the make for themselves, like Blairites?

And thanks for the link, I’ll be reading it asap.


Dermot O Connor - December 11, 2017

Jesus, I just posted a HUGE reply to this; it didn’t post; hopefully it’s in need of mod approval? (Note to self ctrl C before posting a long form!!!!)


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