"The necessity of not having control over language, of being a foreigner in one's own tongue in order to draw speech to oneself and "bring something incomprehensible into the world."
I chose a quote of a quote as the exergue i would like to put in the beginning of the 5th edition of the "Dictionary of war".
The exergue is taken from Deleuze and Guattari "Mille Plateux" but itself it is quoting the german poet, dramatist and writer Heinrich von Kleist: It is a close reading of Kleists famous text "On the Gradual Formation of Ideas in Speech" ("Über die allmächliche Verfertigung der
Gedanken beim Reden"), in which Kleist denounces the central interiority of the concept as a means of control--the control of speech, of language, but also of affects, circumstances and even chance.
Kleist proposes a notion of thought as a proceeding, as a process, where one speaks before knowing while the other relays before having understood. Deleuze and Guattari suggest to understand this form as the becoming-woman of the thinker, the becoming-thought of the woman: the Gemüt that refuses to be controlled, that forms a war machine.
What a confusion of traditional notions and common, conventional meanings! Thinking does not rely on knowing. Relaying has nothing to do with understanding. This is precisely what characterizes a war. And the war machine is effectively formed by the refusal to be controlled, by a becoming foreigner even in one's own tongue, by what Deleuze and Guattari call - in reference to Kleists Penthiselea - "becoming woman".
The war machine of Kleist is opposing the State -- namely Goethe as the poet of the State. It gathers the nomadic warriors outside the State Apparatusis. It is a "problem-thought": A problematic thought and at the same time a thought that responds to a problem. It involves posing or re-posing problems which had been malformed, which are new or need to be adressed in new ways. It is a reworking of a problem that appeals to a people (today we call them users) instead of taking itself for a government ministry. It produces a minor and smooth space.
I really do hope that this project, the DICTIONARY OF WAR could be capable of operating in similar ways and in such directions. In the last instance it is all about refusing control, loosing control over language. Deserting from a war of words (or infowar), drawing speech to ourselves, and bringing something incomprehensible into the world.
We understand this project as a smooth space, as a platform, as a production space.
When we invite the participants to create a concept for the DICTIONARY OF WAR we are rather driven by the desire of conceiving and composing something very heterogenous and pluralistic, something unforseeable and unexpected, in short: something incomprehensible. The goal is to design and set up a collaborative platform and to operate in a collaborative, undisciplined fashion rather than producing ever more exceptions and exemptions.
At the same time the DICTIONARY is definetely not meant as a sort of specialized wikipedia, a state ministry of globally shared knowledge with a focus on war. We are looking for and forward to concurrent versions, divergencies, critical debate and discussions rather than identifying a common understanding and imposing so called "definitions" that are supposed to control and regulate a meaning.
There are no limits except a certain time frame of half an hour for the actual performances; every contributor or concept person is free to choose whatever medium, format or genre to present their concept.
We are perfectly aware of the fact that there is no way back to the idea of a universalized knowledge, so the underlying tone of the DICTIONARY should be based on the assumption of refusing both, unifying and simplifying notions as well as particularism and exceptionalism.
Possibly by creating concepts we may be able to find ways how to struggle what is nowadays called a state of exception that becomes a rule. Or in the words of Alliez and Negri: "A meta-politics in which peace no longer appears as anything other than the continuation of war by other means. A wholly relative alterity, that of a continuous police action exercised upon a globalised polis under the exceptional legislation of an infinite war – from which peace is deduced as the institution of a permanent state of exception."
Peace as a continuation of war by other means. Peace as the institution of a permanent state of exception. In this part of the world it seems not necessary to explain in detail what this could mean. But it might be necessary to underline how this edition of the DICTIONARY OF WAR has been made possible. It was not us -- the original organizers of the project, who after four editions in german and austrian theatres - who all the sudden got the idea to travel with the project to a region that has been affected so heavily by war so recently.
The proposal of the fifth edition has been made by our friends and long-time collaborators from KUDA.ORG who were participatig in the first edition in Frankfurt, and came to Berlin to join the fourth and so far last edition. It was KUDA who drew speech to themselves and approached us with the idea of a 5th edition, here in Novi Sad.
The 5th edition of the DICTIONARY OF WAR is a collaboration in the true and best sense of the word. A collaboration precisely in the critical, conceptual understanding which marked the very beginning of this project.
The original idea of the dictionary traces back to an event we have been organizing almost three years ago in Tarifa, in the very south of Spain. At BORDERLINEACADEMY, where about two hundred artists, activists, theorists met, we were realizing that although we might share some basic beliefs, convictions or attitudes there is a surprising lack of understanding since specific keywords or buzzwords were conceived in tremendously different ways and notions. Sitting together and thinking about "what is to be done?" we thought that by organizing a dictionary session might reveal a certain potential for the creation of further and possibly very productive understandings and/or misunderstandings.
It happened that in this spontaneous, ad-hoc or beta-version of the DICTIONARY the term "Collaboration" was the first concept. Collaboration is one of the guiding terms of an emergent political sensibility in which certain collectivities and mutalities are being redefined as modes of affectual politics. Collaboration, literally, means working together with others, especially in an intellectual endeavour.
The term is widely used to describe new forms of labour relations within the realm of immaterial production of varying areas, but though significantly present there is very little research and theoretical reflection on it. What is at stake is the very notion of establishing a new understanding of the term ‘together’ within a dynamic of ‘working together’.
The problem is, that most often collaboration is used as a synonym for cooperation, although etymologically, historically and politically it seems to make more sense to elaborate the actual differences that shift between the various coexisting layers of meaning.
In contrast to cooperation, collaboration is driven by complex realities rather than romantic notions of a common ground or commonality. It is an ambivalent process constituted by a set of paradoxical relationships between co-producers who affect each others.
It is an ambivalent process constituted by a set of paradoxical relationships between co-producers who affect one another. Collaborations are the black holes of knowledge regimes. They willingly produce nothingness, opulence and ill-behaviour. And it is their very vacuity which is their strength. Unlike cooperation, collaboration does not take place for sentimental reasons, for philanthropical impulses or for the sake of efficiency; it arises out of pure self interest or ignorance.
It is a performative and transformative process: the sudden need to cross the familiar boundaries of one's own experiences, skills and intellectual resources to enter nameless and foreign territories where abilities that had been considered "individual" marvellously merge with those of others. In this sequence, in these smooth spaces of collaborations outcomes and processes follow an inverse relation as do the relations of power. For what comes about is not the 'granting' of access but a recognition across the board of those involved in the process, that it is the unexpected multiplicity and uncertain location of the points of access that is at stake in the exchange.
Against the background of postmodern control society, collaboration is about secretly exchanging knowledge independently of borders. It stands for the attempt to regain autonomy and get hold of immaterial resources in a knowledge-driven economy. It no longer matters who has knowledge and who owns the resources; what matters is access: not a generously granted accessibility but a direct, immediate and instant access, often gained inoffcially, illegally or illegitimately.
While cooperation involves identifiable individuals within and between organizations, collaboration expresses a differentiated relationship made up of heterogeneous elements that are defined as singularities. As such they are not identifiable or subject to easy categories of identity, but defined out of an emergent relation between themselves. Collaboration is extra-ordinary in so far as it produces a discontinuity and marks a point of unpredictability, however deterministic.
In fact, collaboration relates to the mathematical definition of singularity as the point where a function goes to infinity or is somehow ill-behaved. It is singularity which distinguishes collaboration from cooperation and refers to an emerging notion of fragility and precariousness, a systemic instability that is constantly threatened by collapse.
Rationality has been replaced by a kind of relationality that constantly decomposes and recomposes information in order to make temporary use of unexpected dynamics and contingencies (such as the alphabetical order in which the concepts will be presented over the next two days, the wild and immanent use of the project in the most diverse contexts).
I am truly convinced, that collaborations are the kind of todays' war machines that enable us to "bring something incomprehensible into the world." As Kleist, the oppononet of the historical collaboration with the french troops in the ealry 19th century, wrote: "I mix inarticulate sounds, lengthen transitional terms, as well as using appositions when they are unnecessary."
This constitutes the beauty of collaborations and, in particular the beauty of collaborations like the DICTIONARY OF WAR: A war machine against war. That shows war to be impotent in the face of those singular constructions of the world that it intends to shatter.