Noises and Voices in Ye Lands of Ye Olde Folks
Still I am trying to find ways to make my research more understandable both to me and to my readers. The following is what I found, admittedly with little success to neglect the importance of walk: Imagine a world of wicked pimps and zombie “johns.” Imagine a ghost town whose settlers are tormented by their own ravaged, sold souls. Imagine a community on the social margins being purged from the face of the city in the name of the newly established order, which only confirms its own existence by replicating crime differently packaged. Try to picture criminalization of the wretched as a means of spreading the kingdom of Mammon. Think of a pilgrimage to the shrines where saturnalian deities are worshipped through a babylonian randomness of pornographic semantics. Envision a society in which junkies are not addicted to drugs, but to the hollowness of their own dehumanization. Imagine carnality robbed of the bodily—an individual devoid of one’s substantiality. Imagine a city as an abyss, wide open, devouring the detritus of what used to be the definition of a human being. Attempt envisioning enslavement by a belief that the wonder of meaning is not that it is. The portrait thus created is the necrophilic agony in Stewart Home’s Down and out in Shoreditch and Hoxton (2004). Exploring the unverbalized, this work shows how a social commentary is delivered on the level of affect through the tone and characterization. It is implemented in the reading to show the lateral paths of reawakening cultural activism and reclaiming human dignity. Subversive, playful literary and theoretical vernaculars are read as forms of resistance to socio-political, spiritual, and emotional control. Fusing the quest and activism through the written word and other forms of creation, these storytellers and/or theorists are redescribing the boundaries of traditional disciplines, genres, media, and self. Acknowledging the playfulness and inventiveness of the pluralist discourse, my poetics draws on the mutable notions of traditional categories and a presumption that new expressive modes emerge in the intersections between the textual, audio, and visual. It flashes out reading-writing tactics as remix of the existing forms, thereby reconfiguring the notion of storytelling. New horizons, appearing from the remixed vocabularies, address the problem of cultural exclusion. At the same time, they delineate the possibilities of thinking, writing, and living differently from the imposed patterns. Remixing is typically understood to be a part of music-making, just as storytelling is traditionally considered to belong in the world of letters. However, transmedial reconfiguration entails experiencing culture and self as a flux of interrelated stories, revisable through an exchange with fellow humans. The critique includes the issues such as the misconceived totality of discourse, commoditized emotionality, vulgarized sexuality, afflicted playfulness, blinding noise, bewildering spirituality, oscillations between melancholy and hope, singularity and communality, reactionary and transformative vocabularies and practice. The reflections outline the vision of resingularized humans, engaged in creation and activism, galvanized by and fertilizing solidarity and creation—the rebirth of the human face through silence. The phenomenon in question is called refacement and is understood as the reemergence of selfless fellow-humans, enduring the hindrances to patient, persistent creation of a free culture based on trust and love. In order to reanimate the burning appeal of redemptive silence, it is necessary to remix the noise. In other words, what is needed is daring response to the consensus about the impossibility to speak about the imponderables. Remixing the noise, among the other possibilities means to acknowledge the existence of the communicable unsayable. In the literary analysis of Home’s novel, that would be the tone, suggestive of the implicit social critique through minimalist characterization and the broken beat plot. The intervention of this kind, both on the level of the analysis and as the narrative tissue in the book, is seen as the source of the reawakening of the sedated spirit of resistance. Home’s novel demonstrates the notion of the remixed noise—the unuttered as literary tissue, cracks in the discursive, lateral paths of cultural remixing. Affective sparseness is that what allows for such reshifting. Minimalist emotionality is a sketch of an alienated, disaffected, zombified individual. Brutal, compulsive physicality symbolizes living in a soulless, commoditized world. It is presented in the text and, coupled with the content infused in the subtext, provides not only a reading, but an experience of the contemporary affective predicament. Psychogeographical portrayal of the character of London charters the changes caused by gentrification in the East End, focusing on the area between Bethnal Green and The City. Among the consequences is the ways in which it affected prostitution and drug trafficking, but also life of the working class. Contrary to the presentations in the media and arts and the public reception of the urban transfiguration, the reality shows little evidence of the mitigation of racial tensions. Rather, they have been intensified through the race-based exclusion with regard to job and housing opportunities. In sum, the picture is of a mutually conditioned complicity of the authorities in the process of ghettoization and, in turn, the proliferation of disorder in the neglected communities. Partly, the problematic can be understood in the light of Habermas’s thought about the politics of distraction. In “Modernity--an Incomplete Project” he writes about a populist reaction to neoconservative cooption of communication infrastructure. Different forms of resistance to modernization and science in the service of capitalist economy are suppressed under the flag of progress. Habermas points out a masked character of such an appeal for modernization and reveals the underlying motives for such socio-political occurrences. Precisely, he implicitly discloses the truth about scapegoating of certain cultural segments and practices in the name of the advancement of the cultural spheres by nature detached from the communication in question. Simply put, it might translate into seeing the key role of economic factors in the circles and activities that do not necessarily have profit as the primary interest: But the occasions for protest and discontent originate precisely when spheres of communicative action, centered on the reproduction and transmission of values and norms, are penetrated by a form of modernization guided by standards of economic and administrative rationality – in other words, by standards of rationalization quite different from those of communicative rationality on which those spheres depend. But neo-conservatives doctrines turn our attention precisely away from such societal processes: they project the causes, which they do not bring to light, onto the plane of subversive cultures and its advocates. (7) Focusing on the architectural reconfiguration of the cityscape, accompanied by cultural restructuring, Home depicts the ways of instrumentalizing the criminalization of the dispossessed. It can also be inferred how such politics triggers an absurd sustenance of the situation supposedly aimed to be changed. To demystify the bewildering mutually conditioning, I read such cultural mechanisms in the key of the opening sentence of Home’s novel: “To begin with transformations. I decided to throw away my own rules. I planned crimes against grammar by immersing myself in the grammar of crime” (7). Put differently, impoverished neighborhoods are being gentrified, while the inhabitants have been pushed further to the social margins. The underprivileged cannot rise up to new economic demands of the rejuvenated areas, so they not only remain culturally excluded, but also get displaced to the parts where the rent is more-or-less reasonable and the class divide is not as apparent as where new money is the sources of the city’s recovery. In order to endure hardships, preserve their own existence, or, simply, support certain lifestyles, the disposed have few choices. Frequently, they are limited to criminal activities, which have a double effect: on the one hand, it further degrades their social status and lives; on the other, they remain ghettoized, thereby out of reach of the authorities. This “double blessing” is evident in the life of the streets of London today. The areas described in the novel (mainly the East End) and those abutting them (northwards, including Shoreditch, Hoxton, and Hackney) create a bizarre picture of uncontrollable and incomprehendible city face-lifting with a grotesque effect: it brings glossy cafés, galleries, clubs, shopping centers, and Olympic villages to the neighborhoods, whose population is either forced to move out and find council housing where it is still possible, or to remain and negotiate with the new aesthetic. As a result, the city (not just The City) is transformed into a jigsaw-puzzle-style picture with flashy patches on one side of the street and the slums on the other. Similarly, as if a re-enactment of the death-life polarity, zones of healthy food and healthy housing “buttress” the polluted lungs of hoodlums. The creation of this manic-depressive portrait has massively been fueled by the new money thriving on the peculiar valences of economics, a projected image of power, hunger for glamour, and the affinity for sensationalism and sentimentality. In other words, the dialectic of pricy cheapness. Paradoxically, it is precisely in the overlooked, forgotten, or masked, back/lateral alleys where the authentic flavor of resistance can still be found. Although in traces, it is emerging from the slightly-to-seriously damaged facades of the originally Huguenot immigrant neighborhood in the Brick Lane area. It is also present in the unmowed grass in Weaver’s Fields. One can find it in charming, supernarrow passages off Whitechapel High Street or on the walls at King’s Cross St. Pancras. Finally, there is the 5 Caledonian Road radical haven at Housmans bookstore. There is nostalgia for postfuture in Bunhill Fields. There is a new voice awaiting to emerge from the ghost song of the chimney sweeper. Thematizing prostitution this way, Home scrutinizes power relations within the cultural establishment and criticizes institutionalized knowledge. College scenes in the novel show a distorted side of an educational institution. For example, a promiscuous university professor seduces a student and exposes his sexual frustration in a violent erotic act. Images of sexual violence are often used in Home’s novels to depict an alienated bodily experience, vulgarized sexuality, and body politics as a form of socio-political control that disguises questionable morality under the language of political correctness. Hypocrisy is also problematized through the critique of politics of globalization and the state of affairs in the European Union, based on the Old-New Europe divide. Many of the prostitutes, for example, are from the former Communist Bloc, which emphasizes the problems of inequality and inhumane treatment of degraded demographics in the E.U. Expanding on Marx’s critique of alienation and exploitation in capitalist and allegedly socialist/communist societies alike, Home uses prostitution as a metaphor for the social and existential dilemmas. For example, the antiheroine in this book is a well-educated, well spoken artist-prostitute-crackhead. Along with a class reference, crack, as the drug of “choice” of the impoverished, also metaphorizes prevalent affective patterns of our time, characterized by addictive, instantaneous gratification and superficiality in encounters with others. Home creates a picture of the modern world inhabited by the living dead – zombies deprived of their own will, obeying commands of the demon who, like the evil pimp in the novel who controls the life of the protagonist in the last part, “project upon [their] brain[s]…series of pictures with bright and vivid outlines” (166). This evidently references the dilemma of living in a media-saturated world and an aggressive intrusion of the military-entertainment complex in personal lives, depriving men and women of what would otherwise be their humanity. This is a vision of a vicious circle in which art, consumerism, prostitution, and possession maintain each other. The literary establishment reflects the mechanisms of domination and submission pertinent to the cultural industries. The issue is referenced through the destabilization of the role of the author—uncertainty of narration and mutable characters. By doing so, the novel poses the questions about the problems of ownership and hierarchy as the proponents of the materialist culture sustaining exclusion. Through playfulness, it contests literary and cultural conventions and divides. It determines how one resists impositions and limitations, at the same time reconstructing one’s communal being and reinventing individuality. As a representational vocabulary, literature is affected by the limitations of language. Normally, this implies that it is not possible to verbally express what is outside of language. This is how discourse exercises its power. However, not only the verbalized is what makes literature literature. There are literary elements, such as the tone, characterization, setting--the voice--conveying the message unutterable by and impenetrable through language. It is where silence disrupts discourse. It is where pockets of freedom await. Despite the envious johns. The ways in which affect is emanated through the tone of the narrative, discursive limitations are rendered negotiable, if not surpassed. Also it is the tacit layers which a social message is conveyed. In this I see great transformative potential of creation. The silent levels of the narrative reveal literature’s oscillating character. The ambiguity lies in its constructiveness and the double blessing of such a character. In particular, just as cultural constructs restrict one’s freedom, they are also the path for reconfiguring the predicament. In other words, being constructs is that what makes them reworkable. The remix can transcend the sea of fragmented, affectless, defaced entities and lead to the unity and union of refaced human beings, radiating life reemerged from the living dead, having been deprived of the vital ingredient for fruitful human relationships.