Monday, March 20, 2006

B=Barney Back

Barney Back means Get Back/Off.
Getting back marks the relation to something. It marks definitely the definition of an limit space that threatens another: it is very different from Ajax that peacefully relates objects without describing the relation between them - they are close by and nothing else.
Barney Back is an specific order. Barney Back is a limit. Barney Back is physic. In Barney Back there will be eschewed the possession of power: the establishment of that movement between possession and knowledge.
I am obsessed with images of power especially the uniform of high military positions. These coats fancy a desire for homo-sociable domination and introduce them as symbols of power and structure/discipline. The understanding of this relation of desire of something that overwhelms you remark what at the same time represses and represents the boundaries of desire. Both elements share the definition together (as an aspect of their alterity and meaning).

Barney Back will also try to represent that sometimes desire is dangerous, that we shouldn’t invest desire more than we do to structures and discipline. You cannot ask for dynamism if there isn’t harmony. Barney Back attempts in this understanding of the need of structure as something inherent and undeniable for desire itself.


Ajax means nearby.
This is an essay about encounter and loneliness; about communicating desire and ambiguity; about secret and access.
The purpose of this work is to create an encounter between subject. The medium is video installation. The set is just a circular platform that goes around (there is a structure that hangs the platform) with two benches. Two same sex individuals are taking those places. What they create among themselves, their relationship, is a endless spiral of mystery and secrecy. This perpetual movement marks the impossibility of an exit: the communication is built up/imprisoned by its own laws/nature.
There isn’t a word spoken in between the individuals. What raises from their situation marks a relation of presence and desire (sometimes they look each other, or show to know someone is there). The communication they establish is never coming to form, not in words, not in structure.
The visual encounter of the subject (following the visual central field of the set up) is sided by multiple sound projection (which in fact are several words in Polari - 12 - each through different speaker). This blast of words are hidden ideas; hidden devices for expression and for circumscribing meaning. The words overlay reveals something strange: words are said in Polari and so, an inherent problem for interpretation (or perhaps not...).
It become important then, to "build up" what you want to hear by choosing the speaker you want to listen to. The choice move us through what is unknown (either you don’t know the code or you can predict the following word).


The vanishing of an culture, by the overlap of another is always marked by the attempt of eliminate its legacy (in order to establish a new order), and at the same time an integration of elements that mingle with the new implemented structure, both as folkloric and pragmatic interference.
The Dictiopolari project is born from an archaeological look on the formation of specific knowledge.
There is a relation of knowledge with Polari that marks its background and specificity: i know it because i need/want o know it; i own it an it defines me. For there as an relation of master and servant in some way: you cannot live without knowledge, but knowledge itself cannot live just in itself, without you.
Polari by giving meaning to a certain desire, creates (represents in words) an certain truth about an certain reality. A seek for truth that tries to detour and overcome the distortion of appearances that exist to mask and deny access to the real. This is precisely the bias for knowledge elaboration. And in fact, also one of the reasons for the emergence of a dictionary (to avoid misinterpretations).
The Dictiopolari is based on this need to communicate and recognition of a similar language. According to lacanian point of view, the subject (when trying to bring up its existence) is obliged to request the recognition of it to someone else; to approach others makes me identify with him (and by doing so dividing my true me). The language (the basis for this relation) is real but structures itself in the place of the other, and because of that we are able to communicate. That's the reason why the place of the other is the place of desire. Because he defines the limit that gives meaning to my action/desire.
A dictionary is an structure that defines a limit of interpretation: Dictiopolari is an interpretation of that limit. What limit? Based on what? Which relation exists between realities and communication? Is there a axis/context of relation among owner's of power? Why is there the need to form a word, to define it in sound and moreover in meaning? A dictionary reveals the existence of a structure of thought that defines a closure, a limit that safeguards the interpretation and alterity. A dictionary is like censure: reveals/creates at the same time that misprisions.

Friday, March 10, 2006


[photo: courtesy Maria Sottomayor]

Short notes on desire, representation and language.

Deep changes on the communitarian bourgeois logic brought the differentiation of numerous distinctive groups, reinscribing /institutionalizing a new class – the middle class. The former century was marked by disrupters with cannons and institutions that hold onto power (at the same time others reinforced new bodies and spirit). This confrontation logic frames an experience of the will for representing and creating new forms of speeches: alternative models of meaning and figuration. In fact, the aim for the power of represent marks one of the main conquests of the so called first wave of modern political movements. The changes on the cultural sphere (the emergency of a new social consciousness) were quite commonly linked to political agendas and organizations as the result of changes demanded on the level of economic system’s structure[1].

The logic of representation (despite it’s not a rule) is bond to the economic skeleton and to the (semantic) operations that occur among it. New figures of representation emerge in firs place when there is the common sense of desire under the cooperative cultural level (meant as more than a seldom individual desire). That is, a wish to become a figure (se camper[2]) tied to a political stand-point[3]. As the figuration is assured the recognition of the possibility for political right over the Law, the overlapping of schematic figuration (as such stereotypes and colonial points of view)… Obviously the ground yielded for the constitution of representation last for decades and in fact may not be achieved (I don’t think they ever will) the full political or social recognition/liberation[4]. For as much as it is possible for representing and enlarging new categories, fresh formulas will born in a way to fulfil and constraint the schemes that led to new identification. The diametric example that Foucault refers to in relation to the constitution of sexualities is an example of this condition[5]. The past was therefore marked by a struggle for materialization as subjects of history: the right to act over the world.

“To a system whose argument is oppression and repression, the strategic response is to demand the liberation rights of the subject.[6]”

Polari and discursive resistance.

There is a problem when eschewing resistance and representation: the fact that both constitute diametrical valences – the resistance factor and the culture emergent factor. I take for example Polari[7], that in one hand manifests itself as secret (resistance to identification) and on the other hand as (semantic) place for identification (representation).

“Individual liberation is all we can hope for and that is what you must challenge yourself to pursue.[8]”

Polari shapes the constitutiveness of a pre political communitarian ethos[9]. The group identity resistance of London’s queer subculture scene raised new alternative forms for those actual systems of signification and representation. These didn’t intent in changing the physical structure of the economic system since the concern was connected with the search for a specificity that expresses a close relation to life’s camouflage experience [10]. There isn’t an invitation to inclusiveness/openness (fear of lost of intimacy, authenticity and control) necessary for a democratic culture (since it reflects the fragmentation of society as a smaller culture). “Born” within this honesty and organic (the authentic) premises, on grammatical and intentional exclusivity, Polari wouldn’t have many chances in terms of implementation of power, since the discursive aim doesn’t leap from the personal communication to the real political effect[11]. Engaged on a bohemian tradition, sodomit underground is born and confronts its own flaw: Polari is born from a ghetto context and there finds its remarkable cultural hesitation[12].

As part of that communitarian identity ethos, Polari is born as lifestyle politics, as surface that poses itself to inform desire (and not to address it with a political agenda). The problem of the efficiency of Polari points to the fact when it isn’t vital anymore as form of secret communication. Also due to social taboos embed on the political level of discourse of homosexuality, has infantilised it into a folkloric epigraphy relegated from any possibility of progressive consequence.

Code incomprehensibility serves defensive communicative functions being the most important the reinforcement of group unity nature and reflects common interests, problems and necessities of a population. And if in one hand Polari is linked to identification it is clearly preoccupied with sexual reification. As function Polari protects sodomites from public identification and on the second hand expresses largely the ambit of distinct roles on the gay sub world. The danger of identifying an ethos as the key for authenticity tell us that such language is gay since is talked by gays and keeps a close connection with the experience of being gay. It’s clearly a dangerous thought since talks about uncontrollable variables[13].
The definition of a physical community is dangerous. It is better to assume an imaginary communitarian discourse were the analytical emphasis is set on the way linguistic elements of queer speech overlap any other characteristics[14].

Starting with Foucault notions of historical and cultural specific stages - categories aren’t significant outside their contextual source – only a notion of performativity guarantees the construction of identity according to a process of pronouncement. This is how a process of reception and production of language is installed. It is according to this understanding of language – community as performativity – that elements are found to allow the discussion about possession and foundation of cultural production logic; since the linguistic process is passable of quote/citation (hence value/rating or “appropriation”). In fact this approaches what is pointed out as Camp: confront with the dominant culture (without presenting binary values) confronting it with its wastes, revealing how any concept is historical. That it can be repeated to become recognizable r and therefore quoted – the iterability[15] - corresponds to a limit that defines a similar exteriorization in terms of analyses to what happens with censure and its withdrawing. I recall the image the uncultivated grounds leftover from the lost of censorship positioning: there is an ambiguous space leftover where representation can emerge without implicating much of a conflict. Mostly since censure was exhaustive in defining the limits of the censured object. In this way, censorship builds more than destroys. Language iterability helps to reflect the specificity of sexual discourse in which is played the nature of reception and trade. That is, what is exteriorised can only be understood within the reference to what is limited by performance – alterity.

When constituting a representation stops at a certain time, that occurrence is for sure, due to non necessity of them. The conflict either is resolved or refused. Polari as figure of representation is materialized or non viable since the logic of production-reception is stopped. The question is: if the figure of representation vanishes since the logic of need is lost why aren’t the political implications referent to dissident groups visible? In fact thus become unpractical or useless, where a dominant absorption or a dominant absence should (according to the logics of capitalism, happen).

The polemic involving need for political affirmation and identification refusal has always more to do with the fear of metanarrative’s endorsement: queer theory refuses the political concept of identity that defines a communitarian entity losing the implications of the specific individual (repetition taken as open and confused or fragmented and hard to categorize is aggressive to the notion of ideology).

Speaking about an end always implies a negotiation of needs that are born from a principle. To think in Polari as eschatological axis of “the closet” as something that is self-defined and created isn’t enough, especially confronting it with the socio-institutional processes that long those stigmatic processes. Hence a critical political overview cannot depend of its supposed relation with necessity with political categories per se since it needs to involve the speech on a mutual and contradictory dependence of categories – Polari as a semiotic place of sexual desire surrounds gender as an artificial whole and unnatural construction existing throughout repeated performance. This way, figures of representation are constituted first as figures of speech, receiving meaning on the institutional social practice and become (and always at the same time) self defined and self consumed.

A central problem when formulating figures of representation of something is placed on the frequent reduction of sexuality to sexual identity, imposing this factor as a linguistic text that is available to anyone, not stressing their own particularities. But how to relate the production of figures of representation (concepts, stereotypes and taxonomic images) to the production sphere; not on the economic level (on its relation with technique) but situating the value that she aids as a revolutionary transformation of its epoch? Are we facing the inefficiency of figures of representation (Polari as figure) towards a rescue of ancient models of rhetoric? Attempting to release the common use of the objects and speech figures of fashionable figures (the present parasite publicity presence) presenting them a revolutionary sense?

It is impossible to analyse Polari without contextualize it within the indifferent nature of proto and capitalist society where it is recognized a sort of sense of satiety and stagnation. The process of communitarian formation, by the time it loses the original communitarian marginal component (gay marginal subculture) towards a growing specular individualism, moves symbolic implications of underground culture into pastiche rhetoric. In fact pastiche is something that always has been connected to aggressive folklore of queer semiotics as camp. And in this way (incongruent for sure) the scheme of production and value (use-trade) is interrupted by the problem of a dead end rhetoric. This situation is some degree, is approachable to philosophy expansive field beyond aesthetics: into the very own field of artistic production[16]: the prolix imagination urges the necessity of interest – the work presents itself as problematic place.
The certain of neo avantgarde art bring up similar premises to queer intention: the more is expressed the less is revealed: more questions are raised and in this way detour from the increasing (dis)communicated void of contemporary individual expression[17].
Polari’s primacy may in fact lose its marginal intention becoming strongly folkloric; however its place as problematic in language itself still stands: in what circumstances a language gives place to an anti-language that resists and escapes its birthplace? What sort of production-reception logic is established on the use level?

Being desire a transitive factor, the appeal to codes in which is manifested and revealed-hidden, translates the problematic of the world/context that surrounds the subject (that inverts the logic of interest). Repression emancipates from language revealing the real limits of a representation where the analysis of desire direct us in the frontier between what can and cannot be on the locus of a subject on a specific epoch.


1 - As example regard the position held by women within the economic frame of late XVIII century. If the logics of reception change, that is, if the receptor changes, so the logic of production will have to.
2 - (from the French) To show up on the set/scene; appear to the public.
3 - For Sartre this figuration reflects the inextricable condition of existence according to the logic I am being later posed under the claim that The personal is political.
4 - By mean of censure devices that aren’t merely a regulation operation but an inner element of the own definition of new representations we should look at the language as limit that redefine itself. The language, that is, as language the censorship process and the representation process are symbiotic realities that never vanish or overlap one another. I rather prefer to think that it’s not the seeking for defining representations itself that defines a site for political representation, but in fact the progressive lost of censorship’s determination (as axis for political discursive connexion) on defining its own limits, since social, political and legal limits have themselves transformed. And by retrieving from those limits, reveals an uncultivated amorphous territory that allows for new occupation.
5 - See references to homossexuality in History of Sexuality I, Michel Foucault, 1994, pp.46-47.
6 - Baudrilard, Jean – The masses: the implosion of the social in the Media in “Notes from underground: zines and the politics of alternative culture” ed. Stephen Durcombe (2001).
7 - Polari (also named Palari, Palare and Parlaree) constitutes a complex index which main influences income from rhyming slang, backslang, Italian, French, Lingua Franca and Cant (criminal slang popular at the beginning of the XX century). Its structural rules are based on the grammatical rules of English but bringing itself up as antilanguage.
Mostly used by homosexual male, female impersonators, theatre agents, prostitutes and sea queens (homosexual marines), Polari constitutes an ideal platform for code communication, and specially one connected with sex acts and cruising. Its lexical structure is largely referential to professional, clothes, body parts and daily objects.
The use of Polari became mainly used by London homosexual community (one can point out the genesis of this slang to London) in between the decade of 30 and 70 of the XX century, mostly as reaction to strict anti sodomy laws (as a way to protect and camouflage or simply as form of attack, instinct or humour). I see it as an initiation model to what would be called the gay subculture (term that becomes universal in this temporal context).
8 - Mickey Z, The Reality Manifesto; Baltimore: Apathy Press Poets, 1983
9 - According Hobsbawn, there are to models of interventions that produces culture:
- political (organization, ideology and will to effectuate political changes);
- proto-political (research of an specific language that expresses common political aspirations about the world).
10 - Polari doesn’t fits on the daily demands of political strategy but as experience of the secret.
11 - Gramsci (sic) Power’s Structure: political anxiety cannot be resolved throughout Culture, as the real resolution of these problems can only happen when confronting the power on the political realm. There is, effectuate political consequences implies political programs.
12 - Awhile the legalization of sodomy and the non necessity of Polari as resistance model, the Polari is faced with its tanathian desire. According to Lacanian model of paranoid real, Polari can be thought as form of hiding an order behind a speech.
Paranoia (regarding Lacan) is the search for truth. The search that despite the occultation of appearance) insists on an order beyond things that are masquerade to denying the access to a certain reality. On the reach for its structural forms (the correspondence of the meaning of its lexicon) is established a locus for knowledge search and symbolic maintenance for a specific real. The will to know hidden things (ascetics) and our whish to know has for basis the delirium, paranoia. Our search for knowledge is delirious.
The extension of Polaris’s vitality is less centred on its folk character that on the scatological rereading of its profound sense of reality: revaluation of this (historicist notion) non category as fiction.
13 - It is better to autonomize this speech as tradition dissidence. Tradition that speecks a language that for being understood and making sense for the I as gay (being I a revelation of what I am and being where I am; the knowledge that I possess reveal my context and not some other essentialist nature).
14 - Withdrawing the marks raised around specific identity (mostly defined by binary logics) introducing a new direction/speech contamination: gender performativity.
15 - Derrida, 1995 (sic): performative aspects and linguistic processes generally work because they are passable of quote. As the signature (than demands the repetition itself) enters the structure of iterability (mutation/repetition). Repetition allows signification; to be recognized, the mark has to be repeatable. However if anything is repeatable it becomes simultaneously passable of failing, or not being well used or being forged. Therefore, signification cannot be localized on the intention of the speaker but on economy of the difference that characterizes language itself. Hence any attempt for defining a language appealing to intentionality is invalid.
16 - Parallel to the destitution of mimesis by sublime aesthetics, is also posed the destitution of the objectivity since the object hood is strongly influenced by an inquisitive philosophical nature.
17 - The compilation in index of Polari and its extension thought media dissolves its marginal intent and its enigmatic presence in discourse, mainly oral.