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Socialism and/or Barbarism
By Evan Calder Williams
Notes on a once & future nightmare. S a/o B 2008-2011 Follow @thickaswolves
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The rich go to the zoo


The zoo confuses the rich, on multiple counts.

First of all, the zoo is adrift in history. It doesn’t even know what century it is. It asks you this all the time, though the rich suspect it’s just an opening pretext to bum a cigarette, at which point the zoo will keep trying to hand you a filthy and crumpled and senseless ostrich in exchange. The rich already have an ostrich, and it smells of fresh sage and lanolin. They rent it out to each other at cost. Moreover, the cages are not even reclaimed, the rich notice – they are merely old – yet an open plan zoo would end badly for the rich. In a related question, are hyenas Crossfit? Or are they ripe with carrion made dead just for them, zebra throats opened to hissing breadth with knives designed expressly for this purpose by the rich and manufactured in their factories, staffed entirely by zebra?

Second, there are the animals themselves, and they, the rich say, are decidedly not local. The carbon footprint of a lion is unconscionable. The lion himself knows this, he butts his head against the bars of the cage in climatological shame. Hey babe, you see that lion forced to live with himself, the rich ask each other. No, one should not see animals, perhaps ever – because, after all, history – but certainly not outside of their ordained biome.  One should go always in person to the place where lions are found naturally. Because the rich, they say of and to themselves, should bear the heft of the sin of carbon rather than lay it across the threadbare architecture of a lion. In this day and age, the rich insist, one brings razor wire to big cats and not vice versa. That is what – hold on babe, the rich reply in lag, I’m trying to garrote an ocelot who refused to recycle, it is for charity – they call progress.

Lastly, and most confusing: for the rich, there is actually no such thing as the zoo. They go there, but they don’t get how it is a specific thing distinct from other things. It just doesn’t add up for them. One tries in their terms. Listen, it’s a safety deposit box for the bleedable. It’s a Barney’s where the window displays foul themselves and wait for death. No luck. The rich know about jails but only like one knows about comets or deep-sea trenches. No, for the rich, the zoo is not a place, not even a zone. It is just a slightly musky motivational seminar, called The Zoo, that teaches how there are things that can be caged, taunted, and ignored, like people who are not the rich, and there are things that can be caged in order to sell them to the caged, taunted, and ignored. One never sees the rich eat peanuts at The Zoo. They are too busy taking notes about how cages exist not to keep lemurs from enucleating toddlers but to keep the winter poor from looting the warm bundles of wealth inside. Under the word wealth, they add two underlines and wonder at the crystalline immensity of the world.

And when, after the seminar, the houses of the rich are torn down by the rich, they find the walls hollow and stuffed to bursting with ostrich, like coke or arteries or crumpled maps. At this the rich nod once, pausing on their way to the infinity pool.


When the rich walk


When the rich walk, they do so with an unknown number of small and relatively defenseless animals placed between the arch of the foot and the bed of the shoe. They walk with a deft and decisive lightness, not wholly unlike deer, deer not being amongst the fauna placed between foot and shoe, and hence, between rich and earth. For the rich, when they walk, there is no firmament: there are the stars above, which they know intimately and have tattooed iridescent onto the skin of hired help so their rich children may know of the cosmos on smoggy nights, and there are the warm and pliant things underfoot, from which claws, teeth, beaks, and grit have been removed prior to the walk.

The result of this lightness of gait is that a not-insignificant portion of the fine-boned creatures are spared. We should note, though, that their continued existence and hence potential springiness is neither the cause of the deft lift – the bones of the foot of the rich flex in accordance with long-established yet ever-evolving principles that govern the construction of yachts and large towers that pierce not only sky but, unknown to even those who live within them, also the strata of the earth to an equal depth – nor is it any concern whatsoever of the rich.

RIP Farocki (1944 – 2014)

CM Capture 2

Only once it had been learned how filmic images grasp for ideas and are themselves seized by them, were we able to see with hindsight that the resolution of the workers’ motion represents something, that the visible movement of people is standing in for the absent and invisible movement of goods, money, and ideas circulating in the industrial sphere. In the opening sequence of this first film, the cinema’s basic stylistic principle is already present. Its signs and meanings are not put into the world, they arise from the real.

In the cinema it is as if the world itself wanted to tell us something.

- Harun Farocki, “Workers Leaving the Factory”