The Year 2017
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations
Welcome to what is going to be a collective chronicle of the year 2017! This journal will follow the general change that we experience in our daily lives, in our cities, countries and beyond, in the political discourses and in our reflections on the role of artists and intellectuals. Originating from several talks and discussions with fellow artists and thinkers FFT feels the strong need to share thoughts and feelings about how we witness what is going on in the world. Week after week different writers, artists, thinkers and scientists will take the role of an observer as they contribute to this collective diary.
#44 May/December 2017
Yes, the elections. People were panicked, they thought the extreme right wing of France will take over, and they reacted, and they stopped what they thought was a tide. It is true that the Hollande era was catastrophic, but before him, the Sarkosy era was worse/it had more energy, for sure, but what kind of an energy? Corruption was highest, and let us not forget Libya: Sarkosy destroyed Libya without even consulting the Parliament. To destroy a whole country is no small matter, even if this country is not european. Anyway, Libya is at the door of Europe, and its destruction, besides being an immoral act of great magnitude, upset the balance in the Mediterranean, unleashed the forces of jihadism, and the consequences are still being paid for, even if the people have already forgotten that recent episode. Hollande paid for that too, and by ripples, in an extended way, the world is paying. So even when the average people don't think where the "malaise" comes from, they feel it, they know there's wrong doing in the world. So people were disappointed by a rightist government, then disappointed by a leftist government, so a young man came along, a "hero", a charismatic fellow saying follow me because I am a new way. Macron appeared as a messianic figure in a world that seemed given to machines, the lonely knight in a sea of confusion, the possibility for a whole system to renew itself. People projected their dream on a young man who, because he was new to politics and had no background full enough to give a shape to whom he was. Being relatively an unknown helped in this case, as everything people knew seemed to be rotten. He stopped the Le Pen menace and that's already a huge achievement. Now, we'll see what the near future will bring.
The big news in France is Macron. We can even forget his first name. He is the wonder boy, some even compare him to Napoleon! He saved France from an ugly bitch, one of Shakespeare's witches. Now, he is building his own party, enlisting a mathematician of genius, a woman toreador, a student! and many more average people. Remember how Obama was himself emerging from obscurity to the presidency. History sometimes repeats itself. So, for at least the time being, things promise to change in a very traditional France. In the same news-hour we saw an image from Syria: a vehicle showing the american flag carrying Kurds by the Euphrates, chasing away the dreadful Daech fighters. Good news to get rid of some Daech monsters. But what's happening behind the scenes?: never good news for Syria. The French, if anybody remembers, divided Syria at the end of World War One. They separated Lebanon from it, created with the English Jordan, and gave big chunks of Northern Syria to the Turcs, all this very likely to take revenge on the victory by Salah el-Dine who had put an end to the Crusades in the Arab East. This is not just an idea from me: when General Gouraud entered Damascus in 1920 he vent to the grave of Salah el-Dine in Damascus and said: "Salah el-Dine, nous voilà !" - Salah el-Dine here we are! It seems that now the Kurds want to carve for themselves, under American and French protection, if not incitement, as big as possible an "autonomous" region, creating thus a new division of Syria, a country already reduced. And once started, that subdivision can go on. So today it is Bachar al Assad who is fighting to keep the unity of Syria as it was at the beginning of the war. We can accuse Bachar al Assad of cruelty, he, or his regime, but we have to admit that he's doing his best to keep intact the frontiers of the country. We don't know what will happen if and when the forces of the Russian backed syrian government forces meet at some point the american-kurdish alliance (backed evidently by the Israelis). There could be "negotiations" (hopefully) or more and more destructions. In this case, we don't know yet, but Macron may join forces against the interests of Syria.
Here in France they're saying that Macron rhymes with Napoleon as pronounced in french. But we better wait and see.
Some of us are watching the German elections right there in Düsseldorf. It's certain that Angela Merkel is considered as a world politician and she and Trudeau are emerging as moral leaders in a "rotten world", Sunday is a transition day. A day suspended.
A good day to think of the "rest" of the world. Thus, China is reviving the Silk Road. Why not? It will give it's economy some tradition and history, the image of a return to grandeur. In the meantime Trump is meeting with Muslim leaders, but no muslim leader has yet openly asked the American president to bring more perspective to his sweeping accusations against that world. Their silence is remarkable.
In the meantime Latin America seems to be back to violence and chaos: Mexico, Venezuela, Brasil... things getting out of hands. And what about Lebanon, which interests me particularly? Lebanon is crumbling under garbage, it stinks! The private sector is thriving, it's said, and it's true. But how long can a country suffocate under a phenomenal mess and survive? In the fifties Albert Camus imagined that his north-african country was crumbling under a return to the plague. In Lebanon we have a plague, not yet named as such. And the traditional "leaders", leading to disaster, giving huge parties, going to festivals, and making money, with mountain of garbage at their doors! For those who did not go to mass today those are not encouraging thoughts, they concern a tiny piece of land, and an independent country... it's exclusively their problem. They can't blame colonialism, or the U.N., or climate change. It would have been good if they stepped around their houses...
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So the year is ending. Can we summarize some of the things that happened? Just a few things? In America we saw fires, apocalyptic fires destroying hills, houses, whole neighborhoods north of San Francisco. We are seeing terrifying fires in southern California, half a million acres of land burned, smoke covering miles, people evacuated, disaster beyond disaster, and a President who denies global warming and refuses to join the international effort toward the search of some solutions ...
We see the same President add to the complications of the Palestinian tragedy ... in the name of christianity! forgetting that Jerusalem was founded by the Jebusites, a canaanite tribe, in early biblical times, and that Palestinians are the inheritors and descendants of those ancient indigenous populations.
Latin America is still in continuous political turmoil. Speaking of Macron, again, we can say that he's showing some real leadership, firm on Europe, committed to the sovereignty of Lebanon, moderate on Syria... As for reforms in France, he finds it hard to shake a country who complains incessantly and still, on the other hand, is also suspicious of any reforms that are presented to it. Europe as a whole is threatened by the resurgence of extreme rightwing movements but somehow I feel that for the near future at least the democratic spirit will keep these movements under control. What to say? I can say that pessimism is dangerous, that the world is loaded with problems, but it still has young generations, good energies, creative people, a life force, things positive, that will keep us hopeful, and going.
Etel Adnan poet, artist and philosopher, was born in 1925 and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Her mother was a Greek from Smyrna, her father, a high ranking Ottoman officer born in Damascus. In Lebanon, she was educated in French schools. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, Paris. In January 1955 she went to the United States to pursue post-graduate studies in philosophy at U.C. Berkeley, and Harvard. From 1958 to 1972, she taught philosophy at Dominican College of San Rafael, California.
Based on her feelings of connection to, and solidarity with the Algerian war of independence, she began to resist the political implications of writing in French and shifted the focus of her creative expression to visual art. She became a painter. But it was with her participation in the poets’ movement against the war in Vietnam that she began to write poems and became, in her words, “an American poet”. In 1972, she moved back to Beirut and worked as cultural editor for two daily newspapers—first for Al Safa, then for L’Orient le Jour. She stayed in Lebanon until 1976. In 1977, her novel Sitt Marie-Rose was published in Paris, and won the “France-Pays Arabes” award. This novel has been translated into more than 10 languages, and was to have an immense influence, becoming a classic of War Literature. In 1977, Adnan re-established herself in California, making Sausalito her home, with frequent stays in Paris. She has written more than a dozen books of poetry, fiction, and essays. Besides her literary output, Adnan continues to produce visual works in a variety of media, such as oil paintings, films and tapestries, which have been exhibited at galleries across the world. She now lives in Paris.
#1 January 1st - 8th Jacob Wren
#4 January 20th - 30th Alexander Karschnia & Noah Fischer
#5 January 30th - February 6th Ariel Efraim Ashbel
#6 February 6th - 12th Laila Soliman
#9 February 26th - March 5th Gina Moxley
#11 March 13th - 19th Agnieszka Jakimiak
#12 March 20th - 26th Yana Thönnes
#13 March 30th - April 2nd Geert Lovink
#15 April 10th - 16th Iggy Lond Malmborg
#17 April 24th - 30th Jeton Neziraj
#20 May 15th - 21st Bojan Jablanovec
#22 May 29th - June 4th Segun Adefila
#23 June 5th - 11th Agata Siniarska
#26 June 26th - July 2nd Sahar Rahimi
#29 July 17th - 23rd Maria Sideri
#30 July 24th - 30th Joachim Brodin
#33 August 14th - 20th Amado Alfadni
#38 September 18th - 24th Marcus Steinweg
#43 October 23rd - 29th Jeannette Mohr
#44 May/December Etel Adnan
#45 December 24th - 31st Bini Adamczak
10.6. #future politics No3 Not about us Without us FFT Juta
Geoffroy de Lagasnerie Die Kunst der Revolte
21.1. #future politics No1 Speak TRUTH to POWER FFT Juta
We are deeply saddened by the devastating news that Mark Fisher died on January 13th. He first visited the FFT in 2014 with his lecture „The Privatisation of Stress“ about how neoliberalism deliberately cultivated collective depression. Later in the year he returned with a video-lecture about „Reoccupying the Mainstream" in the frame of the symposium „Sichtungen III“ in which he talks about how to overcome the ideology of capitalist realism and start thinking about a new positive political project: „If we want to combat capitalist realism then we need to be able to articulate, to project an alternative realism.“ We were talking about further collaboration with him last year but it did not work out because Mark wasn’t well. His books „Capitalist Realism“ and „The Ghosts of my Life. Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Future“ will continue to be a very important inspiration for our work.
Podiumsgespräch im Rahmen der Veranstaltung "Die Ästhetik des Widerstands - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Peter Weiss"
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations ist ein Projekt im Rahmen des Bündnisses internationaler Produktionshäuser, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.