Wednesday, February 01, 2006

In San Francisco’s Union Square last night, a crowd of about 3,000 people gathered to protest Bush’s State of the Union speech. After a slow start featuring the usual (albeit welcome and necessary) oppositional rhetoric, the event suddenly and unexpectedly caught fire, practically becoming a rave: against a live-TV projection of Bush’s speech, a group of taiko drummers hit the stage and led the crowd in a series of ecstatically angry chants, drowning out Bush’s words. Can we dance our way to revolution? That’s the way it felt last night. (For the finale, a giant effigy of Bush was toppled: the culmination of delight for this Blakean "devil’s party.") Indeed, this spontaneously appearing chaos-flower of the People’s affective intensities, tribally rhythmized into a frenzy of opposition, was all that a poetics of emergency might require. On the poetic front itself, some of these same intensities were palpable at 21 Grand in Oakland last Sunday, during the high-energy readings, interspersed with projected imagery and music, given by Brandon Downing and Bruce Andrews. On the lookout for signs of a cultural-historical phase transition, I point to these two events. The system is blinking red.


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