The Performative Indoctrination Model: Colonialism without tears
Before I begin I would like to raise two issues. Public declamation is an act of dictating and dictating is done by a dictator. The dictator is the one who speaks while others listen, the one who determines the parameters of discourse for a group, a nation or an empire … a discourse inscribed on the minds and bodies of subjects.
Dictaction, embodies itself in the script, and the script has always been the invited but resented guest at the table of performance. There is always a struggle against or acquiescence to the script – the author’s voice.
The other issue I want to raise is the confusion between the discourses of propaganda, propagation and war. My president, Bill Clinton has come to embody this confusion. When called on the carpet for lying about fucking Monica Lewinsky, he rolled over at fucked Sudan and Afghanistan, providing a platform for his confession. As they say in the church, „The man felt a powerful need to confess.”
The confessional is the sublimation of a physical orgasm into a moral one. It is the occlusion of the body of the performer by the body of the text. Young George Washington confessed to using his father´s axe to cut down the Cherry tree. In true American style he couldn’t just pluck a cherry or lose his cherry quietly, he had to cut down the whole fucking tree. Maybe that was an act
of revenge too.
So, Clinton’s „Fucking Confession” performance and his „Military-fuck” performance were both collus … occlusions.
The tremor in the voice, the slip, the stammer, the locked breath of stage fright, all the symptoms that performers experience in performance and use their professional skills to overcome … these are occlusions. The occlusion is the sign of a limbic revolt against the dictatorship of the cerebral cortex. It is a two-directional performative rupture: the body occludes the text; the text occludes the body.
It is the occlusion that marks the outbreak of ecstacy and fear in the dictator – the text overwhelms, takes the body, but the body struggles to resist the moral ellipsis that is required for ecstatic release.
(Pause … looks down at radio-microphone. Removes it from collar)
If I take off this mike and … (swallows microphone)
Now im going to read these words on this page carefully … . But no matter how carefully I read them, you hear the performative rupture, the betrayal of the automatic nervous system by the text and the struggle against the text by the body – the struggle results in a bleeding into ethical ambiguity: the bad act, the act done in bad faith: the act of collusion. Bad acting is an act of bad faith … It’s when the actor/dictator hypocritically relies on the body to release him from the fascism of the script … While at the same time relying on the script to absolve him of responsibility for his actions. So in this performance of the text, all I can hope for is occlus … collusion. All I can hope for is oc-collusion, a dancing on the graves of the dead … A signing through the flames.
(Video prelude: Lee Weng Choy)
Why do Western artists and intellectuals still hold on to the fantasy that performance art can make a difference in the West?
It is only in places like Southeast Asia where performance art now matters. Let me explain: Every time modernity reincarnates itself, where the action is in its newest arena. Let’s just stick with the issue of cultural modernity. Recall how New York stole modern art from Europe. The term post-modern lacks precision, of course; perhaps a better „name” would be schizo-chronic modernity, where the „newest” arena simultaneously advances the cultural forms of the past even as it lags behind the previous arenas in its cultural development. If I may rehearse the premises of my argument, which of course you are well familiar with: New York had long lagged behind Paris as a centre of culture, and even today has not quite caught up – as it can never have the density of Europe’s history. But in its heyday in this mid-century America advanced painting, overtaking Europe even as it did not „properly” catch-up. Europeanism was modernity’s first universalism. When Americanism surpassed Europeanism, the former imposed itself as the new universalism – that’s why we don’t use the phrase „American modernity” so much as „Western modernity”. America has both assimilated Europe and been assimilated by the grand trajectory of Europe.
What happened to European modernity is happening to Western modernity. Displacement. We here in Southeast Asia are going to takeover postmodern art from the Americans. Do not be deterred by the present economic crisis. We will ride it through. The future of modernity is ours.
Of course the West is fighting for the survival of their cultural postmodernity, and they have put up a good fight – they have long infiltrated Southeast Asia with „advance guard” cultural agents. How else do you explain the boom in performance art and installation art in Southeast Asia over the last decade or so.
But look what is happening in their universities: America may still be the world’s Information Central for some time to come, but the most advanced intellectual centres in America are talking and publishing about little else but the new Asian modernity. We are becoming their avant-garde.
Lee Weng Choy
(Video: Lan Gen Bah)
Take this as a warning, or, rather, a caution, though perhaps „the fine-print in a contract” would be more accurate – maybe even „instructions for use” .
Let me tell you about Lee. Lee Weng Choy. He is, as you will surely realise, lying. He speaks, he lies. As I do.
But telling you Lee is lying is like telling you that Lee is speaking. Telling you that Lee is thinking his thoughts is like saying that his thoughts are thinking him. But, really, they are not even his thoughts. They are mine. I mean they are mine as well. The question remains, are they yours too? In what way is today’s theory the language that speaks us? That lies for us, to us, about us?
But you already knew all this. So this is like the caution on the box of cigarettes – we all know it’s redundant, but there’s something reassuring about being warned that our pleasures are killing us.
Yours et cetera,
Lan Gen Bah
Two years ago a group of Asian non-government organizations held a conference in Malaysia concerning the right to self-determination in East Timor. The conference lasted for 10 minutes before it was broken up by a group closely associated with the Malaysian government, who had bowed to pressure from Suharto to not allow the conference. The East Timorese have been fighting for their independence since they were invaded by Indonesia in 1975. An estimated 200,000 East Timor citizens have been killed or disappeared, roughly ⅓ of the population. East Timor is one of the significant sites of 20th century genocide and Suharto has been a prime recipient of investment funds from the Deutche Bank.
Meanwhile, my country, the US, has spent billions of dollars over the last thirty years helping to militarize the Suharto regime, to ensure a stable capitalist ally in Southeast Asia, one receptive to American investment. And this was part of a larger project to capture the hearts and minds of the people of Asia-Pacific and Europe. The epicentre of the project was Berlin. Old cold-war relationships rise to the surface again and again, particularly during times of economic crisis.
When we attacked targets in Sudan and Afghanistan, your government stood in fundamental support of our revenge.
While the US seeks to maintain the present capitalist global order with „whole -sale State terror”, Osama bin Laden appears to hope to de-stabilize that order with „corporate-retail terror”, allowing for a new order to arise. Osama views the United States and its agencies such as the FBI, the NSA, the NSC, the CIA, the think tanks and corporate affiliates of the military industrial complex as the world´s largest terrorist network. Martin Luther King also saw the FBI as a domestic terrorist organisation. Recently the FBI has begun to move its expertise outside the U. S.
But State sponsorship and propagation of terror is nothing new. As a concept and method, it found a place at the very heart of the European enlightenment. The rise of the nation-state and modernity are inextricably linked with the propagation of terror, as the French Revolution, the colonial era demonstrates.
It is clear to us which vision of world order Germany has chosen to support. We acknowledge that you too have bitten into the fruit of the garden of earthly delights.
Now, to step back in time for a moment, it was during the Vietnam War, that the US intelligence establishment decided it was time to reinforce our military expenditures abroad by undertaking what we call the 3-As, accessing, assessing and addressing the information requirements of friendly governments. In short, it was time to move with our allies into the information age. Out of this analysis was born the CII, or the Cultural Intelligence Initiative, and one little known project under that initiative, the National Peace-time Propaganda Project (NPPP). Originally it was overseen by the Defense Program Review Committee, and subsequently under the 40 Committee of the National Security Council, which is also responsible for intelligence activities in other regions of the world, particularly Central and South America.
I first came into contact with The Network in 1989, soon after my arrival in S. E. Asia. Over the last eight years, my research has brought me into contact with artists and ideologues at work in this region. And out of our joint observations, we have begun to develop a theory of Performative Propaganda & Indoctrination which we affectionately call PIM, (the Performative Indoctrination Model). I would now like to describe the model to you. But first, I should introduce the work of two of my colleagues: Lee Weng Choy and Lan Gen Bah. I invited them to contribute to this presentation from a distance, as they are presently in Southeast Asia, and they agreed to send video segments. However, they insisted that I include in this talk the following disclaimer, and I quote:
At advanced stages, the propagandist functions like William Burrough’s „hombre invisible”, the one who sees others first, and by seeing first remains invisible to them. And propaganda functions like a purloined letter, which, by being placed out in the open remains unnoticed. In order to remain effective in the field, we must be that „hombre invisible” and our work must be a „purloined letter”.
Recently, Lee and Lan have begun to research new collaborative forms of doctrinal dissemination, which they ironically refer to as „The Method” after Stanislavski. The Method is a unique hybrid of art, agitprop and theory, which appropriates elements of Dada, Futurism, early Soviet agitprop, Italian fascist agitprop, fluxus, the theatre of Brecht, Grotowski and Squat, Fanon, the works of Guy Debord, the Situationist International, Hans Haacke and the spectacles of Goebbels and Speer. In the Americas, we have drawn on the work of Judy Chicago, Nam June Paik, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal. In Asia we have appropriated from pre-colonial rituals and performances, including Bangsawan, Wayang Kulit, Philippine Sinakulo, Marxist Sinakulo and the work of many Asian artists and ideologues, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, PETA, the work of Fifth Passage, Ho Chi Minh, Pauline Hanson, Mao Zedong, Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP.
My own work, which deals with the mutability of identity and belief has also found its way into The Method. And of course the early work of Lee Weng Choy and Lan Gen Bah themselves. Lan’s agitations, which are generally introduced into the mass media of target societies, hearken back to the aesthetics of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. While Lan tends towards grand spectacles, Lee excavates the rhizomic tendrils of representation and identity formation in the target society.
The Method is also influenced by the propaganda projects of the colonial powers, first developed by orientalist scholars and structuralist anthropologists of the 19th and early 20th century, and retooled after World War II by the United States. Lee & Lan have combined this western propaganda tradition with a strongly paternalistic model deployed by Singapore, Indonesia, China – a model which can be traced back to the Deva Raja cults of the 10th century Khmer and Sailendra empires, and China’s imperial court.
We have found that by utilizing a virtually osmotic transmission of multiple, subtle layers of data, we can place the „Subject-Population” into states of irresolvable paradox, reminiscent of Bateson’s double-bind. In attempting to resolve the paradoxical bind in which it finds itself, the Subject-Population unwittingly becomes collaborator in its own indoctrination.
The Method is Populace-Specific, Event-Specific, Site-Specific and highly self-reflexive. To borrow a term from the digital world, the Method can be seen as a kind of „rapid prototyping” of the socio-political context, and, when possible, it follows months or years of grass-roots research in that context.
Let me give you an example … a rural intervention in Indonesia, might have a cyclical structure, with communications aligned to padi field water-rights. Such an approach obviously would not work in a post-industrial society such as urban Singapore, Berlin, New York or Jakarta. In these societies of the advanced spectacle, we have found that people cannot be convinced by the manipulation of traditional structures alone, but are susceptible to the exploitation of the inherent conflicts between the interests of civil society and those of the State apparatus, or those between hegemonic and marginalized groups – this latter method is particularly appropriate in Germany today, with tensions remaining between East and West Germany.
The Method is engineered to introduce into the target society a „readymade” system of spectacles, beliefs, myths, ideologies, rituals and – only when absolutely necessary-engineered crises. The Method is a cultural Trojan Horse, creating the semblance of a strong center, around which may cohere what we call „cultural entities”, that is, traditional modes of production, class, ethnic and sex-role demarcations.
Now, I use the word „readymade” quite intentionally, as we have found Duchamp’s concepts essential to our research. In particular his „Standard Stoppages” has led one of the researchers in our Theoretical Structures Task Force (TSTF) to Poincare’s theory of convention and measurements, which she is applying to phenomena profiles of emergent social systems, i. e. societies at the edge of chaotic transformation or dissolution. She has found that the „Standard Stoppages” – which articulates the performance of intentional randomness in a four dimensional field – offers us a template for evaluating behavioural patterns, observed in societies under severe stress.
Although structuralism is now under critical attack in the post-modern era, we have also found it useful to build on the volume of work done by the structuralist anthropologists and bureaucrats of the late colonial era (Durkheim, Levi-Strauss, Malinowsky, Boas, and Mead) for it was they who developed principles of observation that effectively reduce cultural complexities to basic social structures and their transformations in time.
From our observations, we conclude that the stated or unstated purpose of all propaganda is to eliminate or reduce discontinuity in the social field, to produce a seamlessly continuous present, and to transform the chaos of daily social relations into a coherent ideological field.
We have identified five distinct, stages of a successful propaganda project in a post-colonial society.
Just prior to a change of government or social order, or to a paradigm shift in a field of knowledge, such as art, propaganda must present a clear ideological alternative to the status quo. Manifest Propaganda: the Manifesto, the tract, the pamphlet and caricature are the initial means of this transmission.
Although we usually think of manifestos as underground publications, passed hand to hand, or distributed randomly by anonymous agents, the manifesto is first and foremost performative. Manifestos are performed from the pulpit, the prison, the speaker’s box, the street corner, the pub, the art gallery, or posted on the internet as in the case of Commandante Marcos or the Unabomber.
The Manifesto represents that moment when a propaganda project intrudes the daily consciousness of the people; literally the moment when the project becomes manifest against the ground of daily reality.
The manifesto interpellates … calls out the populace … and evokes stimulus recognition in an ever expanding circle of people, shifting them from passive reception to active participation.
The second stage of indoctrination, Hybridization is intended to open the possibility for a new performative order in the minds and hearts of the populace.
The beliefs first presented in manifesto form enter the language of the street and are consolidated, hybridizing into the performance of daily life.
During Essentialization or Mythification, the new ideology is grafted to the perennial beliefs and prejudices of the hegemonic group, obtaining a mythic justification and sense of destiny from these historical associations.
The colonial „sciences” of eugenics, developed in 18th-19th century Europe and America was originally used to justify slavery in the United States and colonial policies in Europe. Many of the same beliefs were adopted by the Nazis here to justify their racial, ethnic and cultural cleansing.
For the Martinique writer, Aimé Césaire, fascism was an inevitable product of the colonial era, it was the final colonialism turned by whites against white. Not having the far flung colonial empire of some of its neighbors, Germany applied the program of colonisation to its European neighbors and turned against the „oriental” within, the Gypsies, Jews and others. For Césaire this act of white colonising white in the midst of Europe was the final proof of the barbarism of the white colonial culture. The humanism spawned by the Enlightenment walked hand in hand with exploitation, imperialism and terror. Césaire said:
Yes, it would be worthwhile to study … the steps taken by Hitler and Hitlerism and to reveal to the very distinguished, very humanistic, very Christian bourgeois of 20th century (Europe) that … he has a Hitler inside him, that Hitler inhabits him, that Hitler is his demon, that if he rails against him, he is being inconsistent, and that what he cannot forgive Hitler for is not the crime in itself , the crime against man, it is not the humiliation of man as such, it is the crime against the white man, the humiliation of the white man, and the fact that he applied colonialist procedures to Europe which until then had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India and the blacks of Africa.
Lan Gen Bah sent the following message and asked that it be incorporated into this talk:
The cold-war division between the Soviet-Block and „the West” continued the colonial period into the late 20th century, allowing white culture, whether Slavic or Aryan or Anglo Saxon or Gaul to divide and imperialise the third world, as the struggles in South America, Nicaragua, Cuba, Vietnam and Afghanistan demonstrate. Colour continues to be the foremost emblem of domination.
Now, under Essentialisation, any suffering inflicted upon the masses, or perpetrated by the majority or hegemonic population on minorities during the insurgency and consolidation period, are legitimized as simply the latest chapter in a long narrative of „the people” and their struggle to survive and build a nation.
In the US the battles over eugenics resurfaced recently. In a review of Murray and Hernstein´s The Bell Curve, Richard Lynn, an influential proponent of eugenics, stated:
… the black underclass is growing in numbers, partly as a result of high fertility and partly through immigration … . One of the major divisions will be between those who are sufficiently intelligent to work and an underclass lacking the requisite intelligence. The underclass will turn more and more to crime because it has little to lose … There is one thing the underclass is good at, and that is producing children. These children tend to inherit their parents´ poor intelligence and adopt their sociopathic lifestyle, reproducing the cycle of deprivation from generation to generation. (Lynn, 1994)
Lynn is voicing a view which has been in place for at least two centuries now in the United States, Europe and Australia. It is the colonial view brought forward into the late 20th century. Essentialized ideology becomes bound up with real-politic and with the mythic heroic struggles of victory and defeat in the society. The insurgent ideology must be rooted in the cultural institutions of the family, law, government, religion, science, art and daily life. Academics are generally brought in at this point by the new ruling class to rewrite history, re-write ethnicity and class relations, linguistically essentializing or grounding the new power relations. The insurgent ideology must at this point be transformed into essential ground and disappear from view to retain its potency. This brings us to the stage of Enculturation or Cultural Propaganda.
Propaganda at this stage, is no longer directional, issuing centrifugally from the centers of power, but is multi-directional, spreading rhizomically through the grass-roots, as the performance of power becomes indistinguishable from the performance of daily life.
Propaganda merges with the culture that has spawned it and which it in turn has spawned. The populace begins to discipline itself. The teeth masticate the tongue. New structures of class, ethnicity and political ideology, drafted by academics during the Essentialization phase, are now transmitted to the next generation through the media and the educational system. But education is part of a larger modernist social initiative, which comes under the broader heading of social engineering. It is in their shared modernist ideals for an engineered social context that education, politics and art find each other as strange bedfellows in the 20th century.
The concept of art as social engineering was theorized in 1917 by Alexei Gastev, a leading artist in the Proletarian Culture group and was later adopted by Stalin. Gastev believed in the artist as an engineer of material structures and of the human psyche as well. The architect-social engineer channeled the populace with the construction of offices and flats in accordance with constructivist principles. The artist-engineer developed systems to control ethnic and ideological diversity, and redirected the libidinal impulses of civil society with public spectacles, art and film. And most important, the artist-engineers designed and constructed the party. The party functioned in the body politic as the capillaries; neither heart, nor head but those endings where the blood of government doctrine, ideology, policy and sentiment was carried to the outermost appendages of the body-politic. In the words of the Constructivist Group in 1921: „The collective art of the present day is the construction of life.”
Shortly after WW II, the U. S. military-industrial complex realised that it required an advance-information processing apparatus, to create the conditions necessary for the smooth, uninterrupted increase of global capital. Now you might think I am referring to the World Bank and the IMF. I could be, but first we must turn to the activities of the cultural avant-garde, those who have laid the cultural foundation that makes the work of the IMF possible. Social engineering on a global scale.
I’m referring to the CIA … the Central Intelligence Agency, which Lee and Lan view as the apotheosis of the enlightenment ideal of individual ‘agency’ transposed to the state. And, indeed, the CIA has been in the forefront of American artistic development since the 1950’s when the agency formed a propaganda alliance with major museums and American industrialists and colonial capitalists, such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon, Getty and others.
The expropriation and display of 3rd World cultural artifacts in American museums, went hand-in-hand with the extraction of raw materials from 3rd world geographies to fuel American factories, and required the establishment of well-equipped security forces in those countries to maintain a stable environment for American investments. As proclaimed by General Maxwell Taylor: „The lesson of Vietnam was that we were too late in recognizing the extent of the subversive threat. Every young, emerging country must be constantly on alert, watching for those symptoms which, if allowed to develop unrestrained, may grow into a disastrous situation. We have learned the need for a strong police force and a strong police intelligence organization to assist in identifying … the symptoms of an incipient subversive situation.”
Corporations and government joined to fund a flock of propaganda and surveillance agencies involved in trade and espionage. A divided Berlin was the hot focus for these agencies. It was part of a national policy of cultural-propaganda that began with the Monroe Doctrine and moved into high gear during the presidency of Teddy Roosevelt.
The enlightenment ideals of freedom and the self-made man were conflated to form a singular ideology of the self-determining state, with a manifest destiny to lead the world into the bright future of laissez-faire capitalism and democracy.
When this angry man confronted me in Bangkok, during the democracy riots of 1992, I realised that US policies during the Sarit and Plaek regimes had led inexorably to the army turning their M-16s on the people that night in front of the Royal Hotel in Bangkok. A week before, Afro-Americans had rioted in Los Angeles over the verdict of the Rodney King trial, revealing that American policies abroad were related to American policies at home.
These policies included the establishment of the Museum of Modern Art in New York by the Rockefellers in 1939. A number of MOMA’s administrators and directors also worked with the US. Office of Strategic Affairs, and the CIA. The Museum of Modern Art and the CIA worked together to organize foreign exhibitions of American art, and the avant-garde helped promote the American Way of Life abroad, an effort that merged with Eisenhower’s Cold War „psychological warfare” project and Kennedy’s anti-communism agenda. The idea was to produce a cultural model based on the image of individual freedom, economic advancement and a comfortable consumerist lifestyle, known as „the American Way of Life” to counter the Soviet image of collectivism and personal sacrifice for the well-being of the State.
In the words of one senator, „If other people understood us, they would like us, and if they liked us, they would do what we wanted them to do.”
The working class and middle class in Europe and Asia-Pacific posed little resistance to US propaganda initiatives, but the intelligensia had to be won over, and this required resources and a strategy. Such agencies as South East Asian Treaty Organization, the US Information Agency, the Fulbright Foundation, the Peace Corps, the University of Hawaii East -West Center, the Asia Council and the Asia Society were used to reinforce adoption of America’s anti-communist agenda by transmitting developmental humanism to the intellectual elite of strategically significant countries.
But since the end of the cold war, the type of work produced by American avant-garde artists was viewed suspiciously by both the US congress and our new conservative allies, the emerging capitalist states in Asia, Eastern Europe, South America and Africa.
As the Minister of Information and the Arts in Singapore put it in 1994: (The government) … „is concerned that new art forms such as performance art and forum theatre – which have no script and encourage spontaneous participation – pose dangers to public order, security and decency … “
The conservative Congress in the US. agrees. Avant-garde art, particularly feminist art, gay art, art from the political left, and performance art on the surface do not appear to be good propaganda for the American Way of Life. But, in fact, the Method and PIM demonstrate that performance art can effectively transmit the very values of global laissez-fare capitalism that our most conservative allies endorse.
Performance Art can transmit the tried and true colonial ideo-logy of „progress through reform” … specifically the reformation of those traditions in society that hinder the globalisation of the economy.
But, let’s be frank: „progress through reform” also produced an information system built on Third World exploitation and the extravagant consumption of the earth’s resources, spawning a new information class. Now information itself has become the means of deployment. This „information class” is now globally distributed. It includes all of the people in this room. You are all part of an elite class of information consumers. The Werkleitz Gesellschaft is a centre for information dissemination and consumption.
Like it or not, with information consumption comes an ideological matrix that consciously or not, you have also consumed. And this matrix is protected by the shell of an advanced propaganda system, which brings us, finally, to the stage of Totalization.
In this stage, the body of the individuated and informed consumer becomes the commodity, as seen in the sitcom, docu-drama or ad of your choice.
Life itself became the propaganda tool of the 1950s and 1960s and is still so today. The proscenium stage, the frame, the canvas, the heroic icons of the New York school and Pop were no longer necessary, when life itself could do just as well. Happenings and Life-Like Art marked the moment of the Totalization of our ideological system. Totalized propaganda is the information-commodity spectacle of the body and the self as ideology.
The indoctrination system has reached a level of effectiveness that totalitarian regimes could never hope to attain. We no longer distinguish ourselves from our methods of propaganda. We are self-perfecting, self-cannibalizing propaganda agents.
In light of your policies of acquiescence and accommodation toward atrocities in the Balkans, military dictatorship in Burma, Chinese imperialism in Tibet, Malaysian logging and continued French and American colonialism in the Pacific, and your 25 year active financial support for Indonesian imperialism in East Timor, Acheh, Irian Jaya … all these actions indicate your fundamental agreement with even the most imperialist and neo-colonialist aspects of global capitalism.
We recognize in you a willing, (if critical and competitive) partner.
You have adopted the theology of the new millennium being forged today by cultural agents here and in other countries: manifesting and performing your lives as high level, individuated information purveyor/consumers, endlessly consuming the spectacle of your freedom to consume. The dialectic of industrial production has been reversed: no longer is your level of consumption determined by your capacity to produce. Now you are free to produce only at the level of your capacity to consume. This is the legacy of the IMF and the World Bank. Their initiatives in this region represent simply the latest realignment of errant economies with the matrix of global consummerism that has been under construction since the colonial era.
We are all agents for this new world culture, and we count you among our strongest partners, working together to perfect the dominant world ideology and its performative propaganda model, precisely by criticizing it … helping to create the future culture by criticizing the present Method. It is one of the paramount strengths of the system that we are not afraid to criticize the products of our „critical capitalism”. The more stinging your critique, the more transparent and effective our propaganda system becomes.
Gemeinsam in die Zukunft!
(Lee on video)
I am the latest in a series of Langenbach’s whipping boys. You see, Ray Langenbach loves to be publicly criticized – and he will assimilate and appropriate each and every criticism. So if you really want to get at him, you should shower him with approval – but I digress.
You will, I trust, run into Langenbach during the Performance Art Symposium. See if you can notice that he is dyslexic. His dyslexia, I should tell you, is not just a physical condition, but it is an ideological one. This explains the internal incoherencies in his discourse which you will surely notice. I trust you will become familiar with his performance/lecture.
Langenbach will discourse on the Performative Indoctrination Model – PIM. Leave it to a dyslexic to spell the acronym in code.
I, being less subtle, would have stated it as: the Performative Indoctrination Model of Propaganda – PIMP!
A pimp – that’s what Langenbach is, and that’s what you all are – you’re all a bunch of pimps, you’re all pimping for American cultural hegemony – and some of you don’t even know it. Or even if you know it, you’re in denial – Langenbach knowingly is.
Langenbach’s entire enterprise is to absolve himself of his imperialist, colonialist, racist, sexist guilt and complicity by trying to pass as a liberal performance artist. By constructing a totalised theory and methodology of performance as propaganda, Langenbach attempts to expose himself completely in order to hide what he truly is. Langenbach attempts to supersede the possibility of criticism by criticizing himself before anyone else, by anticipating any possible analysis and appropriating it before anyone else from outside his discourse can take such a position. His project of self-reflection, however, betrays an underlying hysteria of fitting exactly what he proclaims he is doing.
While he, rightly in my view, tries his utmost to totalize performance as propaganda, Langenbach – unable to expunge the irrelevant humanist liberalism of his upbringing – still clings on to a secret hope that he will not be able to do so.
What allows Langenbach to cling on to the last vestiges his liberalism is his dyslexia. Without this defect he would indeed believe that perfecting the Performative Indoctrination Model of Propaganda really is possible.
Ray Langenbach (SG), The Performative Indoctrination Model: Colonialism without tears, Performance Gaststätte ‘Zur Post’ in Tornitz, 1998
Text: Ray Langenbach, Briefe und Nachbemerkung: Lee Weng Choy