Sous Rature


Rachel Levitsky


from The Story of My Accident is Ours

Public Space and Privasphere

I do not think that this world in which we found ourselves nameless, tagged, and most often allowed to physically survive, constitutes that thing which before its obsolescence as a concept was the thing that was thought of as society in the way that society implied a particular sort of (non- or semi-commercial) relationship which existed nearly but not quite squarely outside the operations of the State, with more of its weight being between and among its members, so as to be a thing simultaneously enforced upon us and generated from amongst us, a special contradiction of public and private invented by the then new ruling class before they were completely ruling and when they were installing and maneuvering toward improved conditions in which to be the ruling class, conditions which they advertised as being improved conditions for society, as a whole.

Unlike us, that infant ruling class of yesteryear, which is the mature ruling class presiding over the world in which we live, possessed and adamantly defined their ‘personalities’, which they thought of as something if not novel then particular, as the public presentation of their desire which took the place of their desire, or so they then proclaimed in a provocatively confident yet demure display.

It came to be that this society of desire-masked-as-personality, which we,  the adequately trained, prepared to live as the middle class, were to be seeking as our own personality and for which we were to deny ourselves our own desires and our own personalities, elided its very own self, and became, if not something new, a thing which privileged an apparent sameness that came from neither the process of consensus nor by default revealed through an ex post facto exposition of the then active discourse, in which we who were certain we were supposed to be like that but didn’t know why, and they who felt that because they understood why they had to be like that, were able to go on with our habit of fervent activity and not have a palpable impact on each other despite adjacency, proximity and other means of being close to a thing but not part of it.

It is in the fact that the once not-yet-completely ruling class had been able to be first the somewhat ruling class and later the ruling class completely that we learned, we could see--no, those of us who came before us could see and come to know, and therefore help us to see and come to know--that a something could come to be where something else was and furthermore that this replacing thing could shift and budge the shape of the rest of things until the shape of things was completely transformed into an exaggerated, or diminutive, or diminished version of the shape of the once-new- thing once it was no longer new. It is ironically in this fact that we found ourselves and found a place for ourselves in the vast and nearly completely unmanageable spaces between us (it had been as though we were on different banks of a deep, wide river which we wanted to cross and had been used to crossing before the bridges had been blown up to protect us so that in order to cross we would need to walk for miles along that same river to get to a bridge still standing and in doing so find ourselves in a dangerous confrontation with or in the employ of those who had come here to protect us or those who had also happened upon them and come to be in their employ and therefore be required to go after us), and  found in these spaces that we belonged neither to the corporate body, nor to any of the small, more digestible parts from which it gained its most agreeable profit, nor to any anachronistic notion of a “society” at large, nor to any of the specific spheres which were thought to derive from this, The Large, always growing ever larger, as a whole.

The Large, As a Whole

In part, it was the hungrily accruing pushiness (should I just say aggressivity?),  of the very very large that forced us into imagining the spheres, and the idea of a separate sphere, as so much promise into which we were willing to stake our entire project. (As though it were a soft ground that stood as something real and actual beneath us, but we should have known better, for we knew that the ground beneath us could not be trusted.) We imagined them as the sole vehicle for emancipation from all the terrible requirements coming out from The Large, which were accumulating in us as they were building rapidly, isometrically, and exponentially in front of us. (This was later revealed as a naïve pursuit but not completely naïve.) Henceforth in front of us (we are both its culprits and witnesses) there exploded a radical proliferation, an epidemic of sphere spawning. Suddenly, there were lots and lots of them and lots of kinds of them, distinct and transparent, or hidden underground with protective devices pointing upward above-ground, or made of a tinted glass and occupying space in the middle of the street and often they were loud. Loudest were those above surveilling (and were not only categorically spheres but spheric as well) all the other ones and sometimes chasing them into each other so that the ones with devices pointed could get into and see what was going on in the ones that were tinted and taking up some small but contested spot in the middle of the blacktop.

Spheres that were spacious, beautiful, ergonomically designed, protected, covered in white, and less disturbed by the constant irritant of invasive blue force (perhaps we are equally distracted by flies flying around our faces only momentarily and very lightly landing upon our forehead and nose, never giving us quite enough time to grow accustomed to the sensation of them sitting there, and as gravely disturbed by the ants who crawl over the cheeks of our asses burning and itching our most sensitive areas while we are trying to enjoy the renovated thick mowed grass that looks so inviting but in which we are therefore categorically unable to relax) than were the dark glass and metal spheres (whose interiors were warm, constructed of animal skins and recovered wood pieces molded into a convex shape, which, we might say in this context, manifested an inverted sphere. These woods were dear after being recovered by expert and now long dead underwater divers on dangerous missions into large and shockingly well-preserved ships that had sunk long long ago in frightfully frigid waters, so cold they were colder than the temperature of freezing). The elegant white spheres inhabited by mostly elegant bodies had windows that were clear and clean and so were also perhaps ironically, to the naked eye, the more easily apparent even transparent spheres and spheres which experienced their own special kind of being pointed and shot at which in fact resulted in them publicly sometimes going to prison, or at the very least, jail, like so many of us did and still do. This became confusing to us who try to keep track of it all because we’d marked the making of spheres as a tactic for building a space we’d thought we could ultimately use to build a movement of liberation, or as I’m told the next movement of liberation. (Apparently, before us, there had been others.) Only now can we comprehend spheres as having become the central component of a large aggressive campaign for the internment of all space. Spheres were and in fact still are everywhere and nowhere exactly in the public sphere which can no longer be, nor breathe, now that its surface has been covered and its air filled by the desperate, even manic, birthing of spheres everywhere and everywhere apparent and less apparent, which also makes for us an increasingly populated world.