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Humorous form of protest: Disproportionate use of intelligence in Gezi Park's Resistance

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Humorous form of protest: Disproportionate use of intelligence in Gezi Park's Resistance
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    1 Humorous form of protest: Disproportionate use of intelligence in Gezi Park’s Resistance   Perrin Öğün   Emre, Barış  Çoban, Gülüm Şener   “ Every joke is a tiny revolution ”  (George Orwell). Carnival and Madness: Looking at New Social Movements from a Dis-torted Perspective Unlike conventional ones, new social movements have paved the way for the development of horizontal and participatory politics disrupting au- thority’s  network of relationships. Accordingly, since the main goal is to crit-icise the authority, it has been aimed to create a social movement through which authority’s network of relationships is revealed in every field and dis-abled by use of humour, as well. Process of taking the authority out of social life with the help of non-violent protests and humour has historically been in a carnivalesque form as carnivals are the rituals used to remind people the fact that authorities do not exist in real life or they only exist as tools for the societies. It follows that carnivals are the events which show that authorities are vacuous and temporary within the social context by criticising them us-ing profanity and humour. A carnivalesque lifestyle is an unusual sense of the world, i.e. “world upside down”  (Bakhtin 2002, p. 238). This inversion is the subversion of authority and recovering of the society in a limited time and space. Throughout the carnival, the society having felt the pressure of the authority is now free; the carnival proves that fantasy of utopian free-dom still lives in the social memory. Carnival becomes a way consisting of steps taken out of the authority’s boundaries and produces the liberal te x-ture of the social culture 1 . Carnival is like a derailed train, a moment of free-dom lived until the train is railed again, and though being short and tempo-rary, it enables one to step out of the road walked incessantly, see the world from a different point of view, and reach out the space lying beyond the standpoint imposed to the society. A short-lived break still leaves an impres-sive mark in both social consciousness and social unconsciousness. It proves that fiction of a world belonging exclusively to the society itself and totally apart from the authority’s fiction is possible. Carnival wi th its all contents in- itially humiliates, demolishes and ridicules the authority’s fiction. In its own fiction, everyone is equal and social sphere becomes the sphere of freedom since the power and authority are grabbed for a short periof of time and it is time to enjoy this power-grab. Carnival is the criticism of the time being, the social moment being lived. As a game, carnival is the process of criticism and liberation during which all rules are shattered and cancelled, and all the borders are defined by the participants (performers). The abovementioned criticism is a creative activity revealing another prospective world, a world in which the society will be able to fulfil itself in a more equal and free way. Carnival is a game in which the routine is broken and time is re-fictionalized 2 . Carnival is a free playground having no authority and it is a practice of criticism showing that another world apart from the present one is possible 3 . Society’s idea of future freedom is reproduced with the carnival, which means carnival is a contingent reproduction. Creative destruction is 1 Carnival was "the temporary suspension of the official system with all its bans and hierarchical obstacles. For a short time, life stepped out of its routine, legitimate and sanctified flow and took a step in the sphere of utopian freedom. Fantastic nature and utopian radicalism of the images srcinating from the feast atmosphere were enhanced by the very shortness and temporariness o f this freedom.” (Bakhtin 2002, p. 109). 2   Carnival “tended to reflect the time game itself, the game both kil ls and gives birth by re-shaping the old in the new and letting nothing eternalize itself… What is highlighted is the future; utopian features are  always contained in rituals and images of the celebrating joy of the public." (Bakhtin 2002, p. 102). 3  "All the children playing games create a world for themselves in the games they play; more correctly, they place the objects of the world they live in inside a new order they create accordin g to their own wishes.” (Freud 2001, p. 104).    2 completed with creative re-structuring. However, the re-structured world is a living utopia in which social equity and freedom exist. This living utopia re-fers to a communal order; therefore, communal experiences are the realised forms of utopias. Madness is a carnival. It is a game with no authority and subject, an in-version, subversion and break-down 4 . Madness is the living form of a dual opposition; it is an automatic and living carnival. Thus, madness which is clearly realising and living the thing the individual has so far suppressed has an alarming aspect as well; the madman discloses everything which are indi-rectly attempted to be made invisible though being visible, and reveals hy-pocrisy of both the authority and society 5 . Madness is a mirror; it cannot see itself and is drowned in its own secrecy. The madman reflects the shortcom-ings of the society with his smile and disturbs its peace through the things it reflects 6 . Madness refers to a new language and reflects its own break-down into this language. The language it uses is a heterodox one which has an eso-teric structure. The madman has a deviant and sharp tongue which has a de-structive sense of humour. He neither recognizes the authority nor its boundaries, and uses his stark-naked language freed from all covers of the society. In this context, the madman’s discourse is alarming for both the au-thority and the society; however, as it is indispensable for social liberation, the society cannot relinquish this language even though it fears and avoids its sarcastic and humiliating form. The madman’s frightfulness comes from its nudity yet this freed-from-authority nudity of the society is fascinating as it has a carnivalesque aspect; therefore, the madman is carnival which is alive. Today, participants of new social movements are like knights mirroring the society as the madmen do. Protesters do not differ from madmen at all; they indifferently do the things a “normal person” would abstain and reck-lessly embark on one adventure after another. These adventures include re-sisting the armed police, throwing Stones to them, trying to stop police ve-hicles by standing in front of or lying under them, planting oneself unpro-tected in front of water cannons, plastic bullets and tear gas projectiles, etc. The protester does what the madman did in the past; s/he both targets the authority with his/her esoteric, deviant and humorous discourse, under-mines its discourse, and reveals with his/her protests that the authority is desperate and pathetic, and that it is actually against the society in every step it takes which means the authority is guilty. Participants of the carnival are subjects refusing to join the authority’s game besides rejecting it s men- tality. Accordingly, participants of the carnival are called “mad” by the a u-thority. Madness is a prerequisite for a carnivalesque struggle. The madman turns the struggle into a game and keeps playing this game in a way that the authority cannot deal with. Cultural activism or breaking down the authority’s discourse  Grindon n otes that today’s cultural activists associate their protests mainly with Dadaism, Surrealism and Avant-gardism, and with the stance of Situationists who have played a crucial role in May ’68 Riots. This is because the emphasis made by the social movements on alienating the authority’s discourse through displacement, dissonance, fracture, détournement and various combinations thereof comes from the said art movements (2010, p. 4 Madness "plays on the entirety of that ambiguous texture beginning anew all the time on the surfaces of the objects and in the glittering of daylight, in all image plays, and in hesitation of the reality and illusion, tearing apart again each time, and both uniting and separating the reality and image. It hides and reveals, it tells the lie and the truth; it is both dark and light. "(Foucault 1995,p.75). 5  "Madness holds a primitive power of revelation: it is such a revelation that the imaginary is the reality here, thin surface of illusion leads to undeniable depths, and momentary glittering of the image makes the world fall prey to the alarming figures eternalized in their own nights..." (Foucault 1995, p. 55). 6  "My smile targets the people lacking commonsense whom I sentenced to pay for their bad deeds, ungenerousity, hunger, wrath, traps they set, malice and jealousy" (Hippocrates 1997, p. 28).    3 21). Thompson states that anti-globalization movements from 1999 to 2003 were fuelled by 19th century Romantic Movement and, at the same time, he notes that activists made their protests and oppositions through tactical in-novations by way of horizontal organization and cultural interventions (2010, p. 35). Kershaw calls the protest styles of today’s social movements “radical performance” since this performance  is not outside but inside the hegemonic power system and practices, and functions through plays in, and manipulation of, the authority’s rituals, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary  and terminology (transferred by Boyle 2010, p. 201). The authority may appropriate the discourse of dissidents by occupying their discursive sphere, empty the dissident discourse by procuring the ideo-logical structures which are affiliates of the authority but pretend to be dis-sidents to produce dissident discourses, or marginalize the dissident dis-course by expelling it from the social communication sphere. However, it can never totally seize the discursive sphere since, within the framework of its dialectic, discourse is dynamic and cannot be completely fixed or con-fined. Ideological struggle over the discursive sphere goes on incessantly. Discursive sphere is not a monistic area in which only a single ideology is voiced; on the contrary, it is a dynamic and dialectic area in which breaks and displacements occur and sewing and articulation processes are inces-santly re-structured. Analyzing the relationship between discourse and ide-ology is at the same time to analyze the processes of understanding the dy-namics of current social life and justifying the social practices. Social dis-course bears the traces of the current period’s production style, production relationships, ideology and other cultural practices, thus analyzing the social discourse is to analyze the social. Discourse struggle against the authority has various forms. New dis-course propositions are made against the authority’s discourse and an alte r-native discourse is created which, at the same time, targets the opponent discourse and try to undermine it. Another method is to manipulate and in-vert the opponent discourse. The best example of discourse inversion is the practice of cultural jamming as explained in Tim Jordan's book titled “Acti v- ist” (2004) . The aim of creating a new dissident discourse through manipula-tion of the hegemonic cultural discourse, political discourse, commercials and advertisements, and elements of popular culture which criticises all of them is to enable an alternative reading socially; however, it may be sug-gested that this may give negative results as it paves the way for populariza-tion and reproduction of these discourses by making them more visible -for example, “Anti Capitalista” written using the fonts of the global beverage registered trademark “Coca Cola”.  As a political subversion and a cultural protest tactic, culture jamming enables activists to access the means of communication, improves and strengthens solidarity for social change, and protesters poking holes in the surrounding official ideology are considered public opinion saboteurs in both corporate and government messages ( Irzık  2010, pp.138-144). At the same time, social movements strive to find and provide living spaces beyond the outreach of the authority. This struggle is carried out by finding and cre-ating alternative time and places within the city. Urban struggles which have a carnivalesque style exceed the space and time boundaries set by the au-thority and reject such regulations. During Gezi Movement which broke out as a movement against urban renewal, modifications by the resisters to the city’s signs (Contradiction in Taksim for Construction in Taksim, Tomalı  Hilmi Street for Tunalı  Hilmi Street, etc.) and symbols ( “gezikondu”  –  modified ver- sion of “gecekondu” which means “shanty”  –    for the resisters’ tents , image of Resist Kuğulu Park , etc.) are the examples of intervention to the space whil e the slogan “ Ankara için direniş   vakti” (Time for Ankara to resist) is an example of intervention to time. Time to resist has become the time to en-    4  joy, carnivalesque activity has filled the leisure time and resistance has been interlocked with joy and leisure time when the time was targeted. Re-sistance has become the activity where laughter spread to everyone. Carni-val which has a libertarian reference within the Bakhtinian context is the ac-tivity of social discharge occurring in a limited time during which replace-ment, subversion and displacement take place. Functions of humour in social movements Carnival is a reaction to all kinds of restrictions, confinements and hier-archical structure. Carnival basically pokes fun at the authority, ridicules it, uses the destructive force of laughter, humiliates everything representing the authority and declares war against the authority using discourse and visual violence in an aestheticised way. This humour-based war against the authority is carried out on the basis of legitimate self-defence against all vis-ible and invisible violence exerted by the authority. Guerrilla style and course of action of the humour and its structure containing and transcend-ing different social classes and educational levels give all the groups and in-dividuals having a problem with the authority ‘the  opportunity to be in-volved with the carnivalesque struggle in different ways and at different lev-els. ’  Unlike the traditional anti-authority protest types and the approaches centralizing certain groups and decentralizing the others, humour, within its individualism-based emphasis, makes it possible to create a more inclusive and open struggle space. Everybody participating in the carnival is equal, no one is the authority; anyone trying to be the authority immediately becomes the target of the humour maintaining the dynamism incessantly and is ejected from the game, thus carnival spews out the authority in any case. Carnival is a game; however, rules of this freedom-based game are set and continually changed by the participants thereof. In her book “Humour and Social Protest” (2007) , Marjolein’ T. Hart u n-derlines that humour is a powerful tool for social movements. In her com-pilatory work she compared European protests of different periods, she de-fines the common features of the humour used in resistance discourse and stresses out its ponderousness in dissident discourse. From the questions such as in which cases humour is used, how it strengthen the opposition and to what degree it is effective, she concludes a chronology from past to pre-sent. ‘   ‘  During carnivals and similar festive periods former ranks and hierarchies disappeared. All participants to the carnival were considered equal and free and familiar contacts were allowed between different social classes and positions. These ritual set-tings stressed the all-human, all-joyous characteristics of life and opened the way for playful and undefined relationships ’   (Hart 2007, p. 4) . Skipping to 1960s, humour was used by the students in pacifist protests in order to draw media’s attention, and disarm the authorities and lead them to dialectic field. As a communication strategy, humour makes its tar-get more open to persuasion by shattering its defence mechanisms. Refut-ing joke-blended criticism with rational arguments becomes harder; consci-entious statements addressing the feelings may tear down the official boundaries. Therefore, humour is called “weapon of the weak” (Hart 2001, p. 8). Hart notes that humour needs three factors in order to be effective. The-se three factors are framing, collective identity and emotions. The first one points out the need for a framework within which the dissidents- not always ideological- make their ‘case’ clear , and objectify the parties and grounds of this case. Gathering around tangible grounds and campaign slogans which is a characteristic of new social movements plays a role in mobilization of the    5 activists as well. Hart states that framing plays a role in creating relation-ships with social activity which are built on self-interest. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), drawing attention to the meaning represented by its initials, stresses out the tempting contradiction its movement added to the humorous discourse. It calls the identity of mother, which is a reference to the ins tinct to protect one’s children, into protest ing drunk drivers acting ir-responsibly and out of control. She claims that thanks to this successful framing, masses will not be indifferent and consider mobilization. What framing points out is that discourse surpasses the content . Collective identi-ty which is the second factor is consistent with the nature of new social movements. What distinguishes “us” from “them” is that the movement can gather repertoires of action, forms of organization, strategies, other meth-ods it uses and differences around a collective identity. All in all, as laughing is an activity caused by contradictions and differences, differences develop a criticism practice suitable for themselves. Artun Avcı  notes that laughing dis-rupts the reproduction of authority’s network of relationships . The sancti-fied subject is taken out of its context and objectified. ‘  Laughing at a respected thing enables the laughing party to  free from the thing which is the source of fear and get rid of the oppressive burden of the past. According to Hannah Ar-endt, the biggest enemy of the authority is laughter  ’   (trans- ferred by  Avcı, Birikim  Dergisi, Arendt 1997, p. 51). Authority is sustained by respect. Respect means being serious, sober, balanced and solemn. Making fun of the respect is to damage ‘ public scenar-io ’  of the authority. Worldly and unworldly authorities have no sense of hu-mour. Each laughter results in a disharmony. This disharmony is the disrup-tion of the harmony and unity of Holy/divine cosmos. Each laughter pre-vents the individual from reaching the “Universal Intelligence” organizing the Cosmos in Plato’s idea. “Voltaire’s laughter was  more destructive than Rousseau’s weeping” (Herzen, transferred by Bakhtin, 2001, p. 112). Kolonel Klepto, one of the founders of CIRCA Movement, notes the following about irony : ‘ The police are comfortable with confrontational resistance but faced with the art of ridicule, they don’t know how to respond’  (transferred by Boyle 2010, pp. 207-208). On the other hand, while nearly mocking analogies and grotesque ap- proaches which are not ‘ politi cally correct’  are good ways of attracting mar-ginal groups, they cause the reproduction of previously existing prejudices among the society as well. Particularly in the sense of humour created by Af-ro-Americans through their ethnic (collective) identity, messages are con-ducted using a discourse having the characteristics of both their own lan- guage and White People’s language, and a style which is arrogant and rebu k-ing (Hart 2007, pp. 10-11). Dick Gregory, an Afro-American comedian using this style, predicts to release the tension in question and enable the proba-ble integration to take place in the future by using jokes. As a matter of fact, this collective identity is cre ated around the attribution “plunderer” (çapu l-cu). Discussing emotions as the third and last factor, Hart (2007) notes that social aspect of the power of emotions is neglected by the sociologists. She stresses out that emotions cannot be reduced only to individual psychology and underlines their relationship with collective cultural meanings, social networks and collective identities. She exemplifies the role of such emotions as fear, rage, excitement and alienation in building social networks with the fact that Black and LGBT marches are called Pride Parades . So much so that slogans such as “ Polis simit sat, onurlu yaşa”   which means “Police, sell d o- nuts and live honourably” are created within this framework ). Melucci (1988) who agrees that emotions have a substantial role in initiation of so-cial movements refers to the necessity of studying social movement’s ‘ emo-tional investment ’ in mobilization . Apart from the humour created during
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