david d'heilly on Wed, 31 Mar 1999 23:16:30 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> come on, insomnia, be a bastard

I think that it would be a real service to the readers of this list if
"insomnia," or someone, anyone, could explain the gap between how so many
of the comments that we see coming out of "developed" Serbia begin and end
with banal cynicism and clever gestures, and how these are responsible
positions taken against the fact (and it does seem reasonable to call it
fact at this point) that troops -- ostensibly protecting the interests of
civilised serbs like "insomnia" -- have been going from door to door
shooting people and cleansing entire towns for YEARS now? (please spare me
the bit about how this is all a lie created by the American military
industrial complex. That's Milosevic talking) And if the NATO aggression is
the equivalent of the "fascistic agression in 1941" (is "insomnia" 70 years
old? How does he know this? These phrases are so "media friendly," so
vague, so banal) then where does the Jugoslav army stand, conducting
campaigns of calculated slaughter and expulsion of whole ethnic groups over
the last several years?

Like David Bennahum, I was also in Beograd in December of 96, (doing one of
several journalistic tours of "independent media" in Serbia, Maecedonia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia,...) but while I saw the giddiness of
being part of tens of thousands walking the streets in protest, I also saw
that the three-fingered Serbian salute was their rallying call, and didn't
harbor much hope that Slobo was on the way out. It was street theater, a
decadence, not a change. Slobo was merely being called a "hick" by the
erudite cosmopolitans. The fatalistic, cynical urbanites were content to
let it end with that too, and Slobo knew it. He also knew that he would be
all the more heroic by having egg laid on his face by these infidels of the
fatherland. (Who were at the same time acknowledging that same fatherland
in their salutes) Once they were finished, spent, he could tighten his
grip, even stronger, which he did.
You could see in Veran Matic's eyes that he knew he was being set up. To
the extent that B92 was seen as being cosmopolitan, international and
elite, they could be marginalised. Luckily Veran, Sasa, Gordan and the rest
of the B92 were not merely infidels, they were bastards -- fatherless pups
without discernable lineage, no turnkey destiny, faithful to no-one, and it
kept them alive, kept them anomalystic, kept them pertinant. God, I'd hate
to be in their shoes now, with the noose closed so tight, and their options
so completely dismantled. They are bastards, after all. They have no
friends. Sadly, just as Slobo would have it, they were wrongly identified
with the cynical cosmopolitans, and therein made the ones that were
defined, in the aftermath of the protests, as being on the way out.

I guess the reason that I mention this is that I see now, in the
cathartically pathetic moanings of "insomnia," pieces of the same
cosmopolitan pathology. Serbia is short on bastards. Everybody's a football
hooligan, loyal to their local club. (Yes, there is a football hooligan
avant garde, but they are a great minority) Then as now, we see the urban
Serbs engaging in a necrophiliac frenzy, dancing on the corpses of their
own ideals, turning the death of all that they've worked for into an
aesthetic pleasure -- imploding, never denying the fundamental assumptions
that tie them to this destiny. Three fingers high in the air. "Only a serb
will save a serb." I just don't get what's so damned interesting about
living like that.

We're seeing a lot of messages from Serbs on this list. Yet, others with
net access, people like Rade at Radio Zid in Sarajevo, (never a man short
on opinions) or Zravko or any other of a number of people capable of making
valuable contributions to our understanding of the conflict are
astonishingly absent. I wonder why?
One reason we see so many messages from serbs is because they did so much
better under the present regime (they've got computers and telephone lines
and computer literacy, after all) than did the ethnic albanians, or anyone
else. We see postings from Serbians all over the net. Stuff just like
"insomnia's" little "greater serbia" shmaltz about the elegant protests of
their fine literature circles (175 years is not the oldest journal in the
world, insomnia, geez. Travel China or India a bit more, and listen to
Milosevic's propaganda machine a bit less!!) but were these urbane
aesthetic pleasures ever raised in defence of those in Kosovo? Vukovar?
Sarajevo? ...? Can you explain how this is a responsible, conscientious
position?  Of course it's not, and "insomnia's" closing comments about how
serbs represent family values whereas the "appalling" and "barbaric"
albanians' call for more strikes (can "insomnia" imagine the pain that must
lead to calling for increased strikes, even if it means sacrificing your
own family? That can not be an easy, cynically or lightly taken decision.
Animals *will* bite off their own legs or kill their children rather than
have them be captured, if they are frightened enough) show him to be
nationalist with time on our servers because, well, I'm not sure why. He's
probably got a cool haircut, reads Deleuze, listens to techno and
everything else that would place him in nettime. He's total urban elite.
Maybe it's just cool for us to receive messages from the war zone, I don't
know. But Wam Kat's diaries these are not. And he's not one of us. Unless
he decides to get a bit more multiplicit. How about it "insomnia"? Lose
some loyalties. Think for yourself. Drop two of those fingers and become a

Yes, the NATO air strikes were a decisive vote of no confidence in the
Yugoslavian left's capacity to affect meaningful change. The democracy that
they were/are/will be working towards was so slow in coming while the
Milosevic slaughterhouse was so quick. And now all of the good work that
they'd achieved has been betrayed. So gee, the Jugoslavian left has reasons
to be cynical. Slobo is stronger than ever. Once again, audacity has worked
to his advantage. He has once again repositioned the "other." Now only he
and his fascists remain to affect change, or sue for peace. But does that
mean that all we get to hear from so many of the Serbs on our list is
indulgence in this same morose thrill, of bland erudition fiddling while
Jugoslavia burns?

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