Panarticon: September 2003 & CiTR

[Panarticon: September 2003 & CiTR]

Panarticon is a column I began writing in 2001 for the longest-running, independent 'zine monthly in the Pacific NorthWest of North America (and possibly Canada if not the U.S.). Going strong since 1982, Discorder magazine is a publication of campus & community radio station CiTR. Although CiTR originally grew out of UBC's RadSoc (radio society), in the late '70s interest took hold in the burgeoning punk underground, overthrowing the station, running it high-power FM and hooking it into the '80s DiY energy .. the result was successful, producing several notable newscasters, DJs and journalists, including Nardwuar the Human Serviette, who still kicks around.

.. aside: a little bit on Nardwuar:

"Vancouver's foremost celebrity stalker, college radio host, rock 'n' roll frontman, and undeniably strange thirty-one-year-old man-child - shows up at concerts, he's often clad in retina-searing plaid leisure wear, complete with a tam."

Do check out Nardwuar's site. He's the only person ever to ask President Clinton which world leader has the biggest pants, and he dropped the bomb at APEC '97 by pigeonholing Prime Minister Jean Chretien on the issue of pepper-spray, producing the memorable quote: "Pepper, I put it on my plate." (He's also interviewed every celebrity possible, including memorable moments with Courtney Love (with and without Cobain), Beck, Jello Biafra, etc.). At the time--1997--I had just become involved with CiTR, on the Nooze team, which was forming early links with the activist communities that were to found Indymedia around Seattle WTO '99. The CiTR Nooze did 24/7 coverage of APEC, including live cell-phone-getting-pepper-sprayed-on-air type stuff that set the tone for the independent media to follow (and garnered us an award or two, and a job at the CBC for a few of us). Those were good times, and from then on I was involved with CiTR as President, getting funding, also doing my own turntablist/collage/radio-art shows etc.. But enough: I began writing for Discorder, on music, the underground in rave culture, local labels, reports on Mutek etc., and Panarticon survives to this day, even though I no longer live along the green shores of Vancouver ..

[The archives of Panarticon can be found here.]

Panarticon [PDF]
Discorder Magazine. #24 September 2003
tobias c. van Veen

’ÄúThe hordes will descend, black with the expectancy of bitter grief and brilliant triumph, thirsting for the reproduction of an image’Äîanywhere, on paper, a billboard, a radio or television’Äîseeing themselves infinitely reflected in a dizzying Borge’Äôs library’Äîwe will be much older’ÄîDiscorder aged seven years more, my friends, even if we exist & even if these words be remembered’Äîpaste these to your wall’Äîfor this is the past!’Äîcalling to you & asking to remember our robots: what ridiculous fantasies did we tread on the blacktopped garbage waste, EXPO Ernie in tow!’Äù ’ÄìLate night reminiscent & drunken words recorded @ ’Äúthe exiled’Äù poetry gathering, Montrˆ©al

24 Months of Panarticon
Indeed. Peak around that seven-year corner & see the perma-grin of the Olympics, while here at Panarticon Headquarters, we are celebrating our 24th missive: two years of mangled politics, littered art, and blasphemy through which no less than four Editors have crawled. Six years since I began writing for Discorder’Äîwhich means we are almost at the fulcrum between APEC and the Olympics. A balancing act, writing Panarticon is. Is this column monitored by Gov’Äôt Intelligence, I wonder? All politically engaged bodies ask these questions in moments of smoked paranoia, and even though CiTR reporters were granted the honour of CSIS records for their independent coverage of APEC ’Äô97, I queried myself today on the increasing potential for Free Speech in the light of Sherman Austin’Äôs imprisonment.

’ÄúYou Never Know Who's Listening’Äù
’ÄúSherman Austin, webmaster of, was sentenced today, August 4, 2003, to one year in federal prison, with three years of probation. Judge Wilson shocked the courtroom when he went against the recommendation of not only the prosecution, but the FBI and the Justice Department...’Äù-

Guilt by association is coming to the fore’Äîa vicious tactic’Äîand by this I mean that today one can be prosecuted with ’ÄúIntent to harm the State’Äù (conspiracy) by simply linking or hosting information that could be used for dangerous acts’Äîlike creating explosives. Which is what has happened to Sherman Austin. After an ’Äúunnamed poster’Äù uploaded information on explosive-making to Austin’Äôs political site,, an FBI squad team surrounded and raided Austin's house. From there it was all over (suspicions remain, of course, as to why the poster has not been pursued...). The issue is not, technically, linking or hosting such information’Äîbut rather conspiring to use with intent, for Google caches contain, host and link such information, as do libraries and (untouched) religious and conservative militias. While Austin's rhetorical intent is confrontational, there is no evidence that he was planning or even approving of violence wrought by explosives. In fact, his website is only a degree more direct than many other websites critiquing US policy and Government with an ear to considering alternate political systems’ÄîAustin's political system of choice being, not surprisingly, ’Äúanarchism’Äù (a debated alternative, in theory and application, on, and, as well as in PostModern Culture &

I don’Äôt support Austin’Äôs ’Äúanarchism,’Äù but it’Äôs something, and it remains startling if not ironically close to the politics of Thomas Jefferson, of ’ÄúDeclaration of Independence’Äù fame (which one poster described as ’Äúan anarchist rant’Äù’Äî& it is for these same reasons that I would be weary of ’Äúanarchism,’Äù for its acceptance of a liberal humanism, inheriting a legacy that requires some thought, including ’Äúliberation’Äù and other violent methodologies which, at their limit, mimic salvationary structures). But it shows that the very usage and mention of the word today’Äîanarchism’Äîis looping the circuits. The linking of ’ÄúTactical Post-Structural Anarchism’Äù to Hakim Bey as well as Foucault, Lyotard and Deleuze (see Michael Truscullo, PostModern Culture 13.3, will have a double-effect: of at once aligning poststructuralism with a movement often shunned by the Left and philosophy in general for its apparent naˆØvety, and at the same time, in the eyes of the Right, confirming their long-held suspicions that ’ÄúFrench Theory’Äù’Äîif not intellectuals and academic knowledge in general’Äîare The Enemy.

The resampling of ’Äúanarchism’Äù makes both Left and Right uneasy. The State has clearly acted with aggression against Austin. Noam Chomsky is unlikely to be arrested. But the upcoming generations of political thinkers and activists are. The waves of fear spread. So does the discussion of anarchism.

Austin’Äôs case also means another dangerous US legal precedent: that webmasters are responsible for all content on their websites. This would entail what an anonymous poster might write in the Comments field of a blog, for example, or in a guestbook. Are webmasters now responsible for what others say, think and write? And what of Google ads that rotate generated content? Is the webmaster now responsible for, simply, all volunteered, provided, generated, and linked information? What of RSS Feeds? How and where does a website end, in this situation, when hyperlinking has also proved to be a legal act of association?

For example, by even linking to in this journalistic context as well as in the mode of critique & citation, it could be claimed, under this unjust precedent, that one supports the site's aims of conspiratorial intent (’Äúintent’Äù which has been ’Äúproved’Äù in the same manner). And so on’Äîwhich leads us to (wrongly) conclude entire swaths of the Net, if not discourse in general, as matrices of culpability. Will we live to see the time when, in its final bid for supremacy, hegemonic power attempts to eradicate not only the presence of such information but all the participants and agents in and of its relay? It's not too fantastic to suggest that the current tactics of the RIAA’Äîin arresting MP3 filesharers accused of minor infractions of outdated copyright law’Äîare beginning to test the limits of such ’Äúoutreach’Äù tactics of State & Corporate interference to what what can be termed ’Äúinward’Äù aggression. These are the tactics of, to put it mildly, ’Äúshock & awe.’Äù

We resist with an openness to debate, to discussion, to writing-as-polylogue, to dropping the in-fighting and presenting a show of hands when needed (& we need this in the case of Austin). But beyond this frontline support, the issue at hand is one of knowledge itself: of the way we know things, citate things, learn things. This is not only about Austin, but about the power politics of information’Äî& thus our dreams & our realities.

posted. Sat - October 4, 2003 @ 03:38 PM           |