<body> Public Ad Campaign: On Destruction and Rebirth
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Destruction and Rebirth

I have wanted to write about destruction and rebirth for some time because my work is often seen as having unnecessary disregard for private property and a generally destructive motivation. Recently my computer died which I have used as an excuse for putting this task off longer, but while writing a paper arguing for a project proposal I have in the works, I came across some quotes which forced me to find a working internet connection and speak briefly on this topic. Enjoy.

In Jeff Ferrell's book, Tearing Down The Streets: Adventures in Urban Anarchy, he often refers to Michael Bakunin's quote "The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too." He uses it over and over again to frame the many illegal activities he chronicles in the book including graffiti, pirate radio, and critical mass gatherings. I wasn't sure how to use this quote until I found some other descriptions of destruction in Mikhail Bakhtin's writings.

Bakhtin talks about the medieval carnival and the "temporary suspension of all hierarchic distinctions and barriers among men and of certain norms and prohibitions of usual life." that was the trademark of medieval carnival celebrations. Rules governing behavior seemed to fly out the window at these events and any person or institution were fair game for scathing parody. In this atmosphere of open degradation, he argues that "an ideal and at the same time real type of communication, impossible in ordinary life, is established." Parody in an accepting and open environment like this was then creating channels of discussion where none were available before.

What was essentially accepted civil disobedience to him was a way of degrading things openly, but not without the degradation creating something in its path of destruction. "degradation digs a bodily grave for a new birth; it has not only a destructive, negative aspect, but also a regenerating one."

Seen within the context of the medieval carnival where critical discussion of important issues is acceptable without regard for power structure, destroying public advertising is merely an act of creation. The destruction is simply the tool I must use in order to facilitate the communication of my ideas and the creation of new understandings about our relationship to our shared public space.

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