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  • I wrote this in Kyoto, while studying streets and their festivals.

    I start by imagining

    I imagine a street, lined with buildings, buildings filled with businesses, and in back and above, apartments filled with people and consumer electronics. The street is also peopled. Apartment dwellers depart for the day, enter the street, produce a flow. Retail shops open and receive customers, offices fill their desks, small factories clatter with machinery. Machinery.

    Machinery.

    The street is a conducting machine. It conducts electricity, relays messages, brings water, carries away shit. The street codes linear interactions. A code for the sidewalks: nods of the head, ritual greetings, facework among neighbors. A code for the gutter: spittings and hosings and the rakings of dust, the night vomitorium, logjams of cigarette butts. A code for the vehicles: keep to the left, keep moving, do not interrupt the flow. Parking is not permitted.

    Parking is not permitted.

    The street codes with lights: shop signs, street lamps, headlights and taillights. And it codes with darkness. The entrance to the love hotel covered by a flat stone. It codes with sound. Open windows betray the organs beneath the skin. It codes with smell: fumes and perfumes, grates that vent wet-doggy farts. Restaurant doors swing open and release their own codes. The street codes segmentally. Distinctions are made. The doorways announce individuated desires within.


    The street is a desiring machine. It creates desires it offers to diminish. It arouses excitement in order to quell it through commodity fetish exchange. It overcodes as it sells itself. It is a zero sum desiring machine. The street is a panoptic machine. It watches for strangers, monitors their passing, silently wishing them on. It listens for disorder, for the window broken, for running steps. It has a thousand eyes and ears. The office help depart. The apartment dwellers return. The street hails its own. It inscribes their pathways. They find food and drink, they enter back into its full body. The shops close. The traffic stops. In the darkness behind its walls the street is alive with private whisperings and squirmings.


    The street breaks down. Repairs are made. A building is built. A person dies. The street remains.

    The street remains.

    The street is a schizoid machine. One morning the flow of the street is severed. The codes are decoded. The shops stay closed. The openings are shut. The full body has no organs, no eyes. In the street the crowd carries the heavy object, made light by drinking and laughter, and made heavy again by intention and desire. The people are decoded, nearly naked, laughing. Wet skin touches wet skin.


    The crowd is a desiring machine.
    It desires to be. . . a crowd. The object carries the crowd. It knocks down the street lamp. There is more laughter. The music is percussive, explosive. Dances break out. A new code is established, a measure, a timing machine measuring in ritual the interval until the time of recoding.


    There is no hurry. People run anyhow. No one is watching. The street has no eyes.

    The street has no eyes.

    The sidewalk furnishes cheap food, the buyers eat it on the street, the crowd, weary and enthralled, make another pass up the darkened street. In the darkness someone's hand presses on the back, the shoulder, the thigh. The lanterns decode the faces into grins and glances. The bottle is emptied again. The timing machine jumpstarts the recoding machine. The object is put away and abandoned. The crowd returns behind the walls.


    In the morning the street is lined with buildings, buildings filled with businesses and, in back and above, apartments filled with people and consumer electronics. The street is peopled. Apartment dwellers leave for the day and then return. Retail shops open and receive customers, offices fill their desks, small factories clatter with machinery. Machinery. The street is a machine.

    The Festivity Machine


    Machines do. The festival is a machine that does festivity. Festivity is done. Why? If I say that it feeds the desiring machines that are its participants, the question is simply transferred to this second machine. Why desire?

    Why desire?

    Tell us about desire. (Why do you want to know? Is this your desire?) Desire is better than its absence. That really is the ground, although it is a bland pronouncement. More is better than less, up is better than down. Desire is better than its lack. A person without desires has no person-ality. A person whose desires have been overcoded by the socius has no person-ality. The capitalist socius represses the desiring machine, substituting the fetishized commodity machine.


    The festival creates an arena for the desiring machine. For the crowd desire, the collective body desire, the belonging longing, the inside affect. Festivity opens up an arena desiring machines can use, but only with skill and practice. Festivity requires repetition. You get good at it or you lose it.

    You get good at it or you lose it.

    The festival is a machine for producing desiring machines. This is its meta-task. It must produce the desiring machines that it serves. It overcodes for its own reproduction. Every year it breaks down and is rebuilt, and in rebuilding the festival the desiring machines learn to desire.


    The festival is a game machine. It manufactures its field, its equipment and its rules. It trains its players, empowers its officials. It sets its time to start, and programs the timing machine for its own breakdown. The game happens in this space, in the street, at this time. The players know what to do. They cannot say what they know, but the doing gets done. No one is watching but the game machine. Next year it must be different, and it must be the same. The game machine recodes its own future.

    The game machine recodes its own future.

    The game machine breaks down the street machine, interrupting its flow. A place opens up, a back region emerges, a new flow is produced. Squirming desires poke through the skin of the full body and emerge naked in this place.


    The game machine produces a desire that is not a lack. A desire already full and still hungry. A desire that approaches the limits of death and animality. The display is uncontrolled. The desiring machine has no inscribing device. It does have a memory device. The game is remembered. The desires are stored.

    The desires are stored

    The game machine is a political machine. The politics of festivity are those of unbridled affect and display. Grimaces and grins. What gets spoken of and shook up and pissed on cannot complain. The game has no leader. It decodes completely. The game is remembered. People will laugh.

    People will laugh

    In the morning the street is lined with buildings, buildings filled with businesses and, in back and above, apartments filled with people and consumer electronics. The street is peopled. Apartment dwellers leave for the day and then return. Retail shops open and receive customers, offices fill their desks, small factories clatter with machinery.


    Machinery.


    The street is a machine.


    The machine has a memory.


    Its memory is the festival.


    Bruce Caron,

    Kyoto, Japan 1994

    PHOTO Credit: Erich Scheinke
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