With the emergence of a privileged mediocrity, the innocent life became accessible to the masses. No longer was joe average part of a class striving to historical ends, e.g. revolution or fascism; enter a cold era, now devoid of passion. While outside, storms raged and change
rapidly followed change, one’s own life was left to grind to a halt.
Time, regardless of history, fashion, politics, sex and the media, was to take its due course. The innocent made no fuss, they despised it.
‘Come what may’. Average folks considered themselves cogs in some giant machine, and were proud to admit it. They saw to it the trains ran on schedule, and returned home at night in time for supper. Instead of the
old barriers, such as caste, sex, and religion, innocence introduced such bromidae as tolerance, openness, and harmony. Positivism become lifestyle. Positivist critique served the reconstruction of politics and culture. Good times were had, one was busily and dynamically
engaged and abundantly employed. Reigned a clear and simple view on reality. The innocent did not incorporate the Good, they just hadn’t a clue, though not lacking in standards. Crime was not for them.
Thus, they involuntarily became the objects of strategies of Good and Evil.
We are talking a life without drama, immediacy, ‘Entscheidung’. Things will never get hot. Nothing will ever have to be decided on. You don’t need to break out, in order to be just you. Rock ye no boats. The innocent thrive on everyday ritual, it’s what makes them happy.
A failing washing machine suffices to drive one up the wall: the bloody thing just has to function. The plight against materiality is that it’s always breaking down, failing, malfunctioning and generally behaving in
odd ways, and that it cannot be quietly replaced. Untrammeled consumption holds a promise that from now on, nothing will ever happen.
In this undisturbed existence, luxury becomes so natural it goes unnoticed. The innocent conscience is distinguished by its air of cramped grass-rootsiness, evoking a universe where personal irritations may explode without warning: time and again, streetlights, traffic jams and delays, bureaucratic hassles, bad weather, construction noises,
diseases, accidents, unexpected guests and ditto incidents, comprise an assault on innocent existence. Nonetheless, one is caught up in uncalled for events. This attitude of disturbance-deterrence, devoted
to job and professional affairs, excludes all risk and has relegated to the attainable the status of sole criterion. The summum of happiness consists of soft porn, moped, the new medium-priced car, one’s own house and mortgage, interesting hobbies, club life, kids, elaborate
birthdays of family members and friends, book clubs, christmas cards, cross-stitched embroideries, ikebana, tending the garden, clean clothes, the biosphere of pets and indoor plants, guinea pigs, the rabbit in the yard, the pigeons in the attic, holiday destinations,
dinners out, a bit of catching up or a general chat, Greenpeace membership or tele-adoption through Foster Parents Plan. This ideal of an unrippled and spotless life is characterized by an endearing pretence of being literally everybody’s goal. Innocence is under constant treatment from doctors, therapists, beauticians, accupuncturalists, and garage keepers. Innocence likes to be tinkered
at. It considers it its duty to further develop and, if necessary, re-educate. Courses are taken, adilkno sessions participated in, the theater, concert halls, expos visited, books read, directions to forest walks followed, and martial arts actively engaged in. Innocence as a
universal human right encompasses animals, plant life, architecture, landscapes and cultural expression. This is the condition under which the world may be ultimately salvaged: neither utopian nor fatalistic,
but smoothly functioning.
The advertisement campaigns accompanying this way of life, appeal to the childlike joy of having one’s accomplishments rewarded. Scenes of
smiling dads and mums who can afford just anything. A reference to the authoritarian circumstances under which the child is raised to maturity and learns to talk. Innocence presupposes the enclosed security of
family, school, company, and sports club. Under ‘infantile capitalism’ (Asada), desire is tempted by the offer of a secure existence. By displaying good behaviour, the ongoing changes in the vast world outside are assured not to cause any catastrophes. Rebellion is punished and virtually pointless. The household comprises a fortified
oasis. The others are just like you, and moving from one cell to another you get the impression that life is swell. Surprises are solely permissible within well acquainted constellations. The crush alone makes for a composed exception to the rule. In sex there may yet be
room for assaults, with all that may imply. This is why the personal ad is such an innocent medium, having nothing to do with prostitution or moral decline whatsoever. The highlight of innocent existence consists of wedding day, the happiest day of your life. Marriage is the one occasion in his/her existence on which joe/jill average may dress up in
all his/her decorations, and show themselves to the world at large. The ordering of the wedding gown, the white or red worn for all to see, the bouquet, the bridegroom’s shoes, the orchestra outside, the cabriolet
or carriage, the cheering onlookers, the historical wedding room, the moving clergyman’s speechlet, the standing ovation and gifts, the
dinner at some fashionable restaurant, the subsequent feast till the small hours: no trouble or expenses are spared to create a surroundings in which everybody ends up getting terribly pissed, yet never severely
disgracing themselves. A day to remember in horror for the rest of your life, yet forever impossible to forget, a wound in your life, a mental tattoo ruthlessly inflicted by family members. Millions of couples shack up forever, just so they won’t have to cope with this. The pressure lies in the fact that there is no option but for the whole thing to proceed smoothly, so that even if it does, any fun that might
have been there is definitely out. The greater misery the night before, the bigger joy come wedding night. Afterwards, it’s safe havens forever.
As innocence to a substantial degree consists of defence, it cannot remain neutral under the continuous outside threat facing it (thieves, rapists, hackers, counterfeiters, the incestuous, psychopaths, renegades, bacteria, missiles, toxic clouds, aliens, etc.). Neither can it summon any childlike curiosity concerning events in the outside
world. Innocence’s protective coating mirrors any threat posed by its environment, thus causing it to take on an aura of organisation. The mafia, youth gangs, criminal conspirators, sects, drug cartels, banditry, pirates, are all thought to be after mediocrity’s naivit.
They’re omnipresent spooks. Before you know you may be involved, guilty of, or victimised by, fraud. Innocence, desperate to turn its head, to pretend that nothing’s the matter, threatens to succumb. Ignorance may
prove fatal, a more practical strategy consists of localising and channeling attacks. Hand out to each individual an electronic guarantee
of innocence and sooner or later any felon will end up in some specialist jail. In fact, innocence shouldn’t need any legitimisation, all this registration and surveillance merely causes it to lose its ura. Everyone is a potential illegal immigrant; even though the cntrary be proven, one remains a risk factor. At the present phase, ecape in anonymity becomes daily more dangerous and undesirable.
Neutrality thus appears a chosen isolation, the final outcome of which is grotesque exclusion. Those who aren’t thoroughly on line can make no
appeals to organised innocence’s compassion.
Organised innocence is obsessed with Evil, gazing at and dissecting it, categorizing and exposing it, in order to finally bypass it altogether. Innocence owes its existence to its seeming opposite. One cannot confess innocence, for every confession must needs be one of guilt, any
gesture a false pose pertaining to goodness itself. Everybody is informed to start with, everyone knows all about the next person and there’s a silent agreement that some things are best left unsaid. The innocent are discreet and do not interfere with certain hidden domains
(of power, of lust, of death). No boundary violations here. Holidays may offer some compensation, but everything has its season. Next of kin are those causing maximum annoyance. They are parsimonious neighbours,
noisy kids, funny couples. First annoyances are quickly made emblems, forever there to fall back on. The others are scrutinized distrustingly, a form of surveillance which it is impossible to sanctionize since there no longer exists any common intercourse defining a norm. Normality can no longer define any aberration. Only drug related nuisance, streetwalkers’ districts and cribs, travellers’
sites and refugees’ centers may now temporarily unite citizens in mobs, for fear of declining property values. This neighbourhood resistance is
not ideologically motivated, one simply never gets down to the point of formulation of transferable ideas. The neighbours are doing model
airplanes, one self preferring Pierre Boulez, what room is left for any exchange? There is more to separate us than mere garden fences.
Therefore, too, accusals of racism or discrimination are off the mark here. There isn’t any moral order to deteriorate into bigotry.
Stereotypes get blurred. Noone knows what a Jew might look like, or what distinguishes Turks from Moroccans (‘All Turks go by the name of Ali’). The other’s features don’t stick, because one has no sense of
identity oneself. So much for pc advertising, public information campaigns, even cookbook recipes. Multiculturalist society is a clash
of featureless citizens and the heirs to identities. There is a severe misunderstanding with the Innocent concerning the Other come from afar.
There is a great readiness to accept the concept of differing cultures.
They’re assumed to function in the same type of isolation as ours. Who would wish to visit upon another a dull life like our own, culminating
as it does in likewise padded solitude? Tolerance means envy of the other’s simplicity. Friday rounds are not considered backward (as were
once the strictly Reformed), but as proof of a devotion and consistency no longer available to oneself. The suburbs are polytheistic: everything is believed in. There is more than what’s been taught you at school – but what? Seeking, one has found, but anxiety remains as to
what more is gonna show up. Gurus, healing stones, skyward apparitions, voodoo, and encounters all slip past, without one having ever a chance of sharing these experiences. For a moment, one gets the impression
that there’s quite a bit going on, that the surrounding world is full of deep acquaintances, of promises and optimistic prospects. Before long, one finds oneself alone with all the acquired experiential cross-country attributes, the textbooks, perfumed oils, the dandy windbreaker the two of us bought together remember, the empty personal
organizer and holiday pictures’ albums. What macro-social guiding principle may dissolve all this weeny human suffering, will resolve our confusion? Where are they, the builders of this new state of affairs, amidst and around us? The refugee, as a cultural carrier, may prove
prophetic. Ultimately, it is they who reintroduce to us our exiled spirituality, so sought after in the West.
Innocence may be lost through committing murder, participating in a little S&M, joining a bikers’ club, opting for art, going under cover, yet the underworld of entertainment offers no consolation. One final option much in vogue consists of defecting to the war or genocide.
There can, however, be no refuge from the conglomerate and its diktata. The Mountain Bike, T-shirt, Olilly clothing, compu games, graffiti, bumper sticker, spoiler, cap, sloppy casual wear, hair gel, are all the ‘objets nomades’ of Jacques Attali’s Europe heading for a stylised
uniformity. Innocence cannot be negated, or compensated for, by its opposite. The one thing it can’t stand is party poopers. This process of decomposition within normality offers no alternative and puts up no fight, nor even does it make a point. Through it, innocence is exhausted. One cannot be sprite and happy all day, forever tearing
asunder the grime by constructive thinking. Innocence is not in danger of being wiped out by either revolution or reaction. It can only wither, go under in poverty, slowly vanish out of sight, as though meant to waste away. Grounded love affairs are resolved by ordering a
dumpster in which one’s accumulated innocence is disposed of, in order to make a cleaner, wilder start after interior redecoration procedures.
A generation before, the politicization of the private managed to get some innocence out the front door, but it’s regrouped with a vengeance and now has grunge rockers, generation X’ists, trance freaks and other
youth categories all searching in vain for some firm footing they can react against in some other format than that of fashion or the media, innocence’s latest organisational modi. Government itself is now the most outspoken anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-fascist, anti-homelessness, and generally anti- anything the well-intended
insurrectionist are liable to oppose. The one thing left for innocent younger generations to vent their anger, are all forms of organised innocence itself. Abundant material for grounding an enormous social movement, to start working at innumerable separate issues, in order to
discover a common grounds in all those disparate little divisions.
Boycott insurance companies, raid those self-assured infant clothings’ shops, torch them redundant gift stores – we’ve a consumers’ paradise
to destroy! But let’s not get excited. We’ll have innocence fade away, see it quiet down, tell you what, we’ll not even mention it.
ADILKNO, the foundation for the Advancement of Illegal Knowledge
(a.k.a. BILWET), Amsterdam, 1995
translated from the Dutch @ Sakhra Bey la-Bey/Ziekend Zoeltjes
Produkties, Amsterdam, 1995