My Barbarian would have been outside. Their invading socialist society is already here. After the final soliloquy of the interior paramour, spread out in uncollectable diffraction like a shawl Walter Benjamin sees but can’t see because he can’t see through it, their c is the c of an unprecedented choir flowing nowhere, like a sea. Everywhere, too, in being uncollectable; uncountable thread, threat level all orange and pink, they’re a three without a three on it, innumerably dangerous and endearing. California kids, their non-western is a California dream. There was something in the way of things way out west in the seventies, the multiple remixed in a migrant color field. Brecht’s midnight forays into Compton, in search of didactic confusion, and Adorno’s itinerant cruising, riding sunset from Palisades to Echo Park, produced a range of critical fault lines rife with potential worrying of the Pacific rim’s seismic shifts. Kids from California came up in this golden statelessness. You could walk down any street and see Fassbinder wearing Sly’s pants against the omnipresent backdrop of a chokehold. Don’t call me nigger, whity. Make a movie on that shit that rides again, spilling out the studio onto Melrose, Os Mutantes playing “One O’clock Jump” at a bus stop in an orchard by a strip mall. This violent rimming of the Pacific is continual — a political-economy of antagonistic coming together that might be said to animate Marx beyond his knowing. See him grimly walk past a store called You’ve Got Bad Taste, knowing he’s got some work to do before he knows he can only know almost all. The conquest of Mexico undoes itself, under brutal duress, past the point of desire. The new California dream is a wall already buried in the sea. No prophylaxis can stem the tide of this irrational reproduction. Can’t nobody hold back no water when it wanna go. Such weakness takes the form of detention, which is a sign of erosion, when service takes the form of servants who refuse to serve, who go back to school, who see a geometry so inadequate to their geography that an insistent curvature must be applied, which takes the form of Afro-Iberian cabaret way out on the non-western western outskirts of Berlin, all up unter dem Abendland in decline, counterinstrumental rationality run amok onstage, bands forming in the forming of a pit on La Brea, slow, silent but deadly, moving imperceptibly toward a positionality it can’t help but go past or go around, because this is your outside inside, and it’s such a pretty mess, border field gone chromatic again and again from before the beginning. You can dance to it, clap your hands, but off, off harmony, off homily, unholy family. Come get up in this!
Fred Moten teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at New York University.