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Nicolas Holzheu
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Variations in Normative Violence (I)
"Sunny [artist, writer and activist Sunaura Taylor] recalls that, as a child, when she tried to move without her wheelchair, people told her she looked like a monkey. Her challenge to the socially constructed norms of movement led to her threatened expulsion from the category of the human. This prompts her to muse that wheelchairs may serve the interests of the able-bodied as much as the disabled: they contain the movements of the disabled in ways that make them acceptable." (my emphasis)
- Kathryn Abrams, Performing Interdependence: Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor in the Examined Life, 21 Colum. J. Gender & L. 72 (2011). Available at:
- Self-portrait by Sunaura Taylor

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Reading an article in Die Welt where the author argues against an entitlement of same-sex couples for (civil-)marriage substantiating his opinion by an appeal to natural law calling a relationship that doesn't allow for offspring as defective in the first place ergo against nature and therefor unmoral and consequently forfeiting any claim to legal recognition. 
This chain of reasoning is brittle on more then one link, providing with a plethora of targets. Alas I was primarily reminded of John Stuart Mill's deliberations on the fallaciousness of the concept of a moral (prescriptive) Natural Law itself as summarized in H.L.A. Hart's The Concept of Law:

"It is in this way that John Stuart Mill dealt with Montesquieu, who in the first chapter of the Esprit des Lois naively inquires why it is that, while inanimate things such as the stars and also animals obey 'the law of their nature', man does not do so but falls into sin. This, Mill thought, revealed the perennial confusion between laws which formulate the course or regularities of nature, and laws which require men to behave in certain ways. The former, which can be discovered by observation and reasoning, may be called 'descriptive' and it is for the scientist thus to discover them; the latter cannot be so established, for they are not statements or descriptions of facts, but are 'prescriptions' or demands that men shall behave in certain ways. The answer therefore to Montesquieu's question is simple: prescriptive laws may be broken and yet remain laws, because that merely means that human beings do not do what they are told to do; but it is meaningless to say of the laws of nature, discovered by science, either that they can or cannot be broken. If the stars behave in ways contrary to the scientific laws which purport to describe their regular movements, these are not broken but they lose their title to be called 'laws' and must be reformulated."

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C. in Munich/Germany, January 2014 
© Photo by Nicolas Holzheu

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#Gas   #Syria   #Poetry  
Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

- Wilfred Owen

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Animated Photo

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The call for 'positive images' of minorities (of class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity) debunked as trojan horses of subjectivation. 
By promising symbolic legitimacy on the condition of subjugation to the Weltanschauung (worldview) of the hegemonic group disciplinary power operates as a "grid of intelligibility of the social order".

Marlon Riggs speaking about his documentary film Color Adjustment (1992):

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- Photo Gundula Schulze Eldowy
- Text Jean Améry in 'Über das Altern. Revolte und Resignation' 

"Aber jetzt ist es zu spät; der Sinn seines Lebens, ein Unsinn, wenn er's genau besieht, ist schon aufgesammelt in ihm als Zeitmasse, das Wirkliche hat das Mögliche von einst überspült, die Substanz, mit der es zu tun hat, ist nicht mehr knetbar.
Er bereut, daß er saumselig war. Nun hat er schon versäumt, und wo er hinblickt, steht auf der Wand: Nie wieder. Vielleicht liegt diese Reue und dieses »Nie wieder«, dessen man gewiß ist, ohne freilich so ganz und vorbehaltlos daran glauben zu wollen, am Urgrund der Todesangst, da doch der Tod uns nicht nur aus dem Raum nimmt, sondern auch die in uns geschichtete Zeit zerstört, so daß nicht einmal die in all ihrer Hoffnungslosigkeit doch noch stets eine Spur absurder Hoffnung enthaltende Reue mehr bestehen kann und mit der Zeit auch die Sehnsucht nach ihrer Umkehrung verschwinden muß." 

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Achmed K. asked me for a cigarette and the where-abouts of his friend. He is one the one-hundred-something patients of the mental asylum located till early January at the contested Aleppo airport that has been evacuated since twice. First to a former cancer hospital in Hanano District where they got bombed in the first night after their arrival and then on to an undisclosed location. 
Achmed K.'s friend got killed two days before by mortar shrapnel... 
 - Aleppo, Syria - 10th of January 2013
© Photos by Nicolas Holzheu

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Walking the wasteland of contested territories in urban Aleppo, accompanying a sniper to his frontline position, I - as in other occasions before - asked myself whether I'm right now in the cross-hair of a gunsight and if I got hit, would there be anything between now and ultimate oblivion... 
"Und doch lag [das Grauen] wieder so greifbar, so bleiern schwer auf den Sinnen, wenn eine verlassene Schar unter dem Gewölbe der Nacht durch unbekanntes Gelände kreuzte, fern und näher von eisernen Wuchten umdröhnt. Entriß sich dann plötzlich in ihrer Mitte ein Glutstrahl der Erde, so trieb ein Schrei von erschütternder Erkenntnis ins Unendliche. Dann mochte den Hirnen im letzten Feuer der dunkle Vorhang des Grauens jäh emporgerauscht sein, doch was dahinter auf der Lauer lag, das konnte der erstarrte Mund nicht mehr verkünden ."  - Ernst Jünger in 'Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis' (1926)

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Destination ALEPPO/SYRIA once more... departure scheduled for 31.12

"Ich geh nochmals raus... zu den Menschen die nicht wissen dass Stanley [Greene's] Katze Hunger hat...."

(Photo by me in Tareeq al Bab/Aleppo, Syria - 11th of November 2012)
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