"With regards to Xenoboy post, I am not too comfortable with his dualism on resistance; for me, I don't necessary see co-optation and institutionalization of movements and "resistance" as "sell-outs"; it could be a transformation of individuals' or group's tactics to effect positive policy outcomes. However, that depends on institutional access; you have entry points for women and environmental rights groups in Singapore, whether you have access points for issues of democratization is debatable. Whether one adopts a "co-opted" strategy versus a "civil disobedience" strategy is very much a empirical question; how would we know which one really is better? What are the goals of the movement?"
The post in question refers to this entry. Sigh.
If you have noticed, there is this NIN album, Year Zero, which topped Technorati's music links for some time. NIN is an industrial band, a musical genre which is not very accessible to many people. As a matter of fact, NIN's most accessible song, Hurt, is commonly mistaken as a cover of a Johnny Cash song. Much like Bizarre Love Triangle is commonly mistaken to be written originally by Frente and covered by New Order.
There is something very interesting about NIN's latest album. It is an actualisation of a viral marketing strategy that was probably first popularised in Gibson's novel, Pattern Recognition. Year Zero came into existence when a fan found a URL printed on his NIN concert t-shirt. He typed the URL and the entire Year Zero narrative began. The narrative is deliciously simple : we are finding relics, in the form of mysterious websites and songs embedded in thumbdrives, from future scatter. In short, we are finding fragments of the future telling a story of a resistance movement in Year Zero. As these fragments mysteriously appear, their existence are spread virally through the Web. Fans start to scour cyberspace, concert venues for these hidden fragments which provide clues to where the next song can be found. Then, download sites are set up and the songs are spread like illegal music downloads except that in this case, its perfectly legal. It is the basis of the marketing strategy, the basis of the narrative of a future resistance. As more songs and more sites are found, the story of Year Zero is gradually pieced together.
In his recent anniversary concert, Dick Lee, slipped in a segment subverting that iconic national song, Count on Me Singapore. Among the numerous positive reactions, there were an equal number expressing surprise that Dick Lee could be so "political". This is a strange reaction as it assumes that there is no precedent. But closer to reality is that such subversion of the national-istic narrative is happening daily. For a long time. At varying degrees. By many Singaporeans. The only difference now is that such acts of delicious subversion can be spread. No longer is Dick Lee's "political" moment confined to those laughing uproariously at his concert and subsequently forgotten, unrecorded. Today, now, that moment is part of the national song. Its meaning has shifted. And rightly so. We can now apprehend the "political" and perhaps achieve the understanding that the "political" is part and parcel of every single Singaporean. The walls are becoming increasingly porous. Stories and counter-narratives are slipping through the nets of the censors. If the broadcast remains opaque, then the casting needs to be viralised; more accurately, it is Deleuze and Gauttari's rhizomatic resistance.
But resistance is more than the medium of transmission.
In his recent admission on the inevitable decriminalising of homosexuality, LKY was probably unconscious of the irony in his statement on gays being creative and excellent in writing and the arts. They are creative and excellent mostly because they were forced into the margins of Singapore where their existence could only find legitimacy in imagined communities. imagine space, imagined speech, imagined rights. They excel because they resist a system which illegalised them. Which orphanised them from the State. Their very existence is a resistance in Singapore. They are Agamben's desubjectified people, existing in a space, in a state where they can be "killed" with impunity. But their defiance, their indig-nation, their tragedy, hidden, embedded, alluded, in song, in story, in art, is for the simple dignity of existence in Singapore. Dignity of existence. And now their resistance is reduced by LKY into a routine economic practicality justifying the State's embrace.
The resistance of the Sg gay community needs closer examination. It is not an active resistance, the likes of PLU, while playing an important role, is one fragment of an array of resistance forms. It is not an underground resistance unlike what the mainstream media is constantly trying to portray with "undercover" exposes of gay clubs, wild parties.
But it is a resistance which burrows deep into the interstices of defining the meaning of Singaporean-ness. It is a resistance which contests the meaning of existing as a Singaporean. At its core, it is resistance by the very act of existence. Gays exist in Singapore with any other Singaporeans but paradoxically, in the definition of Singapore's social meaning, they cannot exist.
Remove the label "gay" from the preceding analysis and consider resistance as an individual. An individual defined as a Singaporean. Imagine if we could receive scatter from a future Singapore, Year Zero, what is the story?
And we end again with the same quote :
"In this world are the strong and the weak. The strong never yield to torture, and they go to Paradise' but what about those like myself who are born weak, those who when tortured and ordered to trample on the sacred image ...", "There are neither the strong nor the weak. Can anyone say that the weak do not suffer more than the strong?" -- Shusaku Endo, Silence