Sequel’s paper is cranking

I have been doing some research on the Matrix franchise as it is my prime example of a series of ‘sequels’ that are not so much the the mimetic reproduction of a series of attributes, but a series of repeated differences that make each its own example or simulation. This includes the three movies the Animatrix series and the videogame.

Anyway, I have been reading various fansites, and I found this cracker Q&A.
Whoever wrote this obviously has not read Jean Baudrillards Simulation and Simulacra (which appears in the first film as an ironic ‘false’ copy for Neo to hide his computer disks). This is some of the funniest shit I have ever read, obviously it was written by Dubya’s speech writer:

Q: Why does the Architect talk funny?
A: All the other inhabitants of the Matrix that we’ve met so far (Agents, Seraph, The Oracle, etc) may be programs, but they interact regularly with humans. They need to be able to communicate with normal people on a regular basis, and their programming reflects that in the way they speak. The Architect is a machine that never has to communicate directly with humans, therefore he tends to talk like a machine would when talking with other machines. He uses big words, overly complicated sentences, and purely logical expressions of his message – not exactly the way people talk to each other.

Team America, ‘fuck yeah’ or ‘get fucked’?

US Narcissism: ‘Pimp the World

The real puppets in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s latest effort are the right and left of politics.

The flick is a comical polemic (or polemical comedy??) that allegedly sticks the boot in to the patriotic neo-cons and F.A.G liberals. Instead it sticks the boot into politics as an institution.

“The right just likes to think the left is stupid and the left just likes to think the right is evil. [laughs]”
– Trey Parker http://movieweb.com/news/news.php?id=5406

Something of a narcissistic take on what it is to be an ‘American’ (rather, US citizen, for those north and south non-US Americans), Trey and Matt seem to have decided that it is more funny to poke fun at the current situation, as Trey says, “where everyone hates us [the US]” than really asking, why does everyone hate the US? Maybe the film makers do not even realise the utter narcissism of their own film. When asked “What should people take away from watching it?” Matt says, “I want people to take away the strees of making it.” (Comments found in the ‘Meaning’ video here: http://www.cinema.com/article/item.phtml?ID=3058>)

The world is seen as a terrain of pussies and assholes that the global dick of the US goes around fucking and fucking up. I really wonder how much ‘quality time’ the duo have spent in any other country? The utterly US-centric world view indicates less about the state of the world and the role of the US in it, than it does about the sorry state of politics in the US. It is shocking that in the most powerful nation citizens are not forced to vote, and therefore not forced to engage in a meaningful way with US politics.

The rhetoric coming out the US at the moment seems like they want everyone to be ‘free’ and without ‘terror’, but to me it all seems like they don’t just want to ‘Pimp my ride’, but ‘Pimp the World’. Who would be the pimps that set up all the pussies and assholes for the US-penis to fuck? Trey and Matt!! With their comedic-penis that hunts for every popular culture nook and political cranny to stick it in and fuck up. Good work guys, you bunch of fuckers.

I understand the film as evidence of the US nation’s Hollywood complex, you know, the stories about whinging, bitching actors who think they are ‘special’ and ‘important’. Just because the US is the most powerful nation in the world does not mean it is the ‘best’ or ‘special’ nation. Stone and Parker attack the actors of the hypocritical Hollywood left (which is understandable!), but they fail to realise (maybe?) they have set up the US to have all the qualities of the arrogant, stupid, self-consumed, and stereotypical Hollywood ‘star’ of the global stage. What is absent from all the debates about the US in any discussion I have read is discussion about the complete absence of US humility. What the fuck has happened to that?

The terror attacks in 9/11 on the WTC were taken to be shock to the US nation. Some of the rhetoric I have heard is that it is like Pearl Harbour, where a slumbering giant awakes and really (to use the rhetoric of Team America) ‘fucks all the pussies and assholes in the world’.

What the terror attacks in 9/11 should have done is make the US more humble, not in the face of the power of terrorists, but in the face of its own power. Instead it did the opposite.

Three years later, now we have a couple of clowns who think this utter lack of humility is funny. It is not funny. Now we live in a global situation where the US has forgotten its own power, not because it is not aware of it, but because it has become totally subsumed by it. Now we live in a world where the future, for some, is terrifying and horrible.

It is not without some irony that politico-puppetry and puppet politicality of Team America got hammer(head)ed by the vacuous Shark’s Tale at the box office and the high school football drama Friday Night Lights kicked Team America down to third place on the box office rankings. It speaks volumes about the priorities of ‘Americans’: politics comes after entertainment. Why? Because they are ‘Team America’ and such dicks don’t have to worry about politics, just fucking things up.

For box office figures:
http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Movies/10/17/box.office.reut/index.html

On the pussy, dick, and asshole rhetoric of Team America:

“There are three kinds of people in this world,” Johnston says. “Dicks, assholes and pussies. We’re dicks, and the rest of the world are pussies. But sometimes an asshole comes along and wants to shit all over everyone, and the only kind of person who can fuck an asshole is a dick, because pussies are just an inch away from being assholes themselves.” (Diplomatically, Johnston concedes, “Sometimes dicks fuck assholes at inappropriate times, and they need pussies to guide them in the right direction.”)
– from: http://www.corporatemofo.com/stories/041015teamamerica.htm

Ode to my beautiful Samantha…

We met at a franchised coffee house,
During breaks in our working days.
Hiding behind a book and an academic long black,
She wanted peace and quiet,
Which I disrupted with a clumsy interjection.

“Post-colonial theory, eh?”
[PAUSE]
[BLUSH]

To which she replied with a look of who-is-this-boy?

Exchanges of over-the-counter coffees,
And over the counter accounts
That she thought of dubious accountability.
I had previously regailed her with stories,
Of drunken toga parties, illicit late-night trists,
And later-night drag racing in the back streets of Fremantle.

Proud and proper in my service industry,
service-station, ready-to-serve-you uniform,
She replied with a look that said out-of-service;
I must have smelt like cigarettes, petrol,
And seven hours of a ten hour shift completed.

[COUGH]
“I have a few readings about identity that I won’t need anymore.”

A mere curiousity or a monstrosity?
Delicate questions running through her delicate person.
We caught each other’s eye,
As if we were criminal to the other’s policing.
Love isn’t an interpellation,
But a feedback loop of depthless intensity,
A polarity between a tension tensing.

“Oh.”
[BLINK]

Word. She spoke. ‘Oh’ means nothing,
Besides as an order-word, ordering the event,
To modulate, like the soft flutter in a nervous voice,
From an embarrassing soliloquy,
To a becoming-dialogue of fragile futurity.

And without intending to,
Without helping it,
Without knowing how,
We still speak,
To each other’s heart.

Work: The Seminar Strikes Back, or Mad Max’s Look of Love

Last night we watched Mad Max. According to IMDb Mad Max was (or is?) banned in Sweden, so maybe we had an illicit screening. How exciting… What was very annoying it that we had to fuck around with DVD players and computers to get the bloody thing to play. Wrong region encoding, you see. Perhaps DVD region encoding is one of the best examples of how the powers that be use encryption (coding) and then allow the coding to distribute the encrypted text in an organised network (overcoding) so as to stratify a particular flow of intensities (or the event-potential of the Mad Max media) and territorialise the milieu of media transmission and circulation to produce the molar aggregate of some fucking annoying multinational media company.

Below is an extract of my work-in-progress seminar presentation of my research I am to give on the 27th of October.

I use Mad Max in my thesis as it has two scenes that dipict a common practice of modified-car enthusiasts when socilising in carparks or other similar spaces. The scenes are recognisably similar in some respects but are also very different. The first scene is where Max and the audience are first introduced to the last of the V8 Interceptors. The second scene is where Max and family are ‘trucking around’ and stop at a wrecking yard work shop to get a flat tire fixed. Both scenes represent in slightly different ways a ritualised practice of display that is organised around the static car. It is one of the ‘carpark’ activities that I have documented in my fieldwork. It can be described as the ritual unsheathing of the ‘object’ of technophilic desire. Although we call the car an ‘object’ in the sense of a self contained knot of material time-space, but it is also a dynamic topology of intensities. Our eyes are drawn to particular attributes of the car, our ears listen for particular mechanical sounds, and our bodies feel the raucaus throb of a lumpy cam. These attributes combined can be called a constellation of intensities. (Or, what do you remember when you remember a particular car?)

The unfolding of the display event is normally complimented by a running narrative that discourses the given attributes and places them in a subcultural hierarchy of importance. In both the scenes in Mad Max it are the mechanics that offer the narrative. The path that the narrative takes is not produced by them, they only enunciate it. Again it are the intensities that belong to the car that guide or organise the discursive space into a narrative. Particular phrases and words are exchanged and punctuate the negotiated process of discovery.

Particular attributes are more important than others. This is not because they can be placed in a subcultural hierarchy, the subcultural hierarchy of importance is performed retroactively to capture some sense of the intensities that belong to the car’s attributes. The importance of any given attribute is determined by what that attribute does or what it can do. Modification is the process of instensifying a car’s given mass-manufactured attributes. It is a minor science. Follow the traits of a car, tease them out, experiment, play with them, etc. The salt lake racers offer the best example of this. They experiment with speed. It is a qualitatively different speed to the paranoid movements of a displaced capitalist body. This is my biggest problem with Sarah Thornton’s conception of subcultural capital. What Thornton describe’s as subcultural capital is the skill and ability to retroactively narrate or indicate the constellation of intensites that belong to a given event. The importance of the skill to narrate or indicate the intensities is secondary to the intensities themselves. The ‘delusion’ that some people have about the intensities of their own enunciations is normally called arrogance (self love); people fall in love, or enter into a becoming, with their own intensities, normally of their own voice. People are ‘full of themselves’.

One of the important roles of the media within the subculture is to highlight certain attributes of the car with regularity. Importantly, it is a regularity and not a regulation (See Massumi’s Parables of the Virtual, 82). The precise attributes of that generate an interest are not known before hand; they have to be investigated and uncovered during the display event. Human actors of the event investigate the car following the gradients in its topology of intensities. The media of modified-car culture has a number of set positionings that place the car and the human actors in a relative space. The distribution of actors in space, including the car and the enthusiasts, is not determined by the media. The media, like the actors, organises its representations around the intensities that belong to the car.

The media of modified-car culture is a form of pornography. In pornography, as Gilles Deleuze explains, “everything is reduced to a few imperatives (do this, do that) followed by obscene descriptions” (1989: 17). Deleuze contrasts pornography with what he calls pornology, which is “aimed above all at confronting language with its own limits, with what is in a sense a ‘non-language’ (violence that does not speak, eroticism that remains unspoken)” (Deleuze 1989: 22). Of course Deleuze was talking about written texts. Car movies do not belong to a pornology, they are a genre of technophilic pornography. This is not because of the object of representation. My use of the term ‘pornography’ is determined more by the inductive mode of representation than what is actually represented. Subcultural media does not instruct on how to look at or engage with a car, it induces a flow (attention) on a number of levels. It is a way of training attention. In other words, before asking what does something mean, I am asking what and how is the something worthy of meaning?

The cross over from ‘normative’ human-centric porn and car enthusiast porn finds its purest expression in classic magazines like Street & Strip, where half naked women are sprawled across drag cars and heavily modified street cars. In this magazine and other texts like it, for example the legendary Pirelli Calendar, some questions that may be asked are: What exactly is being objectified? Is someone meant to be sexually stimulated? And, asking on of the traditional media and film studies questions, where are you meant to look? At the women organized into classic ‘welcoming’ pornographic stances (bent over, spread eagled, etc)? Or the cars with eruptions of shimmering chrome, brightly coloured paint work, and racing seats that ‘hug’ you?

Daniel Miller has talked about the need to address the ‘humanity of the car’ (Miller, Car Cultures, 2001), and most researchers have approached various aspects of modified-car culture looking for the humanity of the culture in various ways, at least implicitly. One of the problems I have with the current literature is exactly this approach. By looking for the humanity in a culture that has nonhuman actors, which, in some circumstances, dominate the culture is to be overly reductive. One of the serious problem is with regards to the one-sided humanist notions of gender. I certainly do not disagree with the work of, for example, Linley Walker, who examined the masculinity of what she called working class car culture in western Sydney. My problem is the reduction of the engagement between the human and the nonhuman to always rely on humanist terms and human frames of reference is highly problematic. I think it is an impossible situation to seriously begin with the assumption that because of the obvious homosocial groupings and overtly masculine cultural formations of modified-car culture that the engagement between the car and the enthusiast can be reduced to frame of reference that relies only on human genderings. There is a desperate need to address the nonhuman aspects of the culture.

One of the reasons for showing the scene from Mad Max where max firsts meets the Interceptor is that it resonates with Burt Bacharach’s lyrics about the breathtaking experience (or event) of the look of love.

The look of love
Is in your eyes
A look your smile can’t disguise
The look of love
It’s saying so much more
Than words could every say
And what my heart has heard,
Well, it takes my breath away.

Although Mel Gibson is acting, it is possible to get a grasp of the way his heart ‘hears’ something that takes his breath away. Well what does his heart ‘hear’? I shall quote from another song:

When I get high,
I get high on speed,
A top fuel funny car,
Is a drug for me,
My heart, my heart,
Kickstart my heart.

As well as great home videos, the cock-rock band Motley Crue manages to capture the drug like effect and sometimes violent excitement of the rhythmic mechanical agitation of the human body in their 1989 song “Kickstart my Heart”. The last of the V8 interceptors kickstarts Mad Max’s masculine heart. The engagement between the masculine body of Max and the nonhuman intensities of the Interceptor should not be reduced to simplistic humanist accounts of gender, for the technoeroticism implied in this scene is something else, something that is between the human body and the multiplicity of the nonhuman. So… what is a nonhuman pornography?

Jacques Derrida dies at the age of 74

I feel sad.

Here are some links:

http://www.news24.com/News24/Technology/News/0,,2-13-1443_1602574,00.html

http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/europe/10/09/obit.derrida.reut/index.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3729844.stm

It reminds me of the joke in the movie Adaptation.

Donald Kaufman: Listen, I need a cool way to kill people. Don’t worry, for my script.
Charlie Kaufman: I don’t know that kind of stuff.
Donald Kaufman: Oh, come on, man, please? You’re the genius.
Charlie Kaufman: Here you go. The killer’s a literature professor. He cuts off little chunks from his victims’ bodies until they die. He calls himself “the deconstructionist”.