Blogtalk

Someone recently told me that I am photogenic. I think it was this peron’s way of paying me compliment. Although I am not too sure, because ugly babies pulling ugly faces while teenage-years-torturously dressed up as bugs are ‘photogenic’ enough to be the subject of calenders. Whatever. My mug is on the Blogtalk Downunder blog in a post notification of the flickr conference photo set. I have the rocktastic Daniel Boud to thank for capturing me at such a crucial moment of my presentation (and for introducing me to the expression “Rock out with your cock out”). If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this photo captures the thousand words I didn’t say and should have… Here is Glen trying to explain something with emphatic hand gestures, or that is what I must have been doing, because I certainly wasn’t doing it with my awesome use of non-spoken words. I should’ve had a back up band that punctuated my presentation with guitar solos or at least a drum solo or two. werWEEEeeEEEErrr. That would’ve made shit more exciting. Yeah, more on that below… But before you go down, here is Glen jovially grinning as if Daniel was doing something really funny like taking my photo. I think at the time I was trying to seduce someone that wasn’t there.

Anyway. I am funtabulously knackered. Three solid days of partying at night and reasonably intense intellectual efforts during the day. It reminds me of my time in Sweden… Hmm, I need to differentiate between being an intellectual in the pub with my mates and being the ‘rock and roll’ evental supplemental at an academic conference. Yeah, I learnt a lot from this conference and not all of it was about blogging.

 

Part of it was my reaction to the overwelming ‘functionalist’ approach of many of the papers. What do I mean by ‘functionalist’? Many of the papers were coming from an e-learning perspective and attempted to figure out how to use blogs in an educational context. A number of the people in the audience were commercial punters or representing commercial interests or there to extract some sort of commercial benefit from the presentations, which made me feel like someone had squirted lemon juice into my eyes and then used my red-eye tears to flavour their newspaper-wrapped, corner-shop-bought fish and chips. On the second day, as my train-commute reading material, I brought along a text Christian had brought up from Melbourne entitled Hatred of Capitalism to use like a kind of crucifix to vampires. Well… exactly like a crucifix to vampires. I am sure they are all lovely people, but they still want to make money by extracting the surplus value from someone else’s labour. Anyway, they carry problems with them from their respective areas, which is cool, you know, whatever, but it is not my thing. I wanted to figure out some aspects of what made ‘blogging’ problematic, or, at least, talk about some initial thoughts I have had along this vain. Yep.

Much needs to be said about the conference. At the moment I can’t be fucked. I guess I should write something about my catastrophic presentation. Indeed.

I wanted to exploit what I thought was a blogtastic genius idea. That is, I thought: because my conference paper emerged from a blog post, why not treat the mode of presentation in a similar way and attempt to replicate a blog post accordingly? I will tell you why not!

First of all, here is a list of three ‘should haves’:

1) I should have premised my talk with outlining what is good and bad about a blog post (and hence my paper and, in turn, my presentation). Instead, I simply stated that is what I was going to do. Bugger. Moral of this point: YOU NEED TO EXPLAIN THINGS, GLEN!!!!!

2) Realise before giving my paper that not everyone has a) read Deleuze, or b) has an interest in philosophy. Realising these self-evident facts during a presentation is not a good thing.

3) Prepare for a conference and not try to wing it with creative bullshit. I can speak fine to one or even 10 people in an informal setting, but there is something about getting plugged into what Jon McKenzie has called the ‘lectern-machine’ that makes me feel like I am meant to have a competence (bestowed by the lectern itself) I sometimes don’t think I have. Especially after realising point 2) above, so that any competence I do have is elided.

Second, here is a list of positives:

1) Engaging in a dialogue with people from outside of the philosophico-cult-studs domain is a good learning experience. Especially when I fail to engage properly, because it also me to resharpen my tool-set so as to be more effective by focusing on exactly what aspects failed.

2) As someone said to me at the conference: Heaps of really smart people said really smart things, but my presentation will be one that people will not necessarily forget. Perhaps, not for all good reasons, but potentially unforgettable nevertheless. Who knows?

Anyway. Bed time. I will post more on this tomorrow, including a photo of my presentation notes for my blog-mode presentation. I wrote them on Blogtalk conference note paper, so, you know, it is authentic and was done at the conference. Plus I have posts coming about Star Wars Episode Three, the weekend’s night shananigans, and Christian’s stay at my joint and how we are going to do a thing together based on my Swedish ‘sequels paper’.

Gee whiz. I can’t even be stuffed doing a spell check. lol!

order-words of sexing?

I am certainly no expect on these matters, but Mel‘s recent post on the matter and various reader’s comments to her blog have got me thinking.

It seems as if the rhythm of relations seems to pass through many phase spaces. There is an immediate reorganisation of bodies and their hapticity (is that a word? haha). Verbal, silence, and sensical, but indeterminate moans. Light, darkness, seeing in the dark. Sober, drunk, clarity of purpose. Standing, sitting, reclining, laying, sexing. Touch me, touch you, being touched, indeterminate touching.

Each transition is premised on a flow of energy that reaches ‘fever pitch’. Maybe libido, maybe revenge, maybe collapsed upon the self as a relation of narcissistic enabled masturbation. Respective errogeneous zones cannot handle to be ‘blocked’. Arms open, as do mouths, bodily fluids begin to flow, tongues escape from mouths, ears escape into mouths, fingers and hands move across bodies in flowing caresses (or as rigid automata if sufficiently repressed!). Like electrons that have to jump to another energy level when excited — thus opening up the atom or molecule to other different reactions, connections and couplings — bodies seem to have to reorganise themselves according to the energy level…

Each jump (or ‘becoming’) produces a new playing field. haha. Literally. New areas to play with, to have played with, but new ‘rules’ of play. It is like Lawn Bowls becomes Hockey becomes Footy becomes a Mosh Pit. The ‘disorder’ of the Mosh Pit is still an organised chaos. Simple examples of thresholds are found in clothing, position and proximity of bodies, relation of those sexing to other people (public/private), vigor of interaction and so on. 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd based, home. I am not saying anything too fantastic… (but is there an outfield? “Out of left field”? Is that where it comes from?) Except there is no single set of rules, people who simply ‘run the bases’ are as boring as fuck (or, precisely, not). A number of guys I know do this. Admittedly, sometimes you (both+) just have to though…

Words and phrases used to describe low-level sexual activity project a rhythm and closure, that is, they define the boundaries or scale pertaining to the limits of rules of the relation. If sexing is a series of intensive thresholds that force the immanent reorganisation of bodies, then the words we use to ‘cut’ into this relative continuum of thresholds orders the process. From a simple, “Wanna fuck?” to the seemingly benign, “Wanna cuddle?” A limit is place (or not placed;) on the threshold(s) that will be tolerated. Sometimes when with and for some people certain thresholds are easier to remain at or surpass than others. Just to clarify… words do not only ‘cut’ into the world, they also produce the world. The content of “Let’s fuck” could be hot sex or a see-you-later. The order-word affects a change in the world that is immediate. The words themselves can excite or damn. The incorporeal transformation of something very corporeal. 🙂

It is apparent, of course, like any social text, the order-words of sexing can be used or engaged with in a tactical manner, that is, you should not be naïve! Ahh, yes, the extra-linguistic… or you can jump in eyes wide shut! haha…

Tati, Playtime

These walls are paper thin,
And everyone hears every little sound.
Everyone’s a voyeur, their watching me,
Watch them, watch me right now.

I saw bits of Jacques Tati’s Playtime last night. It is a very interesting film. Actually, I loathe to use ‘interesting’; there should be an embargo on that word. I hate it. No, the film made me think. ‘Interesting’ is something that operates as a kind of seduction, or what amounts to the same thing, a mind fuck. You are subsumed by the intentional complicatedness of the text and interpellated into being a constituent part of the block of space-time (or ‘assemblage’) that envelopes the unthinking, docile and just-right relation. Most of the time I think such complicated texts are constructed by people who lack confidence in their thinking. And they are described as ‘interesting’ by people who do not think, but simply recognise the complicatedness.

Playtime is a relatively simple text, but it forces me to think, or, that is, forced me to thought. Something was produced on the surface of the film, a new Earth. The production of a new territory. From the couch to the television, around the Glen… So the formation of a plane of consistency, organised around thought. Hmmm, it forced me to remember some of what I had forgetton I had forgot. Like the inverse of the Elvis Presley song. So. It was a good film. Perhaps a bit boring in some places (i.e. I could watch it without thinking). Other times it was hilarious. Especially the bus scene where the dude gets on the bus and holds onto a lamp stand thinking it is a pole built into the bus interior… yeah, I guess you had to be there.

According to the IMDb ‘trivia‘ for the film:

Production took place from October 1964 to October 1967. Filming began in April 1965 primarily on a set dubbed “Tativille”, where 100 construction workers built two buildings using 11,700 square feet of glass, 38,700 square feet of plastic, 31,500 square feet of timber, and 486,000 square feet of concrete.

Fuck, I am going back to bed.

EDIT, May 19: undercurrent (aka Robin) of dread, walking fame has a short piece on Tati ghosted through Google cache here.

Capitalism is Demented

From Deleuze’s lecture on Anti-Oedipus:

[…]
In other words, all the bodies of a society are essential: to prevent the flowing over society, over its back, over its body, of flows that it cannot code and to which it cannot assign a territoriality.
[…]
A social body is well defined as follows: there is perpetual trickery, flows flow over from one pole to another, and they are perpetually coded, and there are flows that escape from the codes and then there is the social effort to recuperate all that, to axiomatize all this, to manipulate the code a little, so as to make room for flows that are also dangerous: all of a sudden, there are young people who do not respond to the code: they insist on having a flow of hair which was not expected, what shall we do now? We try to recode it, we will add an axiom, we will try to recuperate [it] but then [if] there is something within it that continues not to let itself be coded, what then?
In other words, this is the fundamental action of a society: to code the flows and to treat as an enemy anyone who presents himself, in relation to society, as an uncodable flow, because, once again, it challenges [met en question] the entire earth, the whole body of this society.
[…]
A conjunction of decoded and deterritorialized flows, this is at the basis of capitalism. Capitalism is constituted on the failure of all the pre-existent codes and social territorialities.
If we admit this, what does this represent: the capitalist machine, it is literally demented.

Governmentality and the ‘Law and Order Society’

I posted a version of the below to the Foucault list this morning as I have reached another aporia in my ‘thesis thinking’. I thought I’d post a version up here, too. Maybe one of my regular readers (or some random) will be able to point me in the direction of some related work. 🙂

My specific problem is that I have been dealing with what in Australia we call ‘hoons’ (in the UK and NZ they are called ‘boy racers’ in the US it is sometimes the more traditional ‘hot rodder’). Basically the ‘hoon’ is an iconic cultural figure: a loud and aggressive young man, driving a loud and aggressive car in a loud and aggressive way (often playing loud and aggressive music on a booming car stereo;). Anyway, the problem is that I can see there is a shift across three phases in the power relations from the ‘normative’ governance of the system of automobility (ala Jeremy Packer’s essay on road safety) through general anxieties about the ‘at risk’ group labelled ‘young drivers’ to the moral panics that have recently emerged in Australia around this figure of the hoon.

What I am interested in finding out is if anyone on the list had come across any work that attempts to reconcile a Foucaultian governmentality methodology with traditional moral panic theory. My problem is in the way power relations operate differently in the two situations. I have been thinking Agamben’s work on the state of exception may be a useful way to think about how moral panics are the expression of a kind of localised state of exception within the institutionalised cultural formations of a given society. By ‘localised state of exception’ I mean organised around a particular social problem and discursively constructed around a necessarily problematic figure, such as the hoon. This would be thinking about folk devils as some way equivalent to Agamben’s conception of homo sacer, and, well, generally offering a specific (but I think productive) misreading of Agamben. These things can be worked around. However it becomes very problematic when Agamben and Foucault’s respective approaches are thought alongside the neo-Gramscian approaches of the British cultural studies tradition, specifically the work of Hall and others on the ‘Exceptional State’ and the ‘Law and Order Society’.

Hmmm, I may just leave it as an unresolved, but productive tension in my thesis. But if someone has come across some work or has some thoughts on how to think through this tension I would love to discuss it with them.