Between Auge and Deleuze

I am currently reading Ronald Bogue’s introduction to the Deleuze Cinema books before I actually start reading them. This is probably cheating, but I really don’t have the time to bugger around with Deleuze much anymore. I did not realise that Deleuze used Marc Auge’s term ‘any-space-whatever’ (‘espace quelconque’) to develop his notion of the affection-image in Cinema 1 (for a quick summary see this book review). In Cinema 1 Marc Auge’s name is written as Pascal Auge (???? If anyone knows why this is the case, please let me know!!).

The Careerist Security of Noblesse Oblige #3: Alternative Security?

Above via.

In response to questions from jon and clif stemming from two earlier posts..

What I am trying to think around is ‘revolution’ as a movement (or ‘exodus’ as it may be) and more along the lines of a stabilization of a movement that is already happening.

The way the PoSL manifesto discusses it is in terms of a revolutionary movement. First there is an awakening to the real conditions of existence which is not a static distribution of power in relation to the mode of production, but it itself the insatiable appetite of the processual ‘spectacle’ at work (I think captured in the phrase ‘the moving wall of hegemony’), then there is a movement away from falsity through the application of a kind of violence that comes with the near absurd ‘total revolution’. Can revolution be stasis when the entire world is always already movement (of capital, desire, deterritorialised flows of whatever, etc)? unlikely, as it would always already be a movement relative to any other coordinate in the frame of reference (or ‘segment’ or ‘field’)… so it is not movement itself that is the problem.

A more rigorous definition of what I mean by ‘security’. Two quick distinctions can be made here. One between ‘security’ as pertaining to physical systems that are in someway regulated and incorporeal events of security, where ‘security’ is a metaphysical state/process. A second distinction can be made between security belonging to thresholds/being and the security belonging to duration/becoming. The airport security is a classic example of a liminal space of State sovereignty. It operates as a material and immaterial filter. I have discussed this on my blog somewhere, hmmm… This is the security of the threshold.

Is if there is a security in/of/to becoming? I am not sure. Security would be more like ‘maintenance’, ie if you maintain your car you can be secure in the knowledge that you can expect it to run properly and it won’t break down. There is no certainty here; one’s car may very well breakdown. Yet, there is a pleasant kind of security in knowing that your car should not break down. There is a reduction in the mist of (im)probability surrounding each movement. I think it is necessary to reclaim the positive potential in this. What I am dreaming is a ‘security’ that can serve as an alternative stability to the social mechanisms serving as apparatuses of capture for Empire. Stability in this sense is having the security in an expectation that the future will be something and having some conception of what that something will be. There is a centrifugal tendency where those who need or want an alternative security are pushed outward (or inward or to the surface, etc). It is not the human agency that refuses, but the social machinery from which the non-agency is expelled. Exclusion only leads to another inclusion in today’s ‘control society’. What I imagine as security is an alternative form of ‘inclusion’.

xXx paper

xXx/GTO paper is almost finished. It has turned into a cracker. I hope it is still suitable for the journal.

This may appear a bit stupid, but I think now I would’ve preferred to have written a thesis length version of this xXx/Gto paper as my thesis. There is so much stuff here to talk about. For starters, the overlap between the automotive industry and popular culture has yet to be explored properly. Some of my key points in my thesis to do with the ‘cultural economy’ are brilliantly exemplified in the case of the Pontiac GTO and the role it has played in popular culture. My head spins with all of the connections between different fields, histories, critical approaches and so on.

I could imagine a similar book to the famous introductory DuGuy text on the Sony Walkman, but on the Pontiac GTO. It would sell in the US for sure…

One of the undercurrent points of my paper that I did not have the space to properly elucidate relates to Deleuze’s argument on the multi-seriality of any series (in The Logic of Sense). If I have time I will post up some thoughts here.

The most interesting thing for me about the Pontiac GTO is how it ties together so many different dimensions of popular culture — cars, popular history, movies, music, and so on — while ostensibly being merely a ‘car’, and hence hardly ever thought of as an artefact of popular culture. Probably a better example than a blockbuster movie franchise, the Pontiac GTO is another form of what I am now calling a ‘cultural franchise event‘. Each iteration of the GTO across different milieus actualises the ‘pure event’ of the GTO in different, but repeated ways.

Chapter in a book on Cultral Franchise Events, maybe?

The Careerist Security of Noblesse Oblige #2: Insecurity

To continue the Bourdieu-workplace connection in the context of (in)security here is an extract on neoliberalism from a brilliant article (via):

… a Darwinian world emerges — it is the struggle of all against all at all levels of the hierarchy, which finds support through everyone clinging to their job and organisation under conditions of insecurity, suffering, and stress. Without a doubt, the practical establishment of this world of struggle would not succeed so completely without the complicity of all of the precarious arrangements that produce insecurity and of the existence of a reserve army of employees rendered docile by these social processes that make their situations precarious, as well as by the permanent threat of unemployment. This reserve army exists at all levels of the hierarchy, even at the higher levels, especially among managers. The ultimate foundation of this entire economic order placed under the sign of freedom is in effect the structural violence of unemployment, of the insecurity of job tenure and the menace of layoff that it implies. The condition of the “harmonious” functioning of the individualist micro-economic model is a mass phenomenon, the existence of a reserve army of the unemployed.

This structural violence also weighs on what is called the labour contract (wisely rationalised and rendered unreal by the “theory of contracts”). Organisational discourse has never talked as much of trust, co-operation, loyalty, and organisational culture as in an era when adherence to the organisation is obtained at each moment by eliminating all temporal guarantees of employment (three-quarters of hires are for fixed duration, the proportion of temporary employees keeps rising, employment “at will” and the right to fire an individual tend to be freed from any restriction).

Alternative paths of security are needed!

The Careerist Security of Noblesse Oblige

A response to Mel Gregg’s response to my comments on her blog. The below numbered comments are drawing on some ideas being developed for the Autouni event where I will hopefully be a giving a paper (of some description, the exact nature of which is yet to be determined) with Sandy. Hopefully the below does not come across as too pretentious. It is deliberately written as a provocative and unfinished manifesto.

The substance of my response is based around an interrogation of the below quote from Pierre Bourdieu posted by Mel on her blog, in relation to her comments about her future (‘defer gratification’), and the “Poverty of Student Life” document forwarded to me from Sandy. The PoSL document apparently served as something of a catalyst for the events of May ’68. I suggest that its focus on the society of the spectacle and other related engagements with the ‘then-contemporary’ society (such as the critique of desire by Deleuze and Guattari in Anti-Oedipus) needs a thorough going over for the post-Fordist, post-9/11 era.

“The career is merely the time of waiting for the essence to be fulfilled. […]This all contributes to a world without surprises; and helps to exclude the individuals capable of introducing other values, other interests, other criteria in relation to which the old ones would be devalued, disqualified. Noblesse oblige: it establishes simultaneously the right of succession and the duties of the successor; it inspires aspirations and assigns them limits; it offers the young an insurance which, being of the same order as the assurances offered, implies patience, recognition of the distance and therefore the security of the elders. Indeed it is possible to get the assistant lecturers to resign themselves to have nothing for so long and to such an advanced age, to hold merely subordinate positions in a hierarchy where the intermediate degrees (which moreover are few enough) are defined only negatively through lack of certain attributes attached to higher positions, only because they are guaranteed eventually to have it all, and all at once, to pass without transition from the incompleteness of the assistant lectureship to the plenitude of the professorship, and, by the same token, from the class of impoverished heirs to that of legitimate title-holders.” Pierre Bourdieu, Homo Academicus

1) The career is a segment of subsumption or durational relation within the total society of the spectacle: a willful acceptance of a given field’s social correlates not for the sake of ‘having it all’ as Bourdieu would have it, but for the sake of the guarantee. The determined posturing of a careerist’s determinations is a microcosm for the subterranean plight of entire populations. [Here the figure of the ‘student’ may be a useful site of experimentation — a tool and nothing more — but more on this later.]

2) Why do so many people wilfully enter into the ‘university factory’ to become part of the ‘new’ technocratic regime of ‘specialists’? The key point here is that in the 1960s it seemed the most logical critique centred around a mass seduction of entire populations so they were spectators within the society of spectacle, ala ‘desire’ entering into and overdetermining circuits of exchange.

3) There is a security to subsumption in an era of rising debt levels, the ‘mortgage belt’ and neo-liberal economics producing precarious workplaces. Such material socio-economic insecurities have been skillfully rearticulated by the ruling classes as the threat of terrorism. Def: Security is the superposition of one moment upon the next in a serial form for the sake of a calculated futurity (expectation). Security = expectation. Once security has been attained, then it is sensible to discuss subsumption of these relatively secure populations by the spectacle.

4) Resistance does not come from a denouncement of the society of the spectacle from those who are happily secure in careers, that is, within positions where the ontological relation to the future is one of superposition and, hence, expectation. Only those with a taste of enforced precarity – some youth, the poor, some women, some ethnicities – can know what it is to live a life that labours towards failing the expectation of failure; there is no surprise.

5) We must move beyond the figure of resistance as being that of refusal. The epitome of which is the punk whose sloganeering reflects a refusal of the banal security (futurity) implicit within the society of the spectacle. “No Future.”

6) ‘Refusal’ is often captured by the machinery of capital as the standing reserve of [consumer choice -> expected satisfaction -> consumption -> exchange].

7) Instead resistance is exactly the creation of alternative modes of security. Remember, State-based security within late capitalism is a relation of futurity; a futurity where the ‘essence’ of the society of the spectacle is realized in every life and serialized in everyday life; every life reproduces the society of the spectacle as a trajectory where one moment is ‘leadingly’ superimposed upon the next.

8) The production of alternative modes of security is a radical act prompted by the collapse of the social welfare state. The accelerated introduction of neo-liberal economic policies that strip workers of security is the greatest act of damnable self-hatred that capitalists have ever launched upon themselves.

9) The production of alternative modes of security is the conservative’s worst nightmare. Once alternative modes of security are produced why is there any need to rely on State or charity based security? What is it that these governmentalities actually do for you?

10) What makes students very interesting in all this, as the “Poverty of Student Life” article states, “The student’s old-fashioned poverty, however, does put him at a potential advantage–if only he could see it. He does have marginal freedoms, a small area of liberty which as yet escapes the totalitarian control of the spectacle. His flexible working-hours permit him adventure and experiment.”

11) The freedom from totalitarian control of the spectacle may allow a small area of liberty. The liberty is exactly neo-liberal insecurity. It is this ‘liberty’ that must be capitalised upon, especially postgraduate students who are on a scholarship and have a little more freedom than those not on a scholarship. (In terms of security, and at the most basic level, for the poverty of the university student this often means finding a place to live. At more complex levels this means employment networks, social networks, and so on)

12) The first sign that one may be ready to join such alternative modes of security may be a contempt, or, at the minimum, a dissatisfaction with the society of the spectacle. The second sign is a contempt for the relevant ‘expectations’ by which one becomes subsumed and incorporated into the circuits of desire/exchange.

13) The move beyond such tropisms requires a yearning; an opening to the future through a double acceptance of the present. Such yearning is a manifestation of a pure revolutionary spirit.