Failure of Neoliberalism

Extract of text from a speech by Evo Morales (via Larvatus Prodeo). Besides the undercurrent of nationalist protectionism, the use of “rule of law” is interesting if thought of as something like Agamben’s “force of law” and the figure of auctoritas. I’d be interested to see what Jon has to say about this.

What does the “rule of law” mean for indigenous people? For the poor, the marginalized, the excluded, the “rule of law” means the targeted assassinations and collective massacres that we have endured. Not just this September and October, but for many years, in which they have tried to impose policies of hunger and poverty on the Bolivian people. Above all, the “rule of law” means the accusations that we, the Quechuas, Aymaras and Guaranties of Bolivia keep hearing from our governments: that we are narcos, that we are anarchists. This uprising of the Bolivian people has been not only about gas and hydrocarbons, but an intersection of many issues: discrimination, marginalization, and most importantly, the failure of neoliberalism.

Offerings to the God of Speed 2

Some more about The World’s Fastest Indian.

To a certain extent, Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) is something of an automobilised equivalent to Deleuze and Guattari’s itinerent labourers in ATP (“freemasons” who built the medieval cathedrals of Europe). The freemasons did not construct space from the conceptual abstract space of architectural ruminations, but cleaved it from rock. Munro does not necessarily construct ‘speed’ from equations or abstractions, but grasps or figures it in experimentations. The line “Offerings to the God of Speed” appears in the movie scawled across a shelf full of what appeared to be failed pistons from the motorbike engine. Munro has been casting his own pistons from old car parts. He is pursuing the traits of ‘strength’ and ‘lightness’ along the machinic phylum of automobility, thus producing a singular technological genealogy.

In experimentation he discovers the ‘right’ mixture for the smelted piston come from a Ford and some from a Chevy. This is the purest expression of ‘modification’, not the insertion of a variation as such (the neo-platonic essence of something is changed), but the pursuit of a ‘trait’ (singularities) and the production of a singular line of becoming. In this case it is becoming-(World’s Fastest) Indian. Interestingly, however, the experimentation is not one of car parts turned into motorcycle components, the motorbike is merely the tool used in the actual experimentation with speed. The motorbike is an automated laboratory that enables exprimentations with the combustion and logistico-mechnical dimensions of speed.

Importantly, ‘speed’ here is not the reified ‘speed’ of the Imperialistic colonial power (in Australia or, in Munro’s case, New Zealand), but the absolute speed of closed systemic variation organised or distributed around an attractor. The actual speed produced is a speed of both slowness and fastness. Munro’s bike will take as long as it will take. The only urgency comes when he feels himself dying; to remedy this he is given tablets of nitroglycerene. Nitro is quite literally rocket fuel and an explosive. It is an odd parrallel to another cinematic essay on speed, Vanishing Point. The ‘driver’ in Vanishing Point, Kowalski (played by Barry Newman), also takes ‘speed’. This is an acceleration of the human to ‘keep up’ with the consistency of speed produced by the techno-mechenical.

Yet, the basin of attraction within which Munro orbits posits him beyond the known. Not in the sense of the unknown which must be colonised, that is, a territory of an-other which must be transformed or captured, but beyond a threshold of speed the production of a new territory which can thus be populated. “What will she do?” is the perenial question asked by enthusiasts. (A differential variation of which is “Are you man enough?”) This is not necessarily a ‘dick-off’ (granted, it may be), but what I think is at stake is the population of the ‘new’ territory produced be it etched in enthusiast discourse as masculinist or technologist. The post-colonial dimension of the ‘Indian’ coming ‘home’ to the US from another (post)colonial space, New Zealand, when there is little evidence of a Maori population is more than ironic.

The production of a ‘new Earth’ is the sole task of the marginalised, disaffected, etc. The Birmingham School tradition of cultural studies attempted to capture and express this function of youth cultures. It is certainly still happening; the only problem for people trapped in a hypstatic conception of subcultural theory is that it is not necessarily inflected by class differentiations. Hmm, I digress…

Here, then, is where the ‘hoon‘ enters the scene. Road safety practioners can only see ‘risk’ above the threshold of the ‘speed limit’. The consistency of everyday traffic produces a rhythmic space-time of urban circulation. In part, hoons exists on these rhythms as something like a surfer riding the socio-logistical waves of traffic. Above the speed limit is a new territory.

Criticism of Our Time

Alberto Toscano on Deleuzian method (here in a roundtable discussion):

The criticism of our time, as you put it, is indissociable from an investigation and experience of its transcendental field(s), of the (impersonal) tendencies and haecceities which traverse it, as well as the potentialities, utopian ones perhaps, with which our present can be composed. This ‘geological’ aspect of ‘total critique’ is of course essential to a dislocation of the present as atrophy and stultifying repetition of doxa.

Becoming-Crazy Frog

Becoming-Crazy Frog
Becoming-Crazy Frog

Saw the shorts for Chicken Little and Happy Feet  and while I don’t expect too much from animated CGI movies it felt as if both flicks were constructed entirely around cute dancing animals that I imagine could be downloaded onto a phone or used in an internet banner of some description.

Crazy Frog mediascape? “Crazy Frog” is the purest expression of an event-commodity in an immaterial labour market. Constructed from two amusing, but forgettable amatuer creative works it is now on the verge of cascading into a fully blown synergasm.

Crazy Frog is the marketing title of a ring tone based on ‘The Annoying Thing’, a computer animation created by Erik Wernquist. Marketed by the ringtone provider Jamba! (known as Jamster! in some markets), the animation was originally created to accompany a sound effect produced by Daniel Malmedahl while attempting to imitate the sound of a two-stroke moped engine. The Crazy Frog spawned a worldwide hit single with a remix of “Axel F“, which reached the number one spot in the UK, Australia and most of Europe. The album Crazy Frog Presents Crazy Hits and second single “Popcorn” continue to enjoy worldwide chart success. The Crazy Frog has also spawned a range of merchandise and toys which look to be very popular for Christmas 2005. Negotiations are also underway for a TV series based on the character.

You can see what I mean on the Chicken Little Disney website where there is a selection of dance moves available on the right hand column. Plus here is the Happy Feet official website where you can see the teaser trailer.

Cute dancing animals? Why? What have we done to deserve this? Don’t give me no post-fordist “you are not in the target market” defence of these commodified memes. It is just shit. Little indication there is a story, little indication of how such a story would engage kids. Chicken Liittle is actually a story everyone knows, but instead of teaching kids about not lying so as to impress people (or go to war), apparently the ‘message’ of the movie is that it suggests that parents should be taught to listen to their kids!!! WTF? Yes, listen to your children so they can buy $3 ring tones and mobile phone themes… Or perhaps it is listen to your ‘inner-child’ so you go eat McDonald’s and become a fully incorporated consumer citizen.

Synergasm? An orgasmic synergy experience. Talk about ‘non-places’, Crazy Frog exists in the space produced entirely through the reflex-giggle of cross-promotion. That is, it is sustained by the interest of others. This is a relation of alterity determined by an other’s enthusiasm. You don’t like it, but someone else bloody must. Actually, “like” is too strong a word, it is a captured affect of interest-excitement on a trajectory of pure speed. The only cultural ‘mass’ behind Crazy Frog’s mass-culture momentum is the story of its differentiation. An animation from here, a soundtrack from there, and exploitation from this mobile phone company.

The Crazy Frog mediascape is different to previous reconfigurations of the media cross-promotional landscape because cereal packaging or fast food happy meals or whatever can only incorporate the spectacle’s media-meme so much before they cease being a cereal packaging or fast food happy meal. Mobile phone video clips, for example, do not change the nature of Crazy Frog, or, as I am arguing, the nature of Chicken Little or Happy Feet as they have been produced in the networked synergastic circle-jerk where the mobile phone video clip is the lowest common denominator. (Well in a ratio of consumer credit versus mass-sales it is anyway…)

EDIT Jan 14, 2006: It appears this post has been aggregated by a spam blog. How postmodern…!?!? Or is it a postmodern blog? How spam…!!

Offerings to the God of Speed

I got to see The World’s Fastest Indian on the flight over from Sydney. It is a terrific movie. I am going to write more about it later — especially because it captures exactly what I mean by “enthusiasm” in my dissertation — but I just wanted to recommend it here in case anyone has the opportunity to see it. Do not expect something constructed as ‘sophisticated’ and do not expect something that attempts to beat you over the head with cutesy charm. There is no nudity in the film but you will see something as naked or perhaps as ‘distilled’ as you are ever going to get. I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Oh, it stars Anthony Hopkins and he is bloody brilliant.

This critic doesn’t get it, although I think he senses he is not getting something.

This critic thinks the middle sags, but doesn’t realise that the biggest problem for enthusiasts of speed is in, as Virilio might say, the logistics. Plus he entirely misses the point about the critique of 1960s America…

From here:

“Part road movie, part extreme-sports biopic, and all shaggy-dog story, Roger Donaldson’s The World’s Fastest Indian evades easy classification—to say nothing of a target audience, unless aficionados of over-the-hill-biker flicks have become a sought-after demographic. Regardless, it’s hard to resist the film’s pleasantly rambling narrative and market-defying eccentricity. […] But Donaldson and his cast still manage to capture something of the strange randomness of existence here, and the result is a film as tenacious, peculiar, and likable as Burt Munro himself.”

It’s about the enthusiasm. You can taste it while watching this film (or maybe that was some ‘titanium tea’, lol). Everyone can understand the attraction and total meaningless of absolute meaning. Indeed, one’s enthusiasm ups the stakes at every role of the dice.

From here:

“The film offers no complexities, details about Burt’s earlier life and family or even hints about why his old bike is so much faster than new models. Button-pushing score emphasizes the most obvious emotional notes of the story. Despite it all, however, pic leaves a sweet, rather than sticky, taste.”

The complexities all stem from the enthusiasm; that is, film is organised a prepersonal enthusiasm for motorbikes/speed as much as the actions of the characters it depicts.

This person missed something about the people Burt (Hopkins) meets along the way to Utah:

“A few of Burt’s encounters are flat and pointless, hanging there like spare parts that add nothing to the story. More tinkering by Donaldson could have resulted in a leaner, meaner film.”

There are a few interesting connections to conversations that have been happening on here recently, particularly regarding conceptions of ‘mateship’. I suspect the Kiwi conception of ‘mateship’ is very similar to the Australian version. Anthony Hopkins plays ‘mateship’ very well.