Our Future

“Control is not discipline. You do not confine people with a highway. But by making highways, you multiply the means of control. I am not saying this is the only aim of highways, but people can travel infinitely and ‘freely’ without being confined while being perfectly controlled. That is our future.” — Gilles Deleuze, Two Regimes of Madness, pg 322

I am plowing through the collection Deleuze’s writings and lecture/interview transcripts, Two Regimes of Madness and…

Wow.

What a line!

Am I surprised that Deleuze uses a highway to exemplify what ‘our future’ will be in control societies? No. I make precisely the same connection in my Getaway in Stockholm essay published last year in M/C Journal, but about the road safety industry being an institution within the control societies. This is a much more specific point than that of Deleuze above. He needed a language that allowed him to express the freedom of the highway more accurately, and this is the language of ‘automobility’, and then about the way automobility is regulated.

Maybe a Road Safety Industry/Control Societies essay is worth writing?

Vectors

“The vector of prehension moves from the world to the subject, from the prehended datum to the prehending one (a ‘superject’); thus the data of a prehension are public elements, while the subject is the intimate or private element that expresses immediacy, individuality, and novelty. But the prehended, the datum, is itself a preexisting or coexisting prehension such that all prehension is a prehension of prehension, and the event is thus a ‘nexus of prehensions.'” — Gilles Deleuze, The Fold, page 88.

(Yes, this is where Massumi gets his writing style from. haha)

I have a question: Is this vector of prehension the same vector that Virilio (and later, McKenzie Wark) dicusses in terms of ‘media events’?

The notion of a ‘vector’ introduces a duration that would otherwise not be obvious in Deleuze’s description of Whitehead’s conception of the ‘event’. It means that the ‘screen’ has a durability that lasts as long as the duration of a ‘vector’. Whoa. I just realised that this means that if the vectors of prehension involve technologically mediated transmission (ala Virilio) there can be several iterations of dissonace effects as events are ‘ghosted’ into the materiality, like a burnt-in tv image (or now plasma screen). This residual produces an emergent complex of potentiality in the socio-technical bureaucracy of what Massumi would call ‘event transmission’. Is not the media as the social infrastructure of a scene (or ‘world’ for the anthropologists) the collective prehension (and force) of these evental dissonance effects?!?!?! ahah! aha! aha!

Folds

So I got my art exhibition essay in yesterday. On time too, which made the organisers happy. They are also happy with my approach, which was basically a Deleuzian take (although I don’t reference or mention Deleuze in the essay) on Weber’s conception of ‘charisma’ placed in the context of the disciplinizing function of the system of automobility and the post-industrial cultural economy of contemporary car culture. ‘Charisma’ was as close as I could get (within the word limit restrictions) to what I call ‘enthusiasm’ in my dissertation. It was my first piece of commissioned writing work not for car magazines and I enjoyed writing it. I got to dip into a world I know very well and frame a ‘problem’ and then address it. It is quite different to most of the writing that appears here, and quite different from my dissertation writing for that matter. Something like a cross between my diss writing and my magazine writing. Same sense of irreverant Gen-Y/X humour and hopefully the charm of my magazine writing but with the scholarly erudition and complexity of my diss work. They said they are going to do an edit, and hopefully when they have a ‘catalogue’ version I’ll be able to put it up here.

On another front, Gleebooks is hopefully going to have recordings of the events available online very soon. Another fellow and I have been working on getting this sorted. I am not sure how access is going to work yet. I think it may only be the very big events that are made available and perhaps to the general public. However, I am pretty sure because of the bandwidth issues they will eventually only allow access to Gleeclub members. I am pushing for full video productions and pay-per-view downloads (to cover costs), but this is a long way off. I see this as an extension into the online realm of Gleebooks institutional infrastructural role in the literary, publishing and political scenes in Australia (ala ‘scene’ from Landry’s _Creative Cities_). It will happen eventually (yes, technological determinism!).

Lastly, I have finally got a copy of Deleuze’s The Fold (and Two Regimes of Madness) some weeks ago. I am not sure what I have been doing until now, but it is somewhat embarrassing to have not read The Fold and yet have ‘event’ in the title of my blog. I offer this ignorance as evidence of my autodidact status. I’ll repeat something I wrote a while ago: If I ever supervise someone writing a ‘Deleuzian’ thesis then I’ll know where to direct them in terms of reading. Yep, I have learnt the hard way. I’ll have to write something later, I guess, on the movements (the event!!) of the ‘event’ between The Fold and The Logic of Sense. This problem is far too great for my little peanut brain, yet it could probably be considered the problem in and with Deleuzian philosophy. It would have to address the specific relation of the ‘screen’ or ‘grid’ (of The Fold) in relation to language (of The Logic of Sense). I have another quick post on this, a question.

[As a sidenote, I raised the possibility of a seminar or even a masterclass on the ‘event’ with some other postgrads, it generated some interest. The previous idea regarding some sort of unofficial seminar-type event on the assemblage may be best folded (lol!) into a seminar on the event. I am thinking of something like 4 or 5 sessions. With the first session on the theory of the event (from Deleuze and from which most of the following largely derive), and the other sessions being sessions on examples of the event at work. So, for example, second session could be the event in Foucault’s ‘eventalizing’ methodology, third session could be Virilio/Wark’s notion of ‘media event’ vs Dayan & Katz’s ‘media event’ vs Baudrillard’s ‘non-event’, fourth session on Deleuze and Guattari’s assemblage, maybe fifth session on Badiou’s notion of (and perhaps also Zizek’s reading of) ‘evental truth’. Heidegger should probably be in there too, but I have never read any of his work. I would really like to organise something, but I am totally against it with diss writing. Maybe next year when I am a phd. Very ambitious and, yes, there would be a ‘book’ of readings that would go into hundreds of pages. Might as well not be half-arsed about it.]

Fast Company

I got my hands on a 2-disc DVD of David Cronenberg‘s third big film, Fast Company. I had been reluctant to watch this film even though I knew I would have to one day. Sure I had seen a handful of his movies before and eXistenz had been one the first films that I’d seen as a teenager that really got me thinking about reality and all that jazz.

My problem was that I didn’t exactly trust arthouse-type bohemians to treat car culture or motorposrt with any respect. That is not the same thing as not being critical; producing critique and indicating the exploitative way something functions requires the utmost respect if it is going to be successful. By ‘respect’ I mean an absolute attention to detail, or at least a peformative display for those in the know that one has attempted to pay attention to the details.

Most of the reviews of Fast Company are utter nonsense written by people who think that because they know Cronenberg films they can comment. Sure they can comment, but their comments are going to come across as patently stupid for anyone who actually gets the film. These reviews have attempted to read Fast Company in terms of the other films. But why do this?

Anyway, my worry was that Fast Company was going to be another Metal Skin. Metal Skin is an Australian film that is both very interesting and terrible at the same time as it was made by some trendy inner-city film makers about suburban car culture in Melbourne. My memory of Metal Skin was that they got it right (again from being a teenager), but I watched it again last year and I realised everything about the culture is a little off. It is a little too excessive or intensive in the same way a schoolyard bully teases someone by pointing out the obvious but changes the tone slightly transforming an observation into an insult.

Metal Skin is something of an abheration in media that attempts to represent car culture. Normally media either attempts to represent a particular facet of the culture in almost a documentary-style cinematography or the fantasy element of the culture is exploited not to represent the culture in any direct way, but to capture the libidinal energies of enthusiasts who have invested themselves into the culture. I call the second form machinic (even though of course there is a machinic dimension to the first type). A good example of the documentary-type of film that treats the enthusiasm with respect and where the film is made not in an explicit attempt to cash in on the enthusiasm is The World’s Fastest Indian. Good examples of the second type of film include all the films in the Fast and the Furious franchise (even though the third film does try a little to address the obvious stupidities of the fantasy element). Metal Skin attempts to extract the intensities of the Melbourne suburban car culture just like the exploitative second-type of films, but with a twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan. Metal Skin is not for an audience of a Melbourne suburb (because then the film would’ve followed Mad Max), but an audience of bourgies like the film makers. For some bizarre reason a bunch of bourgie film makers decided to use a car culture completely and utterly alien to trendy inner-city folk use it to exploit the libidinal energies invested in negative conceptions of suburban Melbourne car culture. I have a feeling it has sometyhing to do with a kind if shitty-suburbs authenticity thing that was going on at around the same time in the literary and publishing world.

Yeah… I am just listening to Cronenberg’s director’s commentary and he is saying the exact same thing!!! Holy shit!!!!!111 Not about all these other movies, but the documentary call (from about 0:01:20 to 0:02:04 in the commentary):

“When we got to meet the drag racers whose cars we were using for the movie that there was a rich culture of verbal and visual… that hadn’t really been addressed in the script. SO In a way there was a lot of documentary film making going on in this movie where I would include at 5 in the morning while I was rewriting the script things that I had heard the drag racers say the day before and incidence and moments and stories that thye would tell. And so there was a lot of documenting of what I was seeing in this movie.”

Later (0:13:20-0:14:16):

“There is, of course, as I was saying, a ‘found art’ aspect to this movie for me which was in the drag racers and the world that they lived in cause the guys that originally wrote this script I think were basing their script more on other movies and some other fantasies they had about drag racing rather than on the real lives of drag racers. So once we got involved in that life we the stunt men and the stunt drivers who were driving the racers for us a lot of things popped into focus. And I mean, they really did say things like, ‘You can suck my pipes.’ And all of those really colourful expressions, which I actually made sure ended up in the movie.”

Later still (0:29:30-0:29:49):

“It is an expression of somehting that I’m very passionate about and remain very passionate about, even though it doesn’t seem to correlate easily or critically with my other movies. I was really quite pleased to tackle the kind of classic mythology and the good and bad on a race track and the shoot out on a drag strip kind of aspects of it. There was never any intention on my part ot subvert it or to turn it into anything else. I really wanted it to be kind of classic B-movie with the things that are kind of lovable about B-movies.”

Bravo! And in the commentary to the next scene where a driver is explaining how he mixes his own nitromethane fuel for his nitro funny car, we get to what I mean by ‘respect’ above(0:30:05-0:30:32):

“All these details about involved in mixing your own fuel mixture and so on, to me, are to the essence of this movie. I love this stuff, and its all stuff that wasn’t in the script, and it was things we discovered while we were shooting the movies. So it was once again a bit of found art as far as I’m concerned, part of the documentary aspects.”

Note: Worth hearing is Cronenberg’s reaction when he discovers a certain scene involving oil and naked bodies was reinserted into the DVD release. He gets very excited. lol

More (0:43:05-0:45:00):

“It’s interesting the idea of a racer being put into various humiliating positions vis-a-vis his sponsors and stuff is… It was kind of prescient in a way because of Formular One racers for example spend more time at dinners for sponsors I think then they do racing. It’s part of the game and most racers are very uncomfortable doing it. Some racers have made quite a career because they could handle the public relations aspect of racing, end up getting sponsors and bring money with them to the race team. Often its not the best racer who gets to race but the one who’s got the best public relations face and can round up some sponsors in his native country… That’s in Formula One, and I’m not sure how it works in drag racing, but obviously selling is a big part of all modern sports especially motorsport.”

Around 1:12:00 Cronenberg finally addresses the division of labour that is involved in producing the spectacle of these drag races. The promotional team managers, promo girls, drivers, team chiefs and workers all work to different vectors.

I’ll write some more about this later, specifically the ‘mechanics’ of the spectacle as dissected in and through the film.

EDIT: well it would be good to spell his name correctly

For Fun

Here is my reply to a post on the Age’s Screen Play blog (by Jason Hill). I thought they needed some poststructuralist critique to liven things up.

—- —- —-

“FOR FUN”

Interesting point, craig. The only problem is that the buying public are not neo-Kantians who believe in a universal ‘fun’.

If we look at what the function of what a gaming system is meant to do — which is to ward off boredom, although this may be discoursed as ‘fun’ — then the question becomes, which gaming console has the capacity to be the most efficient tool at warding off boredom for post-scarcity post-industrial tech-savvy consumers?

The question of the consumer introduces a generational disjunction between the series of gamers and the series of gaming machines. The consumers of these so-called next-gen consoles are going to bave been socialised with 2nd gen consoles and high quality PC gaming machines. The consumer cohort of the previous gen consoles would have been socialised with 1st gen consoles and maybe some late arcade machine action.

I raise this point because it is the boredom of the consumer that the gaming console has to ward off, and if the consumer cohort has shifted in what could be consider along roughly generational lines, then the functional demands on a console to be ‘fun’ (ie ward off boredom) will also shift. In other words, it is dynamic a feedback to feedback process where the variables are variable and a universal ‘fun’ can not be relied on.

Another point, more directly related to the question of popularity. A gaming machine and its games may have the necessary elements to be popular, that is, to incite it’s consumption in a consumer cohort, but the ‘popularity’ itself is manifest within the consumer cohort. The consumer brings the gaming machine’s popularity with him or her when he or she goes to buy it (or buys a game or talks it up on a blog or whatever). So along with the technical capabilities of the gaming machine, the aesthetic and technical qualities of the games, the industry convergence tipping points (that Rawlser hints at), possible cross-platform convergence, and the dynamics of exchange and supply that will affect pricing and therefore consumer will, is this manifest buzz of popularity that very well may be triggered by all of the above, but is brought to the dynamics of the process by consumers themselves. Predicting this consumer sentiment is very tricky. A great tool to do so may be to write a blog post about it and see what all the comments say.