I have a number of categories through which I judge whether a piece of music is worth me adding it to my master play list. The categories are not simply about being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and they are certainly not received categories of technical or cultural competence. These categories are slightly more esoteric than that. One morbid example are songs that could be played as a eulogy. Songs that fit into this category have to make listeners grieving over my cooling corpse both happy and sad at the same time by capturing the affects of both celebration and commiseration. Normally this is facilitated by some kind of reference to who I am, but in tribute form, one that gets heads nodding, feet tapping and maybe a few lips curling up at the corners of mouths. It certainly isn’t about ‘death’ songs, or any other such thing. Over-the-top-power rock or 1960s surfer rock normally fit the bill here quite well. It was a popular category when I was about 15 or 16 where I would choose fucked up nasty songs just to get back at the world. Now I have a softer edge and want to make people laugh.
Anyway, I have recently figured out another category. It came to me when I was listening to Rise Against’s cover of “Anyway You Want It”. Rise Against are a bit of a hard core band with a social conscience and write tribute songs about protests and fire bombs. I should do a review of their oeuvre soonish. Now for me this song is about being sexy, it is not about representing (allegedly) sexy things, but reaching a certain state of sexiness with the song. The original Journey version was a bit like this too I think, but that is for a different generation so I am not sure how it works. The ‘ACDC version’ of Nelly and Timberlake’s “Work It” is in this category. OK Go’s “There’s a Fire” is also here. These songs not only make me feel sexy but they make me want to make other people feel sexy. Hence the title for the category for isn’t this problematic at the heart of stripping?
There is the obvious stupid spectacle of stripping and the bodily form that goes through various processes of revealing, but there is also the event of stripping involving the excitation of libidinal energies through a composite of rhythmic ‘teasing’ gestures. Good stripping is surely the positing of a problem distributed not only across the body of a stripper but across the collective body of the audience. This stripping-problematic coincides with the apprehension of the sensual mystery of the stripper’s form. The stripper does not reveal his or her body to music, but uses music, dance and props to produce a mystery that may or may not be resolved. Actual stripping for money is the art of producing the fantasy that this problematic can be resolved, however the sometimes more intimate and fun practice of romantic stripping for a private audience is even more powerful. Here there is no fantasy, only an extremely savage eager-eyed anticipation. The mystery of the stripping-problematic is a tool for manipulating the affective disposition of yearning. These songs make me want to produce mysteries with others for which we can hopefully work towards finding solutions as our bodies are eventually implicated in each other.
I need to start working on my emo-jock stripper outfit…
I am busy marking at the moment, and I only try to let myself have one hour of playtime a day. I exceeded the quota terribly today. Why not add a blog post to the tally?
There are abrupt moments where I will read Deleuze’s work and think, “Deleuze! What the fuck?” I read something that seems to contradict what I had previously thought. There have been at least two of these moments, and perhaps more that I have forgotten.
One was reading The Fold in the passage where Deleuze says something like the question of scale is a question of persepctive. WTF? Was Deleuze lapsing into some sort of postmodernist relativism? No. The answer to this WTF is provided in the text. Latour picks up on this too. It is not a question of the relativity of truth, but the truth of relativity.
The other moment came when reading The Logic of Sense where he says, “Structure is in fact a machine for the production of incorporeal sense (skindapsos).” Structure? WTF! Deleuze a structuralist? He wrote a brief essay on the subject, and Alliez addresses it in a paper published as an appendix to his Signature of the World:
That is how Deleuze could recognize himself in a certain structuralism (it is after all the principle behind his response to the question ‘How Do We Recognize Structuralism?’ [Deleuze’s essay]: by seeing structure as virtuality, as the multiplicity of virtual coexistences effectuating themselves at diverse rhythms in accordance with a multi-serial time of actualization …), before denouncing structuralism’s incapacity to account for a reality proper to becoming in a later text from A Thousand Plateaus: `Memories of a Bergsonian’.
For it was in the wake of his Bergsonian studies’ I that Deleuze could oppose to the sedentary character of numerical individuation the nomadic insistence of the virtual in the actual, the pure spatio-temporal dynamism designed to let us grasp the world in its ideal eventality and `real experience in all its particularities’ (heterogenesis). Whence a second proposition which sums up this experimental naturalism for which philosophy merges with ontology and ontology merges with the univocity of Being (according to the famous formulae of The Logic of Sense).
Structure as the machine for the production of incorporeal sense (ie events), this machine is the multiplicity of virtual coexistences effectuating themselves at diverse rhythms in accordance with a multi-serial time of actualization. How is structuralism proper possible then? The obvious answer is that it is a question of perspective (of the scale of events); for example, the truths of rationalities that Foucault extracted from the archive and which existed on epistemic scales.
Over the fold are my brief notes on Foucault’s Governmentality lecture for the biopolitics reading group. I am the discussant this week so here is my point for discussion.
The question I raise is regarding the movement of what Foucault ultimately calls ‘interests’ there are two parts to this. The first traces the idea of interest. The second argues that there must be a concept not dissimilar to Weber’s charisma or at least one that is attentive to the affects of governance is needed.
Across the three main problematics of government — prince/sovereign, family/economy, statistical/population — the notion of ‘interest’ changes. In the first instance it is the interests of the prince at stake, of how he reinforces, strengthens and protects his relations to his principality. In the second example ‘interest’ is not explicitly mentioned by Foucault. However, the notion of the wisdom of the governor indicates that the relations between men and things — to be arranged to a convenient end — relies on a certain kind of ‘objective knowledge’. Part of this objective knowledge must be of the ‘interests’ of the privileged members of the ‘household’/state. In the last case Foucault explicitly mentions ‘interests’ as the ‘end’ of government:
â€œInterest at the level of the consciousness of each individual who goes to make up the population, and interest considered as the interest of the population regardless of what the particular interests and aspirations may be of the individuals who compose it, this is the new target and the fundamental instrument of the government of the population: the birth of a new art, or at any rate of a range of absolutely new tactics and techniquesâ€ (100).
Clearly then in representative governments which only need to be elected by a certain number of the population to hold power, then the unethical government party will privilege those interests of a given number of the population which will ensure them re-election. This is a composite of the prince’s transcendental political interests (of the political party) combined with the paternalistic interets of the nation-household (of the privileged population) combined with the segmented population management of statisitical governance. This puts a different spin on the meaning of ‘right’ in the sense of Perriere’s dictum:
â€œ[G]overnment is the right disposition of things, arranged so as to lead to a convenient endâ€ (93)
The ‘rightness’ of the disposition should be convenient so as to ensure re-ellection of the political party, hence the interests championed by this party will be of a ‘rightness’ that is convenient for a relatively limited population. What happens to the rest of the population? Is this not the essence of the hegemonic project? What I find interesting is that Government implies a relation of futurity in that the ‘right disposition’ is of the present, but the ‘convenient end’ is of the future. In the popularist mode of hegemonic governance the ‘right disposition’ is an affective disposition that flares up or manifests itself. Surely ‘security’ is the best example of this affective relation of futurity, one that is necessarily powered by the anxiety of large populations? So hegemony is no longer the art of winning consent, but the governmental task is to produce anxiety. Anxiety could be new charisma… But there is also the rough correlate to the anxiety-resource of security in the actual charismatic relation required for a reactionary nationalism. The second minor point is that the media is entirely complicit in this production of privileged and segmented population groups which are used as commercial resources.
Continue reading “Biopolitics Reading Group notes 2”
This post is for this commenter who in part wrote:
From what I can see you are doing phd on the most bogan of interests, you call that culture? Youâ€™re a fucking absolute moron. And I am GLAD you donâ€™t get any pussy. Fucking eat shit and die and I hope to christ you fucking die.
Obviously this person has not read Raymond Williams, but that is cool! I am the one doing a PhD in Cultural Studies. Indeed a large part of my thesis involves exploring this notion of ‘interest’, what I call ‘enthusiasm’.
The below is from my new introduction which I started writing the other day to fit with the dissertation reorganisation. It is beginning to feel like a very good decision!! Hopefully this shall explain where I am coming from in terms of ‘enthusiasm’ and it may explain to Fuck You Homo how I have my own anxieties about my PhD.
Within these discursive regimes [organised around ‘grunt’ and ‘performance’] are particular rules that are cultural but which determine the socio-technical relations of an enthusiasm as a structuration of affect. An obvious example is that amongst enthusiasts it is perceived to be fine to swap motors from another car of the same make, this happens all the time, but it is very bad to swap across different makes of engine and car. This is a fundamental â€˜ruleâ€™ of modified-car culture. The engine here is an expression of a complex of technology and identity. There is a lineage of identity across the ensemble of vehicles produced by a manufacturer. The globalisation of the automotive industry in Australia since the early 1980s has troubled many of these discursive rules. However it is clear that questions of identity in these lineages still overcode questions of technological capacity or performance. In the next chapter I shall outline how I am drawing on Foucaultâ€™s archival methodology to look at relations of enthusiasm compared to Foucaultâ€™s focus on relations of rationality. Instead of a â€˜truthâ€™ being at stake, it is a feeling that the relation is â€˜rightâ€™. To continue with the same example, it feels right that a Ford motor powers a Ford car, but if a Chev motor is fitted to the Ford then it is somehow â€˜wrongâ€™. Of course, there are various exceptions, for example the â€˜Hemiâ€™ motor (or basic design of the Hemi) has been used in drag racing for decades in many different vehicles. This is because the Hemi has achieved a certain singular status against which other technical designs are measured. It forms its own series or lineage of identity. The relation of the Ford and Chev motor is one amongst many including aesthetic, performance-based and cultural determinations. The relation is not one of rationality but of enthusiasm. It may be very smart to fit a Chev motor to a Ford car as the parts for Chev motors are generally cheaper in Australia. It would be â€˜truthfulâ€™ is the sense of fulfilling the general coordinates of the â€˜gruntâ€™ discourse of technological performance, but this doesnâ€™t make it â€˜rightâ€™. The multiplicity of these relations forms the organisational structuration of the enthusiasm. Similarly my feeling of being a traitor [to my enthusiasm] expressed above is in part because it muddies the relations of my enthusiasm. It feels â€˜wrongâ€™. It is not a question of rationality. I can rationally understand that this entire dissertation could be understood as a tribute to my enthusiasm that I once shared with others, but it is not about rationality, it is a question of enthusiasm. Doing a scholarly dissertation on modified-car culture feels wrong like putting a Chev motor in a Ford.
I received some copies of the catalogue to the Supercharged exhibition in the mail. Damn. It has some sort of fine felt-like covering and the lettering on the cover is embossed with some sort of flashy silver material. It feels good to hold and looks good to read. It is so cool!
My essay looks sweet amongst all the images. I won’t bother trying to scan it. It would be too difficult. But I am very happy to have been included as part of the project.
If the exhibition is touring near you (it is travelling around Australia until some time in 2007) then go have a look! There are some celebrative and critical moments to the exhibition so it has a bit of everything.