Start Again

I have decided to start my dissertation again. Not completely from scratch, but just a complete reorganisation. Reading Latour’s Reassembling the Social has enabled me to rethink what I am doing in my dissertation. I hadn’t even started to include my fieldwork research and I have already written 60,000 words, and most of this was archival magazine/newspaper work. I need to the fieldwork to limit the archival work as the way (and rate) I had been writing was going end up with me not completing in time while attempting to write some 110,000 word diss that would need to be reduced to 70,000-odd words anyway.

OK, so now the idea is to combine Latour’s ANT as a particular example of event-based fieldwork with Foucault’s event-based archival work, both through the Deleuzian concept of the event and D&G’s notion of faciality. It allows me to keep it sensible with 2-4,000 words of fieldwork and 3-5,000 archival work per 12-15,000 word chapter. Plus, a ‘methodology’ chapter explaining the event, a cultural studies of the event (or ‘faciality’), and Foucault’s and Latour’s respective works. The bit on Foucault’s work is basically done. The event stuff is tricky but doable. Writing up my fieldwork notes is very easy. The archival work is easy enough, too, because I have done it all.

Stupid? Maybe!


PS. I was watching community tv last night while eating dinner cause they show concerts on Saturday nights. They had a concert by a band called Yellowcard. I couldn’t believe it! I was like, “Get fucked… Emo-punk violin?” If you have heard Blink 182’s “M+M’s” then their music is like that. The violin is awesome. My favourite track is “Miles Apart” off the Ocean Avenue album. When I actually get the CDs I’ll write some more. Fuck it is sick!!

PPS. I have done two 6:29’s on the rowing machine for 2km! Which means I would be ranked 64 in Australia for my class (19-29, heavyweight). Plus I have done I whole bunch of 6:34’s. The next goal is to row a 6:25 and consistently be able to row around 6:35 (instead of around 6:40 which is easy now).


PostgradWiki is up, although not yet properly ‘live’. I am waiting on commissioning confirmation from the CSAA exec. I was fed up waiting so I just used my c/c and set it up myself. I am getting reasonably not-incompetent at doing wikis now!

But cause you are my blog readers I’ll let you know now. If you are a postgraduate student, ECR or recently completed a postgraduate degree in Cultural Studies or a related field then please sign-up and add to the wiki!

I have also posted the email interview/exchange I did months ago with Fran Martin and Susan Luckman about the CRN funding.

Parallax of Nihilism, or Nihilism as a Pure Event

Disclaimer: Yeah, I am not into ‘Zizek’ (I have only read the Deleuze book and some minor essays) and I only know a little Lacanian stuff from what I have had to read to understand Guattari. However, Jodi Dean and Sinthome are entertaining and informative reads from across the theory divide. SO I am going to draw on my understanding of their blog posts, which would be bad if this was a scholarly work, but it isn’t.

I had never heard of the phrase ‘post-analyzed subjects’, but in a recent post Sinthome writes:

The subject experiences desire teleologically as aiming at some state of completeness that somehow we perpetually fail to acheive. I never get the right girl. I never write the right book. I never get the right job. Etc. However, if we anamorphically shift our perspective on desire, we discern drive, where the whole point of the activity is precisely its repetition without ever reaching the goal. The jouissance lies not in the goal, but in the repetition of the failure or the activity itself. Now if the outcome of analysis is a shift from being a subject of desire to a subject of drive, we can very well imagine post-analyzed subjects who draw their enjoyment precisely from some idiotic activity like Kinsey collecting his gall wasps or Husserl producing ever refined phenomenological descriptions of minutiae, without entertaining a belief that these activities are undertaken for the sake of some grand goal that might someday complete itself. The telos of such activity and its jouissance lies in the activity itself, and the subject feels no need to call on the approval of the Other to engage in this enjoyment, nor does he see this enjoyment as an act of transgression attempting to steal jouissance back from the Other.

Now the obvious point is that for a nihilist, or most of my generation, or pretty much every teenager, every activity is an idiotic activity. The entire universe and especially human existence is singular idiotic activity (chaosmos). There is no essential cultural or discursive threshold that differentiates non-idiotic activity from idiotic activity. The question of idiocy is instead precisely one of enthusiasm or the affective associations and qualitative consistency of those associations that implicates us in various assemblages in action. I call idiocy stupidity. As I constantly rant on about here I try to have an intimate relationship with my stupidities. If I didn’t have my stupidities then I would literally become ‘disassociated’. So maybe my behaviour using my fantasies to affectively arouse or agitate myself to carry out ‘idiotic activities’ is a practice of a post-analyzed subject? Is that would you call my freaky disposition of constant modulation between non-awareness and undirected hyper-awareness?

Anyway, that is not what prompted me to write this post. Instead I was thinking about Zizek’s notion of parallax and how I think about nihilism. I have no formal academic knowledge of nihilism, but it seems to me there is something of a paradox in the notion of ‘nihilism’ or of absolute meaninglessness. As I wrote here, meaninglessness also has to be meaninglessness so it doesn’t matter. This could go on forever (the meaninglessness of the meaninglessness is also meaningless, …meaningless of n, what Deleuze calls the paradox of regress or of indefinite proliferation (LoS, 28-31, which I have discussed before in terms of stuttering). However, for the not-mattering to not matter it has to matter that it doesn’t matter. Meaning is always smuggled in. It appears to me as if ‘nihilism’ is an example of what Deleuze called a ‘pure event’; that is, isn’t this the limit case of what Deleuze calls ‘sense’? The meaning or sense of nihilism is the infinite series of meaninglessness.

It is at this point, if I have followed JOdi and Sinthome in my own silly way on their expositions of Zizek’s notions, the negativity of thought emerges. From Jodi’s blog and notes on Zizek’s book and his “revision of the Real as the parallax Real”:

the status of the Real is purely parallactic and, as such, non-substantial; it has no substantial density in itself; it is just a gap between two points of perspective, perceptible only in the shift from the one to the other. The parallax Real is thus opposed to the standard (Lacanian) notion of the Real as that which ‘always returns to its place’–as that which remains the same in all possible (symbolic) universes: the parallax Real is, rather, that which accounts for the very multiplicity of appearances of the same underlying Real–it is not the hard core which persists as the Same, but the hard bone of contention which pulverizes the sameness into a multitude of appearances.

However, there is a problem with ‘meaninglessness’ as a parallactic point, which Zizek apparently also uses in a similar fashion to the way I am using it, and that problem with meaninglessness and Zizek’s account of it is that as soon as meaninglessness is actualised as ‘meaninglessness’ it gains some sense and becomes meaningful. Therefore, in the parallax of nihilism is not of a void between two points, it is a pure openess and continual movement — a pure becoming — from the virtual to the actual (which refreshes the virtual again): To be nihilistic is to not be…

Of course, I may be understood as playing stupid word games. Indeed, it is the height of stupidity (in the sense above). A stupidity that may reassure or comfort some people because of the affective associations it produces between what I write and its truth. As something like a plot out of a Transformers movie: the universe may be meaningless, but the only event that has meaning is meanlessness itself, therefore there is an existential Archimedean point upon which to persevere: I can’t go on, I will go on. Actually I wish someone had told me this when I was 12 and the meaningless of the universe and of myself as part of the universe became apparent. So this is for the 12 year old Glen that (according to Daniel Stern) resides here as well as part of my multiplicity.

Supercharged essay

Here is my essay that shall appear in the “Supercharged” exhibition catalogue.

Supercharged Essay (pdf)

I am very happy with it as it is the first (and only) piece of work to come out of my PhD thinking and research. I am quite proud of it. Plus I am honoured to have been asked to write the essay by Vanessa McRae (Exhibitions Manager, Institute of Modern Art) who I met at the Cruising Country conference a few years ago.

There are some images that appear in between the pages of my essay that are not part of the PDF. One is a photo of a motor show that includes the banners ‘Passion’ and ‘Obsession’ and the other is a scanned advertisement for the Holden V8 from a 1984 Street Machine magazine.

(The only hiccup is the bio line which seems to have been compressed from the few sentences I sent off. It was meant to say ‘He has had work published in…’ and I tought the course at UTS not UWS, but minor in the scheme of things!)

peanut wars

(Crossposted here and here as well)

Andrew Norton, you are an intellectual peanut, and not even the yummy kind baked in wasabi that I buy as a treat. You are just the run-of-the-mill peanut that should’ve be been blended with vegetable oil and turned into Savings-brand peanut butter and which can only be bought in discounted ‘family’-size portions.

He is my list of your stupidities derived from your blog post:

1) a) Lucy and Mickler define democracy as an ‘idea’ and not a political institution. Can you comprehend this? If you actually have the book, then read
b) They argue that ‘teh Conservative Right’ always attempts to conflate this idea of democracy with a particular political institution.
c) You don’t have to have the intellectual generosity (or maybe capacity?) to even appear as if you understand their point…
d) …So You Write Capitalised Letters To Make Some Vague Point About What You Think ‘most people’ Would Recognise As Democracy, Or As You Write, “something everyone believes to be A Good Thing”. From my interpretation of your half-arsed commentary it appears as if you are saying the democracy resides in the political institutions of representative government (but it isn’t clear what you actually think or are arguing), which is precisely what Lucy and Mickler argue teh Right would say!!!! You are agreeing with them!?!?!!?

Fallacy number one: you do not speak for ‘most people’ and your voice is not the voice of ‘common sense’. Get over it. Speaking as some imaginary voice of common sense may make you feel better but it actually makes you look like someone who doesn’t think for himself. Surely you can think for yourself, so why write in such an unthinking popularist way? You deploy this rhetorical trick in your (non)argument to make it appear as if you are saying something that everyone would agree with when at the very least you are not saying anything, or at worst and more likely you are actually agreeing with those you are allegedly arguing against!!

(Some more complex points for those who actually want to engage with the intellectual argument which you may or may not agree with: 1)a) Democracy is not so much an ‘idea’ either but an event in the specific sense that Derrida uses the term (different from other philosophers although similar to Deleuze’s ‘pure event’). There is always a residual — a remainder — whenever ‘democracy’ as an event is enacted. It is this kernel that forces the entire democratic project to reimagine itself so it can become more democratic. This is why democracy is forever an unfinished work in progress (yes, PROGRESS, REMEMBER WHAT THAT IS?). b) Just as there is a conservative Right there is also a conservative Left (trade unions, etc). For their respective followers they work in an attempt to distribute resources unequally through political institutions. The very political institutions themselves favour this asymmetrical distributiuon, hence the ‘democratic’ institutions are essentially anti-democratic; they forever and continually reduce the multiplicity of the event of ‘democracy’ to some easily managed ‘politics of the image’ or what is worse an ‘image of politics’.)

2)a) Team America was a shit movie. The satire was obvious. However, the ambiguity of well written satire sometimes fools people. You were fooled by Lucy and Mickler’s comments about Team America. It was a warning to help guide readers through the rest of the book.
b) It was also a trap to trip up their enemies who would read the book either with no intellectual humour or a willed stupidity. Ok, is Miranda Devine actually a satirist? Think about it…
c) Yes, humanities academics write playful arguments, most of the time they are not playing with words, but playing with the stupidity of some readers by using words.

3) Yes, the point of p.58 undermines their entire argument. Andrew Norton, you must be a genius… to have found a single point that simply undermines an entire argument written by two established academics. Now, I ask myself the question, is Andrew Norton actually a genius to have found such an obvious and fatal flaw in an argument or does he suffer from such a dire intellectual poverty and he cannot understand the argument to such a degree that he believes that a single point will actually undermine their entire argument? Of course, he speaks in the voice of ‘most people’ and ‘most people’ in this world are clearly geniuses. Well done! (Wow, I am getting the hang on teh Right’s mode of rhetoric!)

(Again some more complex points: teh conservative Right has to deploy a multiplicity of operators to counter ‘democracy’ in action and reduce it to the easily managed images we are used to seeing in ‘politics’. The various commentators that Lucy and Mickler have singled out all participate in this project in DIFFERENT ways. There is no single argument or position of teh Right. Their anti-democratic hegemonic project is being fought on a number of fronts. That is why speaking in terms of teh Right and teh Left is another (albeit sometimes necessary) stupidity, because it already reduces a multiplicity of positions to two easily managed images of politics… Who is getting this yet?)