Jericho: Quitting

Wow, the TV show Jericho just got really good. It is worth watching the first 15 episodes just to get to the 16th. Finally the contingencies being encountered are completely produced within the post-apocalyptic universe of the show rather than a fantastic projection of the pre-nuclear-war world into the post-. This transforms the action and events of the show from being a warped or wierd normality to becoming the manfest normality of the wierd.

SPOILERS BELOW

Am I just getting really excited because one of the cool characters cynically described what I called the melodramatic dimension of the show using the word “existential”? (Doctor is one of the refugees from another town or airplane crash or something. Jake is one of the sons of the old mayor. He is the ‘war machine’ son. The ‘she’ is the estranged doctor-wife of the other son.)

Doctor: I became a plastic surgeon to have a nice and simple life. There are other men for this…

Jake: Not in this town.

Doctor: I don’t care! I am not going through with this; it is madness!

Jake: Then everyone else can just go to hell? huh?

Doctor: … [silent]

Jake: If you stop trying then I stop, and they see that, and this whole thing falls apart. We’re all leaning on each other here whether you like it or not.

Doctor: Promise me that you are not saying that we are all connected! That this is not some existential web of life BS. That’s not what I am hearing, is it Jake?!?

Jake: …[pause] Then tell me what you want to hear? Cause I’ll say anything, if you’ll just go back in there and keep trying.

Doctor: …[pause] She’s going to die.

Jake: (nodding, tearing up, and then shaking his head) I know.

Doctor: …[pause]

Why? Because he was ready to quit! Fantastic! To ‘quit’ is a prominent institution of US culture: “don’t quit on me” “quitter” “quitting time” “you are not giving up on her!” or variants that reference this quitting-singularity, such as George W Bush’s “stay the course” etc. The symbolic interactionist nature of a notion of ‘leaning’ on each other or everything will fall apart does not make much sense in the actual real world, but in the Jericho universe in makes perfect sense. It is the phantasmatic neoliberal survivalist fantasy of quitting=dieing and the complement of maximum productivity not for a better world (like in Jericho) but for maximising someone else’s profit. It continues to reinforce my opinion that Jericho is a show for the post-welfare world.

The quitting-singularity occupies the edge of the neoliberal social; the exact location of the early- to mid-1990s ‘slacker’. The ‘slacker’ (or variations from ‘stoner’ to perhaps even into clinical depression and obesity) is the individual embodiment of what it means to ‘quit’. Couldn’t the slacker subjectivity be understood along classic subcultural theory lines? As one resolution (out of a multiplicity of resolutions) to an instrinsic contradiction (maybe of class but not necessarily and along a mulitiplcity of cultural determinants) of forming a life in a world that literally punishes anything other than ‘living’? I don’t mean death as the opposite of life but an enaction of a refusal when every life becomes commodified and disciplined as a lifestyle. To live a lifestyle demands enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the fuel of lifestyles. The ‘slacker’ subjectivity as a lifestyle requires a kind of anti-enthusiasm. The contradiction is a kind of forced insertion into the neoliberal survivalist fantasy of post-welfare state sociality. This comes after the 1980s ‘even nerds and cops can party’ subjectivity, which has re-emerged, and perhaps explains much of my present romantic life.

Anyway, there are no ‘slackers’ on Jericho. The only person who could ostensibly occupy the ‘slacker’ subjectivity is a good bad-boy-brooding teenager that now runs a shop, threatens business partners with guns and actually shoots petty criminals that double-cross him, and has implied under-age sex with his live-in and equally parentless girlfriend!! Rock and roll! He should so go on that Trump show The Apprentice, because clearly he has what it takes to survive in neoliberal fantasy land.

thesis progress

I had a productive meeting with my supervisors this morning. They had just read through my monolithic ‘scene’ chapter and gave me constructive feedback.

It reminds me of the time writing an article with Mel where I would write something barely comrehensible in Glen-speak on the edge of my understanding of something, pushing ti to the absolute limit in response to something Mel had written and then Mel would have to work to understand wtf I was on about.

My supervisors are very patient with me as I often forget to write normal academic things like why some approach has value or not and go into massive theoretical reconstructions. Part of this is an anxiety about my own thinking. Part of this but also separate is the desire to not appear as a hack that simply picks up some body of work and starts using it without doing the hard yards tracing back understandings across half a dozen or so texts for every concept. I want to demonstrate I have done the reading and thinking work.

One of the best things to come out of today’s meeting is the notion I need to earn my ‘theory moments’ rather than just jump in and start swinging. I need to care for my readers and lead them along with examples and empirical work and build up to it.

PS: And my fourth iPod (third replacement) has broken. Apple? Are you smoking crack or what? Same problem as last time, so did they actually fix it? What can I do?

Manage Your Debt

On one side of my local shopping centre (‘mall’) there are spruikers for charities trying to get me to consume some anti-guilt. Opposite the exit of an upwards esculator to the same level is this little machine where you can exchange your immortal soul for the good old bourgeois dream. If you have forgotten, death to the home. Actually, there is an Oxfarm on the level below and I think I might buy some ‘no sweat‘ sneakers next time I have some money.

contingency and complexity

I feel like I am watching everything from space
And in a minute I’ll hear my name and I’ll wait
I think the finish line’s a good place we could start
Take a deep breath, take in all that you could want

— “Finish Line” by Snow Patrol

What if one had read The Logic of Sense and decided to agree with Deleuze’s argument, but that his ethics was on the nose, all that “being worthy of the event” bollocks? We would necessarily have to turn away from contingency and the nomadic distribution of singularities for the flip-side: complexity as the pure passage of the cosmos. Both are in the service of a proximity to singularity. “Contingency or complexity?” Isn’t this the decision demanded of post-structural ‘incorporeal materialists’? It is not a simple choice but an ethical demand. Both are certainly more attractive than a refusal to engage with the burden of singularity by a perverse return to the programmatic projection of accepted expectation.

There seems to be a few forms of ‘complexity’. One which in a simple manner discursively reduces a complicated occurence to a statement of fact. These are deployments of the operators of domination that Foucault wrote about and the purpose of which is to condition and reduce multiplicity. The next traces the silouette of the moon not as agreed upon abstract shape but in the infinite and impossible detail of what exists. Maths is sometimes used here as a short-cut, but this reduces the power of impossibility and is for those who dream of being dreamers. The third is my favourite, and it is complexity as poetic. The project of representation is almost completely sacrificed for the resuscitation of intuition. The silouette of the moon is irrelevant unless a moonbeam captures the grace of a pretty girl as she frowns in concentration; thus, the struggle of life’s will against the expectations of a situation exists as the prehension of a moonbeam. However, even in this extreme case, representation remains and the poetic complexity works on the limit of representation.

The problem is that complexity can be utilised by static-state, state-like and State structures for the purposes of appraising (and not appreciating) a given state of affairs through codification. The difference between appraisal and appreciation is the status of intuition. In the appraisal of a given passage of duration intuition is warded off as something necessarily dirty. To appreciate something means to rely — sometimes too much — on intuition to locate the variation of variation within which we find ourselves.

Contingency is of the girl, of the event of frowning, of the distribution of interest and the capacity of will. There is a letting go of superposition (probability, expectation, sometimes anticipation, etc) for a deep — sometimes nauseous, paralysing or, especially, exhausting — existential soul-searching that forces an acceleration in the face of contingency, to embrace it, but only the ‘it’ of the 4th-person singular. The search is a pursuit of an extremely delicate care that is used like a tool to handle the state of affairs. Capacities are interwoven on a casual limit between phantasm and letting go. This moment is already several and actualised as a baroque architecture of time. To appreciate continginecy is to scale a mountain of virtuality like a chaulked-out children’s sidewalk game of unknown length. Complexity is a lonesome march in the company of everyone; contingency is a joyous dance with unknown partners.

There is a correspondence between the poetics of complexity and the dance of contingency. Within this correspondence, and after accounting for all the seductive intrigue of the poetic, I try my best to side with the unguarded moments of dance.