deleuzian diss writing

The paradox for me as something of a Deleuzian PhD student when writing is that if language fixes multiplicities and argument is the mobilisation of ideas across these multiplcities, then the actual practice of writing produces a constant series of blockages when trying to pay attention to the ‘between’ of the indiscerible dimension of multiplicities.

The blockage is actually produced from too much flow and excess of attention on the ‘between’. It is a felt experience of panic and anxiety when actually in front of the computer, is there an end? One comical dimension of this is that my monitor size has kept increasing. I am literally trying to fit more on the screen.

There is the ‘between’ of empirical data from fieldwork or archival research. Whatever situation is discussed is always a partial account. I am not trying to write a ‘total’ account, rather the paradox is of the infinite partiality (in the sense of the infinite continuum between 0 and 1). This is a version of what Deleuze called the paradox of regress or indefinite proliferation (LoS 28-31). It pertains to the problematic dimension of sense or events.

Using an example from Carroll, when Alice meets the Knight and discuss the name of a song, Deleuze writes, “We must start at the end in order to restore the natural regress” (29). The end in this case is the real name of the song (nor the sense of this name, nor the name of this sense, not the name of this second sense).

The difference of course is that the problematic dimension of dissertation writing is always between points in an argument and the consolidation of examples. There are two things that I now understand about my dissertation writing process that I previously did not.

Examples are derived from elsewhere (fieldwork or archival research in my case). I have so far written my dissertation using the examples as the ‘end’ to the intensive and potentially infinite continuum between points in my argument. Anyone who has read drafts will know that I certainly write on a line to inifinity (lol). Literally this means rather than using examples to exemplify something or explain my argument I have used them to end the infinite proliferation of points between points. I have only just realised this as I have been trying to invert the structure of my argument so it flows in more conventional ways.

There is no point where I suddenly ‘realised’ my ‘findings’ as derived from my empirical work. I have ‘findings’ in the sense I can say certain things about the world with the authority of someone who knows roughly what they don’t know about a subject (and therefore can isolate what they can say about a subject) but I am not sure how I ‘found’ the ‘findings’ because they emerge from the ‘between’ of my thinking.

Secondly, the problem of a ‘problem’ has long been a problem for me. For our confirmation of candidature we were meant to articulate a ‘problem’ which our research would address. I didn’t have one. I still basically don’t have one, rather I have a multiplicity of problematics that have emerged from my research. There is no ‘problem’ which can guide my research. It seems to me that a true problematic is not something one starts with, assembled from previous work in the field or whatever, but it is where someone arrives when they know they have finished research and no other differential repetitions are possible. To isolate the exact coordinates of a problem only comes once the infinite regress comes to an end. The end of the infinite is of course a paradox and quite simply a problem with Deleuze’s philosophy.

Why should certain dimensions of problematics be isolated from the infinite regress of thought over others? Isn’t the true creative act of thought not creating concepts, but limiting creation in such a way to render concepts intelligible? Everyone seems to talk about the problematic basis of Ideas, rather than the process of how Ideas emerge from the problematic chaosmos. This seems to be an obvious problem for me at least — especially after the true post-human or cosmological ramifications of Deleuzian philosophy is taken into account. Every ‘problem’ is the actualisation of multiplicity through the realisation of possibilities that already exist.

Maybe Deleuze already realises this when in The Fold he talks about the ‘screen’ that is always over ‘chaos’. I don’t know. However, it makes writing hard.

Hoon Media Coverage

A bit of a wrap-up of my brief quotes and media appearances over the last week.

First up was Sydney’s Daily Telegraph last Saturday (03/08/07), and some of the content was rewritten for the following day’s issue of Perth’s Sunday Times.The Telegraph article was quite good. It explored some of the complexities of the issue, instead of lapsing into unproductive ‘common sensicalisms’ (to coin a neologism) and that is about one can ask from issue-based journalism. I appeared thus:

“It is a form of desire, of friendship, separate to homo-erotic desire but similar,” says Glen Fuller, of the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney. Fuller, who has spent years in the field researching hoon culture, is about to complete a doctorate on modified car culture and enthusiasm and has come to some interesting conclusions during his study.
“I talk about it in terms of a homosocial – not homo-erotic – masculine desire among men, mediated by the cars,” he says. “There may be some kind of erotic undertone, which can get quite weird, because it may not be between people – it can be with the car itself.”

A few people, including Clif, the director of my research centre, David Rowe, and my primary supervisor, Zoe Sofoulis, all commented that it was quite remarkable to get the concept of homosocial desire into the tabloid-leaning Telegraph.

Next was an appearance on ABC regional radio for South Australia and western New South Wales. Below is the media monitor summary/transcript. I was on-air for just under 20 minutes with compere Annette Marner:

Marner says a second car has been permanently forfeited under the SA Govt’s hoon laws, and again it has taken place in Mt Gambier. She asks what is happening in Mt Gambier, does the town have a culture of hoon driving. Marner says earlier today ABC colleague Alan Richardson gave his perceptions of what happens in Mt Gambier: ‘the best time to see the hoon culture in the town is on Thursday nights when P plate drivers parade their Holdens and Fords up and down Commercial St’. Fuller says he has traced hoons back through car enthusiast literature and the first occurrence he found was in panel vanning magazine in the 1970s. He says the behaviour described in Mt Gambier is a classic example of an issue of the use of public space. He says related to this is different forms of driving practice. [cont]
Interviewee: Glen Fuller, University of Western Sydney
Duration: 5 mins 35 secs
[there was a promo break here]
Continuing discussion about hoon driving – Dave says the hoon driving behaviour is so common in Mt Gambier that the locals don’t even see it anymore. He says the public is starting to pick up on it more because of police encouraging the dobbing in of hoons. He says the young fellows want people to look at them and this is what the burn outs are about. Fuller says people do modify their cars to be noticed by other car enthusiasts and to stand out from the crowd. He says male relationships are often conducted through a third object. Fuller explains for hoons it is about what the car can do and the status that it gives. He says hoons see the public roads as a resource they can use for their own purposes and not something to share. He says loud stereos are about taking over this shared resource, like marking their territory. Wayne says when he drives in Adelaide people don’t let him change lanes. Fuller says this is a version of hoon driving. He says the definition of a hoon begins as soon as a driver stops thinking about the road as a shared resource.
Interviewee: Glen Fuller, University of Western Sydney
Interviewee: caller Dave, Mt Gambier
Interviewee: caller Wayne, Mt Gambier
Duration: 13 mins 05 secs

So as you can gather it was live with caller feedback. Caller ‘Wayne’ was spot-on with my definition of a hoon in terms of using the system of automobility as an individual resource rather than understanding it as a shared resource. The ritualised practices of young men (cruising, racing, etc.) are built on and from this initial break with the shared dimension of automobility.

Lastly, I featured in a page 3 article of the Sydney Morning Herald. The article by Jordan Baker was very good. She bought me lunch and we chatted about my research. For those who haven’t read draft chapters of my dissertation, the newspaper article briefly summarises some of my best work in tracing the development and changes to the scene of contemporary modified-car culture.

The SMH article is available online.

Media events, take 2?

Just received the below CFP via email. Maybe I can dust off my media events work for this conference and finally present it. (I guess it would be called “Capacities of the Screen: Deleuzian Media Events.”)

Screenscapes: Past Present Future
University of Sydney
November 29-December 1 2007

The proliferation of screens is a signature feature of modern and contemporary life. Screens located on computer, cinema, television or mobile platforms offer possibilities for entertainment, communication, art, manipulation and surveillance, creating new forms of identity, community, expression and social control. These developments in turn have created a rich and rapidly changing set of research initiatives within and across academic fields. Screenscapes: Past Present Future offers a space for the examination of these and other issues, including the creation of screen communities and identities, the remediation of screen technology into other cultural forms, the history and future of screen technology, aesthetics, audiences, developments in mobile screens, and the use of screens in visual and data surveillance.

Keynotes speakers are Professor Sean Cubitt (University of Melbourne) and Professor David Trotter (Cambridge University). Other confirmed speakers include Professor Peter Kuch (University of Otago) Professor Gerard Goggin (University of New South Wales) and Professor Julian Murphet (University of New South Wales).

We call for abstracts for papers and panels addressing themes related broadly to the past, present and future of screens. The deadline for submission of 250-word abstracts is September 15 2007 (although we welcome earlier proposals). Abstracts submitted before that time will be assessed immediately. The conference papers should be 15-20 minutes long.

All enquiries to Dr Peter Marks
Department of English
University of Sydney
Email: peter (dot) marks (at) arts (dot) usyd (dot) edu (dot) au

Syrup

Max Barry‘s Syrup is one of the best books I have ever read. It is smart and a page turner. I just read it in 4 hours. Wow.

EDIT: The extras section of his website contains ‘deleted scenes’ from the book. One scene contains this line:

Until this moment, I never realized just how hard it is to argue with idiots.

I have that experience all the time, including earlier today.

Hoon Resource

For journalists after my work on hoons (because of this event), please send me an email to gfuller (at) uws (dot) edu (dot) au and I will send you a PDF of my book chapter on hoons and moral panics.

Or you can buy the book. Link to page on publisher’s website and media kit.

My basic point is that the ‘hoon’ problem needs to be properly defined, and not simply in terms of scale (‘this is how big the problem is’), but qualitatively. The road safety issues (ie different types of street racing, capacity to participate in normal traffic, etc), public space issues (ie enthusiasts cruising beach, cafe or night time ‘strips’), and moral issues are all dimensions of the problem. They need to be separated for the purposes of governance.