lost left socks

I am not very sophisticated in some ways. Games of distinction are tedious circle jerks, organised around the events and activities that most people find interesting and which have had so much commercial investment injected into them that they feel as exciting as getting an enema from a mechanical car wash.

While those that intuit the intensive dimension to the production of culture, and therefore have the capacity to appreciate how interests are managed, are either swept up by the cultural industries (including the academic cultural industry) as creative or intellectual workers, or they maintain bouyancy in a sea of mediocrity by expounding a soft-left libertarianism devoid of critical content and becoming talking heads for the abject stupidities of consumers.

Both of these stupid and smart positions require a disavowal of the regular injustices and cultural palsy of a society hell bent on maintaining the conditions of the good life, the easy life, the life where girls (and boys) just wanna have fun.

The rest are like the missing left socks that once upon a time were found under the bed (with the communists and other boogie people (M Jackson)). They are always left, because the right socks are on the feet in the boots that are used to kick you in the head to break your quaint adolescent dreams.

In other ways I am hyper-sophisticated, almost to the point of paralysis. Flailing from the constant stupor of cynical anticipation, not of what people will actually do, which of course is thankfully contingent, but the sets of expectations used within situations to guide behaviour and so on.

Social situations are therefore very tough. I mostly ignore people who define themselves according to marketable-based interests, because, you know, I’m cooler than capitalism (“YOU COULD SELL THAT T-SHIRT!” “…”). Not only capitalism but the markets of cultural capital that range from the comical innocence of hyper-commodified masculinity expressed through ‘surf’ branded clothing to the high-minded bourgie fucks wallowing in their self-righteous malaise of nothing to do after the novelty of perfect hair and the right books has worn off. I would say ‘Get a life’ but they have an investment in a lifesyle franchise and a severe deficit of curiousity that precludes having an opening on the world not modulated according to the affects of their mortgaged expectations.

Assuming a subject position organised around ‘resistance’ to these expectations in a big FUCK YOU is simply fulfilling the destiny of yet another expectation. It may make the little left socks feel better, because such resistance is congruent with their libidinal investments, but this makes them no different to those wildly excited about the brand and pleasant aroma of the soap used in the car wash. Resistance is futile; only because it is part of the apparatus of control. You need to be more sophisticated than that. Expectations are empty sqares in a game of constantly shifting hopscotch. They are there to be skipped over.

Where now for the lost left socks? In some forgotten bag in the cupboard under the stairs plotting with secret desires? Cleaned so they are wearable again, then hung out to dry?

Charisma

Bit tired, but now working on the sixth chapter where I outline how enthusiasm becomes a resource. Tom Wolfe:

[The ‘Detroit’] manufacturers may be well on the way to routinizing the charisma, as Max Weber used to say, which is to say, bringing the whole field into a nice, safe, vinyl-glamorous marketable ball of polyethylene.

Wolfe was wrong. ‘Detroit’ did build ‘plastic’ cars eventually, but first they built the ‘muscle car’. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt suggest that a “Neo-Weberian perspective” is useful for engaging with a “rationality defined by the ‘event’ and ‘charisma’”. This functionalist approach takes as its object the “biopolitical economic and institutional system” of ‘Empire’. The biopolitical relation between enthusiasm and biopower is key to understanding the function of enthusiast media in mobilising enthusiasts, not in a negative sense, but through enabling the production of cultural events so as to modulate the event of enthusiasm. By modulating the event of enthusiasm to accentuate certain affects over others the cultural industry transforms the enthusiasm of a given population of enthusiasts into a resource.

The closest I have found to the postion developed in this chapter is actually Ken Wark’s work on celebrity. Forget celebrity being an actual person, what Wark talks about is the celebrity as image that circulates across a number of registers as a vector. The relations between this image-vector and the registers of circulation are determined by the ’emotional’ congruence of discrete audience segments with their reading of the ‘image’. Audiences become suspended within the affective relations organised around the ‘image’ catalyzer.

Now, imagine a social structure determined by the circulation of such an image, yet the audience also producers the object-image. Secondly, imagine that the various members of this population are competing to build or create a different image-objects. The media apparatus therefore has to pursue the continually differentiating object-images produced by the population and circulate an image-vector that correlates with the shifting affective topography of the audience. The media apparatus does this by modulating the affective relations formed between the audience-producer population and the image-objects, not only through the media by selecting various image-objects to transform into image-vectors, but through the production of cultural events where the population and image-objects are located in direct relation to each other. The population and image-object-vectors are organised by durable affective relations; yet, the pursuit of different image-objects firstly by the producers, the by the media, then the circualtion of these image-objects as vectors, produces a pattern of an iterative spiral. By modulating the differential repetition of affective relations within cultural events, the cultural industry guides the affective composition of relations.

Within modified-car culture the ‘image-object’ is called a ‘head turner’. The population of audience-producers are the enthusiasts. The media and cultural industry are primarily the magazines and event promoters. The cultural events are primarily car shows and festivals.

EDIT: Damn, how tired was I when I wrote this. lol

progress

Good week on the diss. I thought my loyal readers would like to know!

Now working on the finishing touches on the fifth chapter (out of nine). I think I have finally come to terms with not trying to explain everything at once. Footnotes are great from dropping text out of the body, but retaining it to judge its utility.

Yet, I am continualy overwhelmed with a feeling of how feaking massive this thing is. After it is all submitted and whatever I want to do a post on the architecture of the argument. It is a serious head fuck, not only the complexity, but the discrete character of individual chapters and how they have been configured to be part of various larger 3 or 4 chapter length arguments. It is like doing a custom interior in a car that looks ‘factory’ but is entirely singular. lol

Accelerate!

Foucault 2.0: A Neo-Liberalised Foucault Beta?

Eric Paras’ book Foucault 2.0 has an atrocious title. The Web 2.0 phenomenon is an expression of the worst excesses of the cultural industry capitalising on a techno-enthusiasm. The title of Paras’ book therefore immediately puts me off. This is a pity because I don’t think I am alone in my desire to not be intepellated into the current fashions of the cultural industry, be they academic or otherwise, and Paras’ book deserves some critical attention. Let this post stand as a review of sorts, it is not a proper review, I only want to highlight the useful and not very useful sections of his book as I understand them.

Others have described this book as partially a biography and partially a work of philosophical critical commentary. This is the strength of the book. To understand philosophers doesn’t mean comprehending concepts according to their identity, but understanding the contingent material practice of philosophy that served as the conditions of emergence for the concept. So not a body of concepts, but a seriality of contingencies that allowed the concepts to be developed. Another brief post is in the works where I engage with Buchanan’s tips for reading Deleuze and Guattari (in the Deleuze and Music edited collection), and I argue that Buchanan takes a pedagogical line organised around the resemblance of the concept to identity, and not the genealogy of the concept and the contingency of its emergence.

The extended discussion of the period of a few years from the late-1960s until the early-1970s in Foucault’s oeurve is very productive. Paras notes the influence of Deleuze’s work and the reconfiguration of Foucault’s method. For example, I have elsewhere described it as the mobilisation of the event where Foucault shunted the event from the shackles of the discursive archive and mobilised it by asking how discourse related to the mechanisms of power as they affected bodies. If Deleuze’s reading is followed then Foucault was always talking about power, but the mobilised event of disciplinary dispositifs was described not simply through the rule-based configuartions of statements, but through the relation of statements to dispositifs: of the archive of discourse to the history of bodily practices.

Similarly, I think Paras’s analysis of Foucault’s Iran writings are productive in that he takes them seriously and unravels the core argument regarding the revolution as a moment where the ‘planetary forces’ of ‘modernisation’ were refused. (This is in stark contrast to Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson’s reading of Foucault’s Iran writings, which I briefly mention here.)

This is all well and good until Paras seems to lose the ‘plot’ a bit in what I assume is meant to be the point of the book’s argument, the “Deep Subjects” chapter. Another reader had similar problems with Chapter Four: “Paras’ interpretive strategy blinds him to the continuities at work across Foucault’s texts and reduces his later texts to something of a death bed conversion to the time-honored values of liberal humanism.” The problem, condensed: Paras writes from within neo-liberal discourse and argues from the assumption that “interests” equals “individuals”, thus transforming Foucault’s two courses (77-78 and 78-79) into a project “that viewed the individual as the secret bearer of his own deep truth” (113).

Catastrophic. Why would Foucault simply start to ignore the work of Deleuze and Guattari, where desire is social before it is individual? Why would ‘interest’ necessarily be ‘individual’? The insertion of economics into governmental discourse and practices was completely organised around organising bodies and practices so as to lead to a convenient end or outcome. The convenient end was not of some reified individual, but of ‘interests’. Interests coalesced, they formed agencements that exceed the subjective interests of individuals. The ‘calculated leaving-alone’ was calculated precisely because nothing was left alone. Utter nonsense:

Rather than tighening of the reins of social control, Foucault described a kind of slackening: a power that functioned with precision inasmuch as it let natural processes pursue their course, inasmuch as it let individuals follow their inclinations. (103)

‘Processes’ are not ‘natural’ and ‘inclinations’ do not belong to ‘individuals’.

EDIT 27/09/07: Eric Paras replies in comments.

music middle class?

Via ars technica:

Rumblefish’s Paul Anthony agreed, adding that the music industry is moving from a “real estate” plan (in which property is bought by labels and appreciates in value) to a service industry. The notion is that artists interacting directly with their audience will ultimately lead to the most profitable relationship between the two.
Is it possible that music could acquire a middle class, instead of being split between a few superstars and a vast working-poor population of bar bands and small independent acts?

Over at infinite thought:

Dressed in something that looks much like something from an Ann Summers bargain bin, Britney stumbles around a bit, a bit gone on pills and ennui, perhaps, and with a little bit of a stomach. She is clearly by no means ‘fat’, and her thighs remain like God’s own pins, but nevertheless, she’s done something absolutely unforgivable, namely, look kind of normal…and a certain kind of normal, at that, exhibiting a wistful combination of crushed dreams and a confused and weary desire to be deemed attractive.