Fun Fun Fun

I have an exercise bike. It is a pretty good one. My brother bought it for me as a 30th birthday present. I am starting to get my discipline back for an exercise regime. Every morning I get up a little earlier than I need to and do a 20 minute ride. From my research in the past I know that losing weight and getting fit is not simply a matter of burning calories but harnessing the metabolic burn of the body. By doing exercise in the mornings I use it as a kickstart. After a while I will start going to the gym with some of my coworkers during our lunch break, too. At the moment I am trying to get my body used to doing work and being out of breath and sweating.

My folks are in town from Friday. It will be good to see them. On Saturday we are heading out to the country town where my dad grew up, Kurri Kurri. They have a nostalgia festival on there and I have previously spoken with the organisers for a story. I’ll be taking my camera and taking some photos.

There is also a car I am probably going to buy, that is up on the central coast. Kurri is near Newcastle and the central coast is so named because it is between Newcastle and Sydney. The car is a 1992 Ford Fairmont EB series 2. Here is a pic from the for sale thread on one of the forums I frequent.img_1736.jpg

One of the best things about my new job (well, it isn’t so new anymore, coming up four months now), is that I get to engage with cars again. The simple pleasure derived from the satisfaction of working on cars and fixing or modifying them is a pleasure that I have mostly not allowed myself since I have been in Sydney. Now it is expected of me. The ‘Monty’ (as the general model of car is affectionately known amongst some enthusiasts) has some good panels and other bits and pieces, including the engine and thermo fans (the thermo fans are electric and replace the mechanical clutch fan), which will more than likely be swapped over to my current daily transport. Then my car will need some basic panel and paint and it’ll be sweet 😉

EDIT: I didn’t buy the car:(

on the event mechanics of agency

I have been idly contemplating the role, function and incorporation of creativity into capitalism. The contemplation has been instigated because I now work in a commercial enterprise. For the first time in my life I am being forced to think like a capitalist. There is something liberating and joyful about this. For so long I have basically been at war with a part of myself — my habitus — that was individuated/grown in the capitalist ecology of late-20th century neoliberalism. Many people opt out of this war much earlier in life and dismiss it as teenage fantasy, and some continue the war fueled by teenage fantasy, but I am doing neither. I am learning. This learning is progessing along two main axes. One of which I describe below in an anexact yet rigorous fashion 😉

From my PhD research I already have an account of how human endeavour — no matter how seemingly trivial and banal — is commercialised. I have been haunted by Manuel DeLanda’s comments regarding the uselessness of the term ‘commodification’ in that it is far too simplisitic a term. Indeed, I agree it is far too simple. I have been thinking about the concept of the spectacle and how to invert it to stand it right side up on its material base. The spectacle has been described a number of ways since Debord. I think the closest to my way of thinking come from Jonathan Crary’s remarks on ‘relations of attention’:

Spectacle is not primarily concerned with looking at images, but rather with the construction of conditions that individuate, immobilize, and separate subjects, even within a world in which mobility and circulation are ubiquitous. In this way attention becomes key to the operation of noncoercive forms of power. This is why it is not inappropriate to conflate seemingly different optical or technological objects [in a discussion of Foucault’s and Debord’s respective works]: they are similarly about arrangements of bodies in space, techniques of isolation, cellularization, and above all separation. Spectacle is not an optics of power but an architecture. (Crary 1999: 74-75)

In my dissertation I describe this as an imperceptible ‘structurating expectation’ that is felt in the bodies of enthusiasts. Alongside what Deleuze isolates as two of Foucault’s conceptual innovations — ‘statements’ and ‘visibilities’ — is this third [something]. I am not sure what to call it. It has a far more dynamic relationality than both the ‘statement’ and ‘visible’. Sanford Kwinter isolates something similar in his book Achitectures of Time. I will try to outline precisely what I am trying to talk about.
The first part seems similar to what Deleuze and Guattari call the ‘refrain’ in that it has a catalysing function. A ‘new’ iteration of organisation precipitates across the heterogeneous elements grouped by a given consistency. There is a seemingly silly dimension to this: the elements are grouped because they are grouped. But that ignores the dynamic dimension of how different basins of consistency (I prefer this to basins of attraction, as ‘attraction’ implies a relation between similar elements, when they are purely heterogeneous) are formed and unformed.

Note I have used the Derridean term ‘iteration’ to describe the relation between different consistencies of organisation. This is a problemtic term. The event, in Derrida’s philosophy, is that irreducible element that cannot be actualised and is continually deferred. What in Deleuzian philosophy would be called the ‘pure event’. Without a doubt there is a pure event, that of pure existence, of everything, the cosmos, for all eternity. This is perfectly useless for mundane human affairs. Introduce any degree of spatialisation and temporalisation — so that the pure happening of the cosmos becomes the happening of any discrete composition of elements — and there is a near infinite complexity of temporality, spatiality and causality. The best concept I have come across that attempts to tackle this complexity is that of ‘transversality’.
‘Transversality’ is a term that describes the non-spatial and non-temporal contiguity of elements in a complex system. The character of transversal relationality is what Deleuze and Guattari rather enigmatically, and with a hint of irony (at least for this reader), describe as ‘problematic’. The seriality of the differential repetition of events into iterative organisational consistencies is not linear; it has a ‘problematic’ character. The seriality is transversal. The second dimension of this [something] I am trying to describe is its transversality. The transversal (iterative) seriality is contained within the [something].

A problem that took me a long time to be able to even grasp was with seemed to be the conflict inherent between different interests within a given consistency of elements. In my dissertation this consistency of elements most often appeared as the ‘scene’ of an enthusiasm. How to reconcile the commercial intersts of capital and the subjective interests of enthusiasts born of a complex psychology of identity and so on. Perhaps the simplest way to imagine this is in terms of the conflict of ideology. There is a clash of beliefs at the level of what is perceptible and expressible as signifying elements in terms of what is visible and statements (what can be said at any given juncture). Yet, in a war for example, the conflict has a dimension of participation in that, as the cliche goes, it takes two to tango.

Whitehead’s concept of ‘congruence’ is a way to grasp the asignifying relationality between elements that are otherwise antagonistic. Perhaps this is an echo of human will or any will for that matter, one that does not yet take on the consistency of agency, yet overdetermines the trajectory of elements that have a consistency and the character of this consistency. At stake is the integration of the perceptible — the object world of a subject — and the vast imperceptible transversal relationality of the happening of iteration and the pure event of the cosmos. The transversal contiguity of iterative consistencies has a congruent relationality that is felt, ie as affect, but is otherwise imperceptible to participants. To frame it in the terms of another conceptual paradigm, it is the content of what Kant described as intuition. Congruence then is the third and, at this stage of conceptual development, final dimension of this [something] I am trying to describe.

There is a fourth dimension that with purposeful irony is related to time. I haven’t quite figured out how to formulate this as yet. The specific problem is super complex and relates to different orders of causality (feedback and feedforward loops, for example) within the transversal seriality of different iterations of consistency. At the moment I am leaning towards another concept from Whitehead to describe the processual dimension of this complex causality, what he called ‘appetition’. For Whitehead, this was the integration of prehensions prehending each other into an ‘actual occurence’, basically what Deleuze would call ‘actualisation’. The troubling part of this is the function of human imagination in the form of memory and probabilistic calculation, of how the ‘past’ or felt relationality of crystalised impercibility commonally referred to as ‘memory’, affects the relations of futurity by opening or closing perceptible relations and thus effecting the present directionality of action. It is a feedback loop with a feedforward loop ratified on the level of affect and directly consecrating action into the appropriate and inappropriate. This is what I would call the appetition of the spectacle and pushes Crary’s description of the spectacle as an ‘architecture’ into a fourth dimension.

To return to my opening remarks, what I am learning is how to map the effect of capital within this dynamic through the distribution of effort into the appropriateness or not of action. How to render this process of the distribution of appropriate action perceptible and guide it seems to me to be the location of agency and the purpose of what Deleuze described as counter-actualisation. One positive effect of all this thinking is that the distribution of effort within this transversal iterations of consistency as I understand clearly renders the utter conceptual poverty of the phrase ‘self interest’. ‘Self interest’ is a refrain that consecrates the distribution of effort into actions for the ‘self’ as appropriate and thus ratifying the affects of capitalist apprehension and, in a word, judgement.

Enthuse Special Issue

I am unsure of the protocol regarding discussing this stuff on here, but long time readers will know I am not risk adverse when it comes to posting to my blog. When it comes to various activities I am inclined to lean on the side of transparency, until I am advised otherwise, of course…

Anyway, I am going through the submissions for the Enthuse special issue of M/C Journal. I am very impressed!

Expect an email from me if you know me and I think would be suitable and willing to referee a paper. 🙂

Fight Club and the Pragmatics of Ikea

As my Facebook updates have indicated, I have been romanticaly involved with a flat-packed furniture chain store by the name of Ikea. (Ikea is such a pretty name, children?) I just wanted a ‘guy’ relationship, an easy erection, a couple of quick screws, and somewhere to lay down every now and then. But Ikea wanted me to commit. It wasn’t content with getting a piece here and there; it wanted to take over my life and plan my future with modular aspirationalism. It was a messy break up, glue and hammers were involved, but I am still here and even, if you can imagine it, wanting to head back out there. I want Ikea back…

Here is some Swedish Ikea theme music (I am pretty sure Foucault is in this clip):

Thinking about Ikea inevitably leads to thinking about Fight Club, or at least the film version, as I have not read the book. There is that scene. You know, this one:

Although edited in a dynamic way, with a fun use of overlayed catalogue graphics to represent how one’s living space is the resultant of catalogue induced desires, the composition of relations produced is fundamentally static. Desire is captured by the idea of an object represent in a catalogue and the purchase commodity does not simply furnish one’s domain but one’s identity. This serves as an example of the way the masculine subject is feminised by consumption so the brutal ultra-violence off the actual fight club can be dialectically juxtaposed as a heroic counter-position. Yeah? Standard Intro to CultStuds stuff.

If, however, the dynamic of the Ikea catalogue practice is not flat-packed into nice preconceived cultural categories assembled via the schematics of CULTURAL THEORY then the difference is not one determined by how much or litle one subsumes the commodified lifestyle of catalogued desires. Rather it becomes a battle of pragmatics. Beyond the will-to-fully-furnished of total subsumption is the over determination of the fight club’s raw pragmatism, which in reality (not in Fight Club world) is actually how Ikea is used.

Those coming into adulthood as the first generation of numillenials mobility is a way of life. One’s domain is not simply furnished, there is a constant churning of persona that may or may not be furnished with the assistance of catalogued desires. If anything, a privileged necessity dictates how and when an Ikea pragmatism will be useful.

That, and I love the dollar dogs (not sure what they are in other countires, I remember working out the price was roughly the same when I went to Sweden).